tri means three.
katu means hot and pungent.
Trikatu is a classic mixture of three Indian spices, namely Black pepper, Piper nigrum, Long pepper fruit, Piper longum and Ginger, Zingiber officinalis, in equal proportions, widely used in Ayurvedic treatments and in Indian households. These herbs work in synergy to stimulate the digestive fire, or agni, allowing for more efficient digestion in the stomach while promoting proper bile flow, healthy detoxification and fat metabolism. It falls under both medicinal and dietary herbs. It is hot in potency, stimulative in nature, good for liver, spleen and pancreas. It stimulates the stomach to produce enzymes, and hence helps in digestion. It is a rejuvenative for kapha and also beneficial for the respiratory system, supporting healthy lungs and clear breathing.
This unique herbal combination when used along with other herbs, enhances the bio-availability of active constituents of the co-herbs in the target area of disease. Trikatu is used as an ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines, for instance in tablets such as Kanchnar Guggul, Gokshuradi Guggulu, Yograj Guggulu; in herbal jams, herbal ghees, and other medicines, such as Dashamoolakatutraya kashaya, Ashwagandharishta, and so on.
Churna is a Sanskrit term meaning powder. The fine, powdered mix of three pungent spice is known as Trikatu Churna.
Trikatu churna is also known as trayushana. Ushana means hot and pungent. It has the following benefits:
- Deepana – it improves digestive strength.
- Shleshmaghna – it balances kahpa dosha.
- Medoghna – it burns fat. Reduces cholesterol levels.
- Kushta – useful in skin diseases.
- Peenasa – useful in running nose, allergic rhinitis
- Jayet Arochakam – relieves anorexia.
- Ama – useful to relieve ama (a state of indigestion).
- Meha – useful in diabetes
- Gulma – useful in abdominal tumour, bloating
- Galamaya – useful in throat infection and diseases.
Trikatu and Digestion
Digestion is one of the first body functions to suffer in the case of stress and tumultuous emotions, as well as improper self-care, eating on the run, a lack of exercise, and inappropriate or imbalanced diet. Compromised digestion is not a rare case in the modern world. In fact, according to Ayurveda, most imbalances in the body begin with boggy, sluggish, or otherwise inefficient digestion.
The stomach produces an acid called hydrochloric acid (HCL) that is responsible for breaking down many of the hard-to-digest proteins we consume such as wheat, dairy, corn, soy, certain nuts and meats. While excess stomach acid seems to be an increasingly prevalent issue these days, sometimes it is necessary to boost the production of the stomach fire (acid). Trikatu is a wonderful tool for getting the digestion back on track, can play an instrumental role in stoking the digestive fire that is so needed for optimal health. For weak digestion/absorption Trikatu can be taken before lunch. However, before you do, it is important to rule out two possible scenarios that could undermine your success:
The stomach is lined and buffered with a bicarbonate layer of cells that is 80% water and often becomes dehydrated. To remedy this, drink 8-12 oz of water 15-30 minutes before the meal. (Do not drink this water with the meal, as this will dilute the stomach acid.)
Possible Bile Flow Issues
Bile is a buffer for the stomach acid. If the bile is not flowing adequately, then the stomach can either hold onto the acid, which is associated with occasional heartburn, or eventually turn down the production of stomach acid. If the stomach acid has been turned down because of the lack of bile, then resetting the digestive agni will not work. If you have any issues when you challenge your digestion with hard-to-digest fatty or greasy foods, then this may be a bile flow issue. And you may need to cleanse, hydrate and repair your liver before you start taking trikatu.
When your digestive furnace is weakened because of stress or other digestive imbalances, the three heating spices in Trikatu work in synergy to stimulate the digestive fire, helping your stomach increase production of hydrochloric acid (HCL), allowing for more efficient digestion in the stomach while promoting proper bile flow, healthy detoxification and fat metabolism. It primes the digestive tract to digest food, absorb nutrients and efficiently remove wastes. However, with incorrect diagnosis, the treatment of HCL acid production could irritate the stomach and intestinal wall, causing discomfort, reactive mucus production, and malabsorption.
