Triphalla literally means Three (Tri) Fruits (Phalla). As such Triphalla is a combination of the three fruits: Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula).
Due to its high nutritional value, Triphala uniquely cleanses and detoxifies at the deepest organic levels without depleting the body's reserves making it one of the most valuable herbal preparations in the world.
It has a little function as a demulcent or lubricating laxative, however. It possesses some anthraquinones that help to stimulate bile flow and peristalsis. The nutritional aspect is in the form of its high vitamin C content, and the presence of linoleic oil and other important nutrients that make it more of a tonic.
Many Indians consider Triphalla to be the ‘Mother’ from nature. The reason is that Indian people believe that Triphala is able to care for the internal organs of the body as a mother cares for her children. Each of the three herbal fruits of Triphala takes care of the body by gently promoting internal cleansing of all conditions of stagnation and excess while at the same time it improving digestion and assimilation.
The three fruits of Triphala (Harada, Amla and Bihara) each correspond to the "three humours" or "tridosha" of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. According to Ayurvedic theory, the body is composed of three doshas or humours. Vata is sometimes translated as "wind" which corresponds to the mind and nervous system. Its nature is dry, cold, light and activating. The second is pitta which is also translated as "fire" or "bile." It is responsible for all metabolic transformations including the digestion and assimilation of food as well as assimilation and clarity of thought and understanding. The nature of pitta is primarily hot, moist and light. Kapha is sometimes translated as the "water" or "mucus" humour and is responsible for all anabolic or building functions such as the development of muscle and bone tissue. Its nature is cool, moist and heavy.
Harada, having a bitter flavor, is associated with the vata humour and with elements of air and space. It balances imbalances of the vata humour. Harada possesses laxative, astringent, lubricant, antiparasitical, alterative, antispasmodic and nervine properties.
Among Tibetans, Harada is so highly revered for its purifying attributes that it is the small fruit that is depicted in the hands of the "medicine Buddha" in their sacred paintings or tankas. Of the three fruits, Harada is the most laxative and contains anthroquinones similar to those found in rhubarb and cascara.
Amla has a sour flavor and corresponds to the pitta humour and the fire element in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a cooling tonic, astringent, mildly laxative, alterative, antipyretic.
Amla is the highest natural known source of vitamin C, having 20 times the vitamin C content of an orange. The vitamin C in Amla is also uniquely heat stable. Even when subjected to prolonged high heat, as in the making of the Ayurvedic tonic formula called Chyavanprash (Amla, as the primary herb comprises 50% of the formula), it loses hardly any of the vitamin C that was present when it was freshly harvested off the tree. The same is true of Amla that has been dried and kept for up to a year. This age and heat stable form of vitamin C that Amla possesses is due to the presence of certain tannins that bind and inhibit its dissipation.
Bihara is astringent, tonic, digestive and anti-spasmodic. Its primary flavor is astringent and the secondary is sweet, bitter and pungent. It targets imbalances associated with the kapha or mucus humour, corresponding to the earth and water elements in Ayurvedic medicine.