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.