Trikatu and the Liver:
Trikatu is experimentally proven for liver protection activity against liver damage. Its carminative and digestive effect (deepana, pachana) can be understood as it stimulates the liver to produce enzymes. Trikatu increases Pitta. Pitta = digestion capacity = digestive enzymes. One of its ingredients, namely pippali (long pepper) is especially used in treating hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. Another, black pepper, is an excellent antiviral and antibacterial spice, and hence useful in liver infection. For these reasons, Trikatu is an ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines targeted for liver disorders. For example:
- Parpatakarishtam – used in anemia, chronic liver disorders, hepatomegaly
- Sarva Jvarahara Lauha – used in hepatomegaly
- Gudapippali – used in infectious liver conditions
- Other such examples (including, but not limited to) are – Patoladi Churna, Navayasa churna.
Trikatu for ascites:
Ascites is the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity, causing abdominal swelling. The most common cause of ascites is cirrhosis of the liver. Treatment of ascites depends on its underlying cause.
Reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 13th chapter.
For the patient suffering from Kapha type ascites (udara roga with kapha doshadominance), fat-free buttermilk added with Yavani, Rock salt, cumin seeds and Trikatu is administered.
In ascites due to Pitta (pittaja udara), buttermilk prepared of well formed curd along with the powder of Trikatu.
The patient is suffering from ascites with all three dosha imbalance (sannipatika udara), should take buttermilk along with Tryusana, Yavakshara and rock salt.
Trikatu for skin diseases
Intake of Trikatu together with Harad (Haritaki), Jaggery and sesame oil for 1 month cures skin diseases. (reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 7/61).
For pitta issues, such as itching skin, ingest Trikatu just a minute before food, with ghee is best. If you feel any burning sensation, drink a quarter a cup of milk, after taking Trikatu with ghee. Then eat your food.
Trikatu and Respiratory Conditions
Trikatu is useful for asthma, breathing problems as well allergies from dust and pollution. Because of Trikatu’s hot nature, it balances Kapha and Vata doshas, both of which are imbalanced in asthma. Hence, it is very useful. It is also very useful for dust allergy. But care should be taken in its usage, as it may cause gastric irritation.
Trikatu with honey, taken after a meal can be used to treat hay fever. But in some, it may cause gastric irritation.
Trikatu in Cardiac Conditions
Trikatu helps to improve metabolism, stomach and intestine enzyme levels and to reduce cholesterol levels as well. If a cardiac patient can tolerate the hotness of Trikatu, then they can surely have it.
Trikatu works to lower cholesterol. It helps to improve fat utilisation by the body, hence helping in fat burning.
Trikatu for treating Weightloss and Obesity
Trikatu can be administered along with green tea and guggulu. But the dose of trikatu churna should be very low: only 2 grams per day, either in a single or divided dose.
Trikatu can help with weightloss. Take a very small dose (quarter teaspoon) along with a teaspoon of honey, in the morning, after food, for a period of two months. But care should be taken not to go beyond this dose, or else, it may increase your appetite and may eventually cause weight gain. However, people with a sensitive stomach should exercise precaution.
For overweight people, just mix a pinch (1 gram) of turmeric powder with water, or milk if you like it, and drink. Or you can have weight loss herbal tea, such as Tulsi green tea to substitute a healthier drink instead of coffee on an empty stomach.
The decision to take trikatu depends on your health and your needs. As we are all genetically different, with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. The doses of Ayurvedic medicines are not fixed. Exact dose depends on the age, strength, digestive power of the patient, the nature of the illness, the state of the viscera and humours, and the properties of individual drugs.
For children, the dose of Trikatu churna should be very minimal: just 2 pinches (one pinch is the amount that you can hold with thumb and index finger), mixed with a teaspoon of honey, in the morning after breakfast, for 7 days can be administered for recurring courg and cold. However, you should consult a doctor before giving this or any other medicine to children.
If you have a sensitive stomach, it may cause a burning sensation. Generally, do not exceed 500 mg to 3 grams in divided doses in a day, preferably after food. Trikatu Churna can be taken along with honey or water. If it is too spicy to taste as such, it can also be added to food and taken along with the food.
In the case of gastritis patients, where Trikatu needs to be administered, it is administered along with Shankha Bhasma.
Trikatu Side Effects:
Because of its hot potency, Trikatu may worsen gastritis. It may cause a burning sensation in higher doses.
- Exercise caution for high pitta
- – Not to be used by pregnant women.
- – Trikatu churna should not be taken for acidity. It could worsen it.