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  • Can Triphala Cause Acid Reflux?

    Can Triphala Cause Acid Reflux?

    In Ayurvedic medicine triphala has been regarded as one of the safest laxatives to use in cleansing the colon, relieving constipation, and toning the gastrointestinal tract. But can triphala, revered for its digestive benefits, be a potential culprit behind acid reflux?  

    Read along as we delve into the depths of this intriguing question - To separate fact from fiction and offer you a comprehensive understanding of triphala’s relationship with acid reflux.

    What is Acid Reflux?  

    According to Ayurveda, acid reflux is called urdhwaga amlapitta. It is caused by a vitiation or denaturing of pachaka Pitta. This subtype of Pitta dosha governs the digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid released in the stomach.1 

    When vitiated it causes a burning sensation in the chest and an upward movement of the vitiated gastric contents.2 

    Acid reflux is often present with symptoms like indigestion (avipaak), tiredness (klama), nausea (utklesha), sour and bitter burping (tikta amla udgar), heaviness (gauravam), heart and throat burn, and a dislike towards food. 

    Acid Reflux Causes3 

    These are the common causes of acid reflux. 

    • Eating large meals and lying down right after a meal
    • Being overweight
    • Eating fried and oily food
    • Excessive alcohol intake
    • Smoking
    • Eating after long intervals
    • Eating before the previous meal has been digested
    • Skipping meals
    • Incompatible food combinations
    • Excessive intake of tea or coffee
    • Having too much water with meals

    What Causes Acid Reflux? 

    According to Ayurveda, acid reflux is a result of vitiation and aggravation of pachaka Pitta dosha.  

    If you don't know your dosha then take this quiz to find out. 

    To explain further, Pitta dosha is one of the doshas. It symbolizes heat or fire. It is hot, sharp, intense, acidic and pungent in nature and is located in the stomach. 

    Aggravated and vitiated Pitta leads to an increase in the acidic content of the stomach fluids. Actually, the reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents into the esophagus occurs in most  individuals due to the various reasons listed above. 

    Balanced pachaka Pitta released at proper times helps in the proper digestion of food. Vitiated or aggravated Pitta (denatured Pitta) suppresses the jatharagni (digestive or metabolic fire) and one cannot digest food properly.4 

    This results in ama formation. Ama is undigested food. It is broken down by fermentation rather than digestion, and fermentation aggravates Vata or Kapha dosha.5 

    Pitta is considered similar to agni because both share common attributes of heat. The question arises as to why the aggravated Pitta suppresses and extinguishes the agni (metabolic fire). 

    This apparent controversy is solved by the simile “jalam, taptam, ivanalam”. That is, why does hot water extinguish a fire, despite both of them having a heating effect? So, the aggravated Pitta, though hot, causes the extinction of agni (metabolic fire). This happens because Pitta, in addition to ushnata (heat) has dravata (liquidity). 

    Want to know more? Click here: GERD: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Causes, Symptoms + Ayurvedic Rem (theayurvedaexperience.com) 

    Acid Reflux Treatment with Ayurveda6 

    Acid reflux originates in the stomach with Kapha and Pitta vitiation being the root cause of the disease. 

    The first line of treatment is emesis or vamana (an act of vomiting) for those who are strong. There is no other treatment as effective as emesis (vamana) in the case of amlapitta or acid reflux. 

    After emesis, whatever lingering doshas are left are pacified by fasting (langhan) with a light diet like moong dal or green gram soup or other pacifying digestive recipes. 

    In urdhwaga amlapitta, where there is an upward movement of the aggravated doshas, no drugs should be taken abruptly because they cannot be digested properly as there is already ama formation (undigested materials). 

    Drugs should be digested properly in order for them to be effective. In the case of acid reflux, the digestive fire is deranged and unable to digest anything and tries to throw out whatever comes in contact with it. 

    This is the Ayurvedic line of treatment for acid reflux. 

    • Vamana (emesis)
    • Deepan herbs (rekindles digestive fire)
    • Pachan herbs (digestive)
    • Laghu bhojan (light, easily digestible diet)
    • Mridu virechana (mild purgative)

    Vamana causes gastric emptying, and the diminished digestive power should be restored with deepan and pachan herbs and along with digestive capacity, the natural movement of Vata is maintained. 

    READ MORE: Six Easy Ayurvedic Tips For Healthy Digestion

    When the remaining lingering doshas reach thelarge intestines due to the restored natural movement of the Vata (apana vata), mild purgatives can be administered to remove the doshas. This is where the role of triphala comes in.  

    Triphala can be administered at this time as mild purgative7 and one can get rid of the amlapitta or acid reflux by taking the triphala 

    READ MORE: Rekindle Your Digestive Fire And Balance Ama The Ayurveda Way

    Can Triphala Cause Acid Reflux? 

    It is not right to say that triphala causes acid reflux. Some people may, once in a while, experience the symptoms of acid reflux upon taking triphala, but this is simply due to its improper administration. 

