The growing interest in ayurvedic medicine in the West

Harry G. Psaros

The word ‘Ayurveda’ is from the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit, and literally means “Science of Life” (ayus, means ‘life’ and veda, means ‘related to knowledge’ or ‘science’). Ayurvedic medicine is a 5,000 year old system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and practiced in other parts of the world as ‘alternative or holistic’ medicine.

Ayurvedic tradition believes that a ‘healthy state’ is directly related to healthy digestion. Most people have heard the saying, ‘You are what you eat’. Ayurvedic practitioners believe ‘You are what you digest’. To truly benefit from a healthy, nutrient rich diet, you must properly digest your food and assimilate the nutrients you derive from it. A properly functioning digestive system includes regular and solid bowel movements, feelings of hunger and a surge of energy and clarity in the mind and body after digestion.

Western medicine is starting to take notice of Ayurveda and its amazing therapeutic compounds. None are more used or revered than Triphala. Triphala has been utilized by centuries for digestive support and a general nourishing tonic. It’s a botanical preparation comprised of three powerful herbs: Amalaki (Indian gooseberry, Emblica officianlis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica) and Haritaki (Indian gall nut, Terminalia chebula). The combination of the three herbs makes it a regulator of all three doshas.

Triphala comes in both powder and pill form. People tend to prefer the pill form due to its taste.

Indian gooseberry

Haritaki or the Indian gall nut is a widely used Ayurvedic formulation for a variety of purposes including healthy digestion, acute and chronic constipation and immune support. Haritaki supports the body’s natural cleansing process and a regulator for vatta energy. It removes natural toxins from the gastrointestinal tract, strengthens and nourishes all tissue levels, supports organ function and regulation of body mass index.

Amalaki (also known as Amla) or the Indian gooseberry is a bona fide Superfood. It’s often referred to as ‘The Great Rejuvenator’ and it’s a regulator for pitta energy. Amalaki is an abundant source of vitamin C. One gooseberry is equivalent to the strength of two oranges put together. Amalaki is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that fights free radicals that damage the immune system. It nourishes all tissue levels, cleanses the colon, eliminates toxins from the colon and supports healthy bowel movements. Amalaki has been shown to increase gastric emptying and posses a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity.

Bibhitaki is high in protein and omega 3 essential fatty acids and a regulator of kapha energy.  It possesses antibacterial properties and it’s often used to treat chronic and acute infections, diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, sore throats and diseases associated with the eyes, nose, heart and bladder.

Triphala is believed to detoxify and cleanse the tissues while providing a unique supply of nutrients and nourishment to improve overall digestive health. It has a myriad of benefits including antioxidant activity, rejuvenates the digestive tract, cleanses the colon, relieves occasional constipation, improved liver function, normalization of blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Triphala (literally means ‘three fruits’) is traditionally used for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and proper elimination. It’s often taken for gastroparesis, indigestion, constipation, flatulence, cramping and abdominal pain.

Natural option for gastroparesis

Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a life altering condition in which the muscles of the stomach improperly function. Under normal circumstances, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. Those suffering from gastroparesis have poorly functioning stomach muscles that are unable to properly empty stomach contents. In severe cases, the stomach completely stops working.

Symptoms of gastroparesis include mild to severe heartburn, constipation, nausea, vomiting, cramping, bloating, abdominal distention and diarrhea after eating. Sufferers of this disorder can lose an inordinate amount of weight. They often have a strong desire to eat, but loath the ramifications.

The vagas nerve, also called the pneumogastric nerve, controls the movement of food from the stomach through the digestive tract. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagas nerve is damaged.  There is no true cure for it. Dietary modification, supplementation and gastric pacemaker (worst case scenario) are options for patients.

Triphala remains one of the strong natural options available for gastroparesis. It can be taken daily as a general tonic and bowel regulator. If you opt to take Triphala for long period of time, occasionally give your body a two week break. Your body can actually adapt to its regular long term use. If you have failed or you are avoiding prokinetic drugs (Metoclopramide, Bethanechol), Triphala is your answer.



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Article reproduced with kind permission from Harry G. Psaros, the publisher of Health, Nutrition and Wellness.

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