Triphala Experiment

I’ve mentioned Triphala quite a bit in various posts & comments over the past few months, but I’m going to repeat it all here so this post can be a One-Stop-Triphala-Shop, so to say.

I first heard of Triphala while searching for natural treatments for Spina Bifida.  I found it listed as an ingredient in a product recommended for managing constipation caused by neurogenic bowel on an MS blog.  You can see the post here.

Then I ran into it again on Dr. Andrew Weil’s site.  He has a short little Q&A on natural laxatives here.  He said that while Senna causes dependence over time, with Triphala the benefits actually accumulate the longer you stay on it. He also recommends it for neurogenic bowel on his MS page.

Then when I called my local health food store to inquire about it, the gal in the supplement section immediately launched into a speech about how it heals & tones the bowel. I found that interesting. How does it “tone” the bowel exactly?  Well after a bit of research I found out that tone doesn’t always mean muscle tone, but can mean health & strength in general.  So herbal “tonics” can “tone” by supporting or restoring the strength & health of an organ or system.

I also wanted to know more about Dr. Weil’s contrast of Senna & Triphala.  So I researched that as well.  I’m no doctor, but what I learned is that Senna stimulates the bowel, causing it to become lazy & dependent.  Because it no longer *has* to work, it either forgets *how* to work or that it *needs* to work at all.  Triphala, on the other hand – when they say it tones the bowel, they mean that it heals & nourishes the tissues of the colon, giving it the nutrients & strength it needs to function to the best of its ability.  How much does this matter for neurogenic bowel, I don’t know.  I am certainly not anti-senna by any means.  I would rather see people using senna over Miralax any day of the week.

So on to the experiment.  I love the combination of ingredients in the Triphala product I bought at the health food store, but it tastes terrible.  And it is almost impossible to mask the taste.  The first day (Friday) I put it in apple sauce and then added stevia, xylitol & monk fruit to the apple sauce to try to at least make the strong flavor “sweet”.  And it helped.  She ate 10 bites before turning her nose up, declaring that she had enough of “that stuff”.  Then on Saturday I tried it in strawberry lemonade.  I didn’t think it was bad at all, but I had to dilute half a capsule in EIGHT ounces to get it to taste decent.  And then she only had a few sips before rejecting it.  My hunch is that she hated the lemonade, not the supplement.  She has only ever had milk & water, so I can only imagine what a shock strawberry lemonade would be to the taste buds.  No way to know, for sure, though.

But the most important part of story *IS* – – almost 24 hours later she had a strange slimy diarrhea diaper! I hadn’t decreased her molasses yet because I hadn’t run out of my current batch of premixed goat milk. Could the diarrhea be from something else?  Possible, but unlikely.  She doesn’t even get diarrhea when she cuts teeth.  And it wasn’t just diarrhea, it was strange & slimy, just like what I would expect from mucilagenous herbs, like marshmallow & slippery elm.  And she only had a fraction of the smallest adult dose.

Today I decided to try the oral syringe method with maple syrup.  And she took it fine. I gave her about 1/5 the smallest adult dose. I will keep you posted. She was on the constipated side of normal today (crumbly cookie dough), so it will be very interesting to see how she is tomorrow.

The reason I am continuing with this combination of ingredients despite having my heart set on a neutral taste is because 1) I found a flavored powdered version online that will be here in a week or so, and 2) I just believe in these ingredients.  And let me tell you why:

1) Triphala is a classic ayurvedic remedy that has been used in India for years to support digestive health.  Literally, it means “three fruits” –

    • Haritaki tones the muscular wall of the gut.
    • Amalaki heals the inner wall of the gut and villi.
    • Bibhitaki pulls mucus and toxins off the wall of the gut.

2) Rhubarb root has been used for over 2000 years as a remedy for digestional distress.  Strangely enough, it can be used to treat both diarrhea & constipation.  Apparently it promotes balance.

3) Cape Aloe leaf is unique because it has the properties of fiber, and stimulates the bowel, but also soothes and lubricates like aloe vera. Instead of irritating the bowel, it soothes inflammation. It acts as a cleansing & detoxifying agent for the digestive tract.

