Trikatu is a potent ayurvedic medicine and kitchen spice made from equal parts of powdered dry ginger, long pepper, and black pepper. Due to the sharp pungency of the spices, Trikatu is an effective ayurvedic medicine for digestion, gas , bloating, respiratory health, and weight loss.
In the kitchen, Trikatu is used as a seasoning to improve the taste of yogurt-based curries and Yakhni meat broths.
Trikatu is Sanskrit for “three sharp” spices. “Tri” translates to three, “katu” means pungent. Trikatu is also known as Katu-Traya, the three pungent spices, especially in the South of India.
When Trikatu is powdered, it is called Trikatu churna, churna being the word for crushed. It is widely available in this form.
In traditional kitchens, dry ginger or shunthi, marich black pepper, and pippali, long pepper is pounded in a mortar and pestle right before seasoning a dish, just as we sprinkle black pepper to finish a savory soup or sauté, in the West.
What are the medicinal properties of Trikatu?
Trikatu is used in over 210 medications in Ayurveda either as a blend or as pepper, long pepper or dry ginger. As per Ayurvedic pharmacology, ‘Trikatu’ is:
‘Katu-Tikta rasa’ meaning bitter- pungent
‘Ushna’ hot Virya potency
‘Madhura rasa’, a sweet after taste
‘Vata-kapha Nasaka’, reduces imbalance in circulation and reduces excess mucus.
Based on the Sanskrit Ayurveda texts Trikatu has the following healing properties:
Arocaka, improves taste perception especially effective during conditions like anorexia
Agnimandya, helps in improving digestion
Amadosa, reduces the formation of endotoxins
Gala Roga, brings relief from diseases of the throat
Pinasa, is effective in chronic rhinitis/sinusitis
Kustha, heals diseases of the skin
Swasa, breathing trouble
Kasa, chronic cough
Tvakroga, skin diseases
Gulma, bloating, hard stomach
Meha, excessive urination due to diabetic conditions
Sthaulya, weight gain, and obesity
Slipada, parasitic infections
With active compounds like piperine, 6-shogaol, and 6-gingerol, Trikatu has also shown an anti-inflammatory effect in both rheumatoid arthritis and acute gouty arthritis based on modern research.
What is Trikatu good for?
Trikatu churna is an excellent digestive and when added to chutneys and appetizers, it stimulates hunger and gets the digestive enzymes flowing. Trikatu is used in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to cleanse endogenous toxins called ama, in opening the channels and detoxing the liver.
Trikatu is effective in healing painful bloating due to poor digestion and gas.
Trikatu is also good for reducing bad cholesterol in the body and improving immunity against colds and coughs.
If you are fighting a cold, a sprinkling of Trikatu in your chicken soup will help clear mucus and relieve any headaches and cough.
What is Trikatu made out of?
Trikatu is made of equal parts of dry black peppercorn, long pepper, a sharper cousin of black pepper, and dry ginger. This mix is powdered till it is fine.
The churna is a yellowish-green colored fine powder with a savory, aromatic odor, sharply pungent, numbing effect on the tongue.
Most of us are familiar with the taste of pepper and dry ginger. The third spice Pippali tastes earthy and is an important spice used in meat curries and soups in some parts of India. This reduces toxicity and improves the taste and digestion of the meat.
In some homes, wet curry paste is made with additional dry spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, fresh ginger, and garlic.
Trikatu Top benefits
Trikatu powder tastes spicy, hot, and aromatic due to the flavonoids in black pepper, long pepper, and ginger. It warms the throat as it passes down and is an excellent seasoning for winter dishes.
Apart from its culinary uses, Trikatu is a widely used Ayurvedic medicine for diabetes, cholesterol, liver health, and reducing inflammation. As a Rasayana medicine, Trikatu is effective in gaining weight and strength.
Trikatu has been found to have alkaloids, sugars, phenols, quinone, tannins, and triterpenoids. These chemicals make this an effective remedy for lifestyle caused diseases like obesity, cholesterol, and long-term cough.
Trikatu ayurvedic medicine for digestion
The digestive fire or Agni is a key indicator of health in Ayurveda. When the