Triphala and its constituents ameliorate visceral adiposity from a high-fat diet in mice with diet-induced obesity

Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):38-45.


Context: In India, vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) traditionally administer triphala and its constituents as therapeutic agents for promoting digestion and satiety.

Objective: The research team performed the present study to investigate the effects of triphala and its constituents (T bellirica [bibhitaki], T chebula [haritaki], and E officinalis [amalaki]) on the dietary induction of obesity (diet-induced obesity [DIO]), and other symptoms of visceral obesity syndrome, in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD).

Design: The research team obtained 42 fertile, male, Swiss albino mice, weighing 20 g each, and housed them individually in an approved small-animal facility, in a pathogen-free environment. The team generated DIO mice by feeding them a HFD.

Setting: The study took place at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani, India.

Intervention: The research team fed all mice, except those in a control group (ND), a HFD for 10 weeks beginning at 7 weeks of age, supplementing the HFDs with herbal treatments for 4 of the groups. The team divided the mice into six weight-matched groups of seven mice each: (1) normal diet (ND), (2) high-fat diet (HFD), (3) triphala (HFD+T), (4) amalaki (HFD+A), (5) haritaki (HFD+H), and (6) bibhitaki (HFD+B).

Outcome measures: The research team evaluated daily energy intake, fasting plasma glucose, serum lipid profile, and liver cytology. The team measured food and energy intake daily for 10 weeks and measured the body weight of each mouse every third day during the course of the experiment. The team drew blood samples at 2, 4, 8, and 10 weeks posttreatment and determined fasting plasma-glucose concentrations and fasting plasma concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), LDL, HDL, and plasma alanine transaminase (ALT) using commercial kits. At the completion of the study, a pathologist examined the livers and diagnosed a fatty liver based on the presence of macrovesicular or microvesicular fat in the hepatocytes.

Results: The research team's results showed that mice fed a HFD for a 10-week period, supplemented with herbal preparation(s) of triphala or its constituents, resulted in significant reductions in body weight (P < .0001), energy intake, and percentage of body fat (P < .001), as compared with mice in the HFD group. Herbal treatment significantly improved the lipid profiles of the mice by lowering serum total cholesterol (Total-C), TG, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) as compared to the mice in the HFD group. The research team also found that herbal treatment attenuated glucose levels, oral glucose tolerance as measured by the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and levels of ALT. In addition to treatment with its three individual components, treatment with a popular Ayurvedic formulation of triphala also reversed the pathological changes in liver tissue and decreased the relative weight of visceral adipose fat pads.

Conclusions: The present findings suggest that triphala and its constituents can counter the effects of an environment (ie, high dietary intake of fats) and have the potential for use as antiobesity agents with desirable lipid-profile modulating properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity, Abdominal / metabolism*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Random Allocation
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • triphala
  • Cholesterol