4) Marshmallow root lubricates, soothes and softens inflamed gastric mucous membranes.

5) Slippery Elm bark is a mucilaginous herb used to coat and soothe mucous membranes while also absorbing toxins which cause intestinal imbalances. In additional, it helps stimulate the nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract.

The product I am currently using has magnesium hydroxide, but I don’t think the flavored powdered product does, so I will keep you posted on that one.  I go back and forth on my thoughts about magnesium.  Because some people worry about it, I would love to find a product that works without it.  And because her stools were so slimy, I have hope that it might.

What I love about the herbal combination listed above is they all support gut health and even promote healing.  I know it seems like I am always talking about gut health.  Some of you may not know that my older teenage daughter has an autoimmune condition caused by leaky gut.  So I know firsthand what the gut can do to your health.  In fact, I read another book on the gut this weekend.  I couldn’t put it down.  It was absolutely fascinating and I finally learned why doctors are saying that up to 80% of your immune system is in your gut. It made so much sense. But that is a different subject for a different time.

I will keep you posted.

29 comments

  • I’m definitely watching this one. I’m happy with our mini-enema solution for Z right now, but this could be useful for everyone, at least sometimes.

    I can’t wait to see how it goes over a little more time!

  • I can’t wait to hear I feel the same way about mag I would love to start eve on this keep us posted

  • UPDATE: 24 hours after the first dose in maple syrup, she had two whipped cream cheese texture diapers. That changed to lumpy watery diarrhea today. Not sure what that means yet. Could go either way.

    She’s off molasses altogether now.

    I’m non-conclusive at this point. More soon.

  • Still going back and forth between lumpy diarrhea & whipped cream cheese. Just when I start to panic that the lumpy diarrhea is a sign of impaction, she has a large quantity with perfect consistency.

    She was somewhat low on fiber the past few days, so I have been feeding her sweet potato with every meal since yesterday and things are much improved today.

    So nothing conclusive still, but I think logging our progress could prove helpful in the future, especially considering I can barely remember my own name some days. 😉

  • We just finished a 3-day ABM Intensive and I wanted to update you on our triphala experiment.

    So we have officially stabilized on the Triphala product. Pooka’s stools had been inconsistent over a 24 hour period, so I started splitting her dose in two and giving her half in the morning & the other half before bed. This has made things a lot more consistent. I do still have to monitor her fluid and fiber intake. Her stools are perfect when she has adequate fiber.

    But even more interesting, my ABM therapist has a teenage son with CP, who has always struggled with severe constipation. I told her about the triphala and happened to have the bottle in my diaper bag, so I gave her a few capsules. She gave him 1 capsule the first night and he had TWO bowel movements the next day. She did the same thing the second night and he had a cleanout experience this morning. I left there around 1pm and she was excited and planned to give him the same dose again tonight. She said he NEVER has more than 1 bowel movement a day, usually only 1 every couple of days. The nice thing is that he can tell her if he has any discomfort. He never had discomfort of any kind, just the urge to go A LOT! 🙂

    So for reference purposes, each pill contains about 3/4 tsp. And I give Pooka 1/8 tsp per day (1/16 tsp morn & eve).

    This works out to:

    19mg of Magnesium Hydroxide per day (9.5mg morn & eve)
    100mg of the 6 herbs combined (50mg morn & eve).

    Where my friend’s son is getting 115mg Magnesium & 600mg of herbs before bed.

    I’m pretty excited! I give it to her in an oral syringe mixed into 1 tsp maple syrup, which seems to mask the flavor well enough for Pooka. She actually likes it. My friend’s son just swallows the capsule, which makes things really easy.

    For reference purposes, 1 tsp maple syrup has about 1/3 the calories & grams of sugar as compared to 1 Tbsp molasses or 4 oz apple juice. I tsp maple syrup has 18 calories and 4.6g of sugar. (The other two have approx. 60 calories & 15g sugar.)

    We are both super excited to be giving our children something that actually promotes the strengthening & healing of the bowel!!!

