Triphala: Effective In Curbing Appetite, Weight Loss

I first read about triphala on the /r/science subreddit months ago, and it definitely piqued my interest. Or to be more accurate, my contempt, as it has all the hallmarks of being snake oil – fantastical promises, non-specific statements, and the oversimplification of facts: like a 60% increase in life expectancy? Pull the other leg.

Triphala has been known for a long time, being a combination of three fruits from trees found in India, but it’s relatively new to western science, with the first published journal article I could find dating back to just 8 years ago. It reminds me a lot of arginine in terms of its benefits to the user, at least at first glance. Like arginine, it helps improve healing time through increased collagen, and decreased bacterial count. The anti-microbial effects of this compound appear in multiple studies too, with it being evaluated for use in root canals as an anti-microbial agent.

Its uses are potentially very broad. For example, it is pro-apoptotic (stops cancer from reproducing) according to a study from April 2018. If this finding were to be reproduced by multiple teams, it would be major news. As that is not enough, triphala protects against radiation: Treatment of mice with different doses of triphala consecutively for five days before irradiation delayed the onset of mortality and reduced the symptoms of radiation sickness when compared with the non-drug treated irradiated controls.

Wound healing, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, radioprotective… sounds pretty good right? It still gets better: scientists fed fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and triphala that was able to prolong the flies’ longevity by 60% and protect them against chronic diseases associated with aging. That’s the crazy over-simplification that first sucked me in to reading about it, sure I would find yet another supplement company peddling absolute shit.

(Disclaimer: a human just ain’t a fruit fly, so don’t buy some triphala and expect to live to 150 years old.)

Traditional Indian medicine use triphala for digestion and satiety - as in it helps fatties put the fork down. In 2012, a study in India put this to the test and took 42 mice, and fed them a high fat diet for 10 weeks. Compared to the control, the triphala supplemented mice had significant reductions in body weight, energy intake (I assume that means they ate less), and body fat %, while also improving cholesterol and lowering glucose levels. AND reversed changes in liver tissue.

Around the same time, a 12 week study of 62 participants (31 in control, 31 in test group) found that 5 grams of triphala twice daily led to a mean weight loss of 4.82kg. No adverse effects or significant changes to liver or kidneys were observed. It also seems to have some positive benefits to reduction of stress.

At what cost does it manage to do all these wonderful things? There’s NO data on side effects, and NO data on long term use, but the fact it’s been used for a while in India gives me some confidence in its safety. I see no clear understanding on just how triphala works either.

For our purposes, I see this being used to support a cut while on cycle, alongside compounds that impact lipids. It seems to be commonly available in 1 gram doses from a quick Amazon search, but I see no reason to not dose at 5 grams twice per day given how well tolerated it is.