    When there is an aggravation of Kapha and Pitta dosha and derangement of Vata dosha, intake of any kind of medicine will lead to acid reflux. 

    So, in this case, the person can use a simple procedure to throw out the aggravated dosha, followed by the intake of warm saltwater. 

    Once the aggravated doshas are thrown out of the body and the digestive fire regains its capacity, the person can take triphala churna or triphala capsule for mild purgation but not before the aggravated doshas in the stomach (amashaya) are emptied or thrown out. 

    In Ayurvedic practices, triphala has been used for gastric disorders, poor digestion, assimilation of food, constipation, and liver dysfunction for many years. 

    Pharmacodynamics of Triphala 

    Triphala, as the name suggests, is a combination of three fruits (Tri means three and Phala means fruits). It is believed that triphala is a blessing in its true essence because it is believed that triphala cares for the internal organs much in the same way as a mother takes care of her child. 

    In triphala, the fruit of haritaki, amalaki, and bibhitaki are mixed in equal quantities. It is popularly known as triphala but is also known by the names of phalatrik or vara. 

    Triphala is a widely used Ayurvedic supplement rich in antioxidants. It possesses diverse beneficial properties. When these three fruits combine together, it becomes a wonderful rasayana, which rejuvenates the whole body. 

    Triphala is tridoshic. Specifically, it pacifies Kapha and Pitta. Triphala is the safest laxative and strengthens the digestive organs. 

    The Three Fruits in Triphala8 

    Amalaki (Indian gooseberry) 

    Amalaki or Indian gooseberry has been considered one of Ayurveda’s therapeutic boons since ancient times. 

    The vitamin C content of one amalaki is 20 times greater than oranges. It has all the five rasas or tastes with amla rasa (sour taste) being predominant. 

    This property makes it tridoshic in general and specifically Vata pacifying. Due to its cooling energy, it is Pitta pacifying and supports the healthy functioning of the liver and immune system. 

    Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) 

    Literally, the name haritaki means that which is sarva dosha haraor that which helps get rid of all the doshas/rogas. Haritaki consists of all the five rasa (tastes) with kashaya rasa (astringent taste) being predominant. 

    It is used as a mild laxative and its dry fruit is antidiarrheal. It is anti-inflammatory and has been used for wounds, chronic ulcers, chronic constipation, and piles. 

    Although it has a hot potency (ushna virya), it balances all  three doshas. In addition to this haritaki has a laghu (light) and ruksha (drying and rough) nature which provides a scraping effect. It thus helps detoxify the blood and digestive system. 

    Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) 

    Bibhitaki can be examined by virtue of its qualities. Its astringent taste pacifies Kapha. Due to it’s sweet post digestive taste, it pacifies Pitta. Its hot potency helps in reducing Vata. 

    This way it is tridoshic in general and works on Kapha dosha in particular. Bibhitaki has a scraping effect on Kapha accumulation in the respiratory and other systems of the body. 

    Triphala for Digestive Disorders9 

    As mentioned above, the anushna virya (not very hot and not very cold potency) of triphala renders it a very balanced herb and thus makes it useful in internal cleansing. 

    Triphala has a gentle effect on the bowels, it helps improve peristalsis and cleanses the colon of toxic wastes. By virtue of the combination of the three fruits, triphala acts as a highly nutritious formula as well as aids in blood and liver cleansing . 

    Triphala is also full of vitamin C content and other nutrients like linoleic oil which makes it a nourishing supplement that rejuvenates the body tissues and helps you evolve gracefully. 

    The three ingredients of triphala mixed together pacify Kapha and Pitta in particular and stimulate the digestive fire. It thus aids in digestion, assimilation, and absorption of the nutrients from your dietary intake. 

    But if there is diminished agni (metabolic fire), derangement of dosha results in amajirna, indigestion, and accumulation of undigested material in the stomach. Whatever is administered, the body tends to throw it out. 

    Even herbs or medication needs to be digested by the agni for proper action. In Ayurvedic practices, triphala has been regarded as the safest laxative. It is used in cleansing of the colon, constipation and to tone the gastrointestinal tract. 

    Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before taking triphala for any treatment.  

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    2. Amlapitta – Meaning, Symptoms, Types, Prognosis (easyayurveda.com)
    3. HYPERACIDITY article and FAQ final.pdf (ccras.nic.in)
    5. GERD, Heartburn: Ayurvedic Treatment, Tips, Remedies (easyayurveda.com)
    6. (PDF) Management of Amlapitta (gastritis) in Ayurveda: A review (researchgate.net)
    7. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine - PMC (nih.gov)
    8. Triphala is a Detoxifying Laxative that Supports the Blood and the Liver (planetherbs.com)
    9. Triphala is a Detoxifying Laxative that Supports the Blood and the Liver (planetherbs.com)


    1 Response

    Gaurav Mago
    Gaurav Mago

    September 13, 2022

    I am suffering from Acid reflux from last 25 years and have gone through many treatments but no relief.

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