  • So, before Triphala she was having 3-4 bowel movements a day–is that right? How is it different now? Is it coming out all day long or still the 3-4 movements?

  • She is probably having more like 2-3 bowel movements now and they are much more varied in consistency because the supplements aren’t in her every bottle, like they used to be. Now she gets them twice a day and she started eating like a mad woman right around the time we introduced the Triphala. So the goat milk bowel movements are more pasty than the food ones, but they are all still within normal limits, never any pebbles. And they do come less frequently, mostly twice a day, sometimes 3 times. But I watch what she eats and watch what comes out and so I know that her transit time is about 24 hours, which I think is ideal, isn’t it? I think anything less than 24 hours is considered too fast for proper absorption.

  • By the way, I heard from my ABM friend this morning and she said that her son is “pooping like a champ!! I love that stuff!”

  • I’m just pondering if Triphala could ever be a substitute for Senna. B/c I see one of the great benefits of Senna being that its supposed to come out all at once (though it doesn’t always happen that way). Generally, you can figure out when the senna is going to “hit” and schedule the enema then. I am interested in trying Triphala but I’m afraid that it wouldn’t be as predictable as senna??

    • Well I think this product *is* intended to work that way to some extent. It is supposed to be taken before bed with a bowel movement in the morning. And that is how it is working with my friend’s son. I will send her an email right now to find out details on how it has been working since his initial “cleanout”. I’ll report back soon.

  • OK, she says he takes it before bed and goes once in the morning, but she added that he has been sick and not eating a lot, so that may be contributing to the once a day.

    Senna is a tough one to “wean” from. With the once a day thing, you can’t exactly wean off senna and on to something else, without risking the possibility of constipation. Perhaps you could just add a small bedtime dose to the current senna regime and see if consistency and/or frequency changes. Then go from there.

    What are your thoughts on it?

  • Triphala Update:

    So by accident we didn’t give Pooka her Triphala supplement for a few days in a row and she didn’t get constipated. So I thought I would see what happened if we went longer.

    Well it’s been over 2 weeks now and she is doing great without any bowel supplementation whatsoever. In the past, if she had just a single bottle without supplementation she would get backed up and start straining. She has been eating and drinking lots of normally constipating foods, so this is actually very surprising.

    All I can conclude is that these herbs really do improve the strength of the bowel. I don’t know what else to think?!?

    At first I told a few of you that I was going to stop the supplement indefinitely to see how things went. But after thinking about it, I thought, if she experienced this much improvement from just a few months of use, why stop? Maybe I should continue giving it to her to see what it can really do for her bowels.

    What do you guys think? Keep her off of it? Put her back on it? I’d love your input.

    Thanks,
    Tina

  • I think I would put her back on a very low dosage. Keep us updated–very interesting, for sure!

  • This sounds just what we have been lookin for. Will you please post a picture of the product so I can get exactly what you bought. Also eve is 17 months old 21 pounds how much should I give her ? She is currently on probiotic 1/4 tsp vit c 1 tsp and magnesium 1/4 tsp she usually has one good soft bm then we are back to more formed this goes back and forth I was going to increase the mag but I think I would rather add the triphula I make sure she drinks a lot but it’s hard to only give her fruit rasisins etc when her sisters are eating gold fish. She gets no cheese or milk if she does she won’t go for days. Also I agree I would keep your daughter on a lower daily dose. Thank so much can’t wait to try. Also he has latex allergy sometimes I get scared about trying natural stuff if it comes out of tree like latex ?

  • Also I went to the links you posted and it says colon max ? Which contains other ingredient. Besides triphila is that right or find something with just triphila ? Thanks so much

  • Just FYI I read something about cape aloe and the leaf shouldn’t be given with latex allergy. If I find triphala by itself it’s usually a capsule and gives adult directions how do I know how much to give her ? Thanks so much

  • Hmmmm, this is a tough one. I don’t think you will have much success with the Triphala by itself. I think it is a magical combination of herbs. Some strengthen while others keep things moving. Camilla just tried this product with some success (but her daughter is on a senna/enema program which makes things even more tricky), then switched to Triphala alone and her daughter got backed up. Hopefully she can give you the details.

    The latex allergy makes this tricky. Honestly, I don’t know what to recommend, except to buy the herbs separately in bulk and mix them together (minus the cape aloe).

    So that would be triphala, rhubarb root, slippery elm bark & marshmallow root.

    I use the Cleanse More product by Renew Life, which is identical to the Colon Max product. They are owned by the same parent company.

    Pooka is 21 months. I don’t know her weight. And I gave her 1/8 tsp per day.

    If it were me, I would mix equal parts of those 4 herbs and start with a tiny dose, maybe 1/16 tsp. Then move up every few days (based on transit time). But that’s just me and I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to natural remedies.

    Let me know if I can be of more help. I’m glad to help you work through this.

    Tina

    P.S. Pooka is still not on any bowel supplements. I would say that she now has typical bowel function. She has 1-2 bowel movements per day, just like any of my other children. The improvement is absolutely miraculous. I don’t know if it was this product or just maturity or what. But it is drastically improved.

  • Hi Ladies,

    I’m posting this here and on the Urology Update post. I wrote Dr. Yarnell today to tell him about Pooka’s dramatic bowel improvement after taking the Triphala herbal blend for 2 months. My basic question was this:

    Can herbs that are said to “tone the bowel” somehow strengthen the bowel itself apart from improving the innervation? And if so, could there be a product that would do the same thing for the bladder – “tone the bladder.”

    Or if not, how would he explain the improvement?

    I will let you know what he says.

    Tina

  • Tina. Just wondering how polka was doing as far as bowel movements and triphala? Also did you find anything about herbal supplements that heal bladder ? Thanks
    Jennifer

  • Hi Jennifer,

    As far as I can tell, Pooka’s bowels are as typical as can be for one in diapers. Other issues may become apparent when we attempt to potty train. She can eat whatever she wants and never shows any signs of constipation and goes very regularly 1-2 times per day.

    As far as bladder supplements, Dr. Yarnell didn’t really address that question specifically. Right now, her bladder is stable, but once we aim for continence (or if testing shows bladder changes) I will probably pursue it further.

    How is Eve?

  • That is wonderful she doesn’t have to takes anything and goes daily that’s a blessing. Eve still gets vit c. Mag probiotic. I just started the triphala 1/8 of a tsp. for about three days now and her poops seems little softer and more consistent I am going to add one of the other herbs this week. I’ll let you know how it goes when I add another thanks

    • This is SO great. I’m so glad someone else is giving it a try. Please do keep us posted each step of the way. I really hope it helps sweet Eve! Just out of curiosity, which herb are you adding next?

  • Ok so one day it seems like she has good amount soft but formed stool then next day more like round balls but not hard. I added slippery elm bark to triphala. She has only had it for two days now and No difference. We were already havin good day and then bad day only on Mag and vit c so no worse just not much better. I wanted to add the aloe Vera but it is Related to latex so we can’t. I bought some flax seed oil it has soluble fiber in it. It’s moving I just need it softer I’ll let you know what happens next. Oh I also bought senna tea from whole foods. I have to use it on occasion and the senna from drug store has additives I can’t pronounce so I thought this would be better choice since its just senna for as needed use.

    • We went through a cycle like that before we figured it out.

      How much slippery elm are you giving her daily?

      What about the Rhubarb & Marshmallow? Are you going to try those too?

      I love that you are adding them one at a time. That may help us figure out exactly which one is the *magic* ingredient.

  • How’s it going, Jennifer? Did you add anything else? I’d love to hear an update!

    Tina

  • TSpar – is this the product you used through this whole post? You mentioned a product with magnesium that was flavored, so I’m confused. 🙂

    http://www.amazon.com/Renew-Life-Cleanse-More-veggie/dp/B000F4W86A

    • Hi Sarah,

      Yes that is the correct product.

      I was mistaken about the flavored powder without the magnesium. It didn’t have the right herbal combination and I ended up cancelling the order.

      Please let me know how it works for you.

      Tina

  • Great, thanks, Tina!
    -Sarah

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