I thought we would do a second article on Triphala for two important reasons. 1: Yes, it is that good to have around. 2: Triphala is a good example to use in highlighting the fact that different medical systems operate from very different perspectives. Here in the west we focus on taking the herbal tablet to get all of the wonderful benefits to our digestive system that I wrote about last week. According to Ayurveda – India’s medical system, tasting Triphala gives many powerful medicinal benefits too.
Why such an emphasis on taste? Taste in the Sanskrit language is the word rasa. Rasa also means emotion and rasayana is a word for rejuvenation. In our modern world, we don’t often associate those three concepts together. But in India, they all share the same root; they all stem from a central association.
Ayurveda believes consciousness is an integral part of the healing process. Getting sick often had emotional and mental components, as did getting well. Today we talk about mind/body connection or wholeness. Ayurvedic theory takes it a lot further by believing 99% of illness originates from an emotional or mental root cause. Thus, working on a person’s body was not a separate thing from working with their emotions and their mind. To them, the ability to rejuvenate ourselves is deeply integrated with our ability to balance our emotional space. To them taste and emotion are deeply interwoven to such a degree that different tastes stimulate different emotions. By manipulating the tastes we eat, we can adjust our deep emotional imbalances.
Triphala has all the primary tastes but is very high in bitterness. Bitter slows down the momentum of our desires, and thus leads to a calmer emotional and mental space. It leads to contentment instead of striving. As people drink it, they taste the bitterness strongly and that narrowing tone can sometimes be rejected by the mind. However, as our emotional space comes into deeper balance, the bitterness doesn’t jump out at us so strongly and the taste profile becomes more pleasing.
Remember: The Ayurvedic medical system has been in use for thousands of years. Their insights and methods may be different, but they have worked for millions of people.
To wrap up, here is a final way Triphala is used that exemplifies how wildly different our medical theories can be. Triphala is often used to purify the tongue and the consciousness behind speech. Thus Triphala is prescribed as a mouth scrub for all people trying to learn a second language. Just wet your finger or your tooth brush and dust with powdered Triphala. Gently brush the entire mouth including the sides of the cheeks, tongue, and gums. The cleansing that happens helps to calm deep imbalances that can lead to dullness of speech, slowness of thought, and inflexibility of the tongue and mouth. You can also use Triphala scrub to help stop yourself or your children from frequent cursing for the same reasons.