Triphala is classified as a tridoshic rasayana in Ayurvedic medicine as it promotes longevity and rejuvenation in patients of all constitutions and ages.
The formula consists of the fruits Amalaki or commonly known as Amla (Indian Gooseberry), Bibhitaki, and Haritaki of the three plants generally in equal proportions and has been used in traditional medicine in India for over 1,000 years (Charak). The physician Sushrut indicated that the formula is useful for treating ulcers and wounds.
As both Ayurveda and Western medicine agree that health and disease begin in the gut, Triphala represents an essential foundational formula as it promotes efficient digestion, absorption, elimination, and rejuvenation.
Charak describes rasayanas as having the qualities of supporting strength and immunity. Given these qualities and the tonic energetics, Triphala can be considered for use in the very young, the infirmed, and the elderly. Other classical Ayurvedic classifications attributed to the formula are shukrala, digestive, mild laxative at normal doses, bowel tonic at low dose, purgative at high doses, carminative, expectorant, antispasmodic, and bronchodilator.
Triphala is perhaps most well known for its use in general gastrointestinal health. Animal studies have shown that both aqueous and alcohol-based extracts of Triphala prevent diarrhea.
One human clinical trial that investigated the use of Triphala in patients with gastrointestinal disorders reported that treatment reduced constipation, mucus, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, and flatulence while improving the frequency, yield, and consistency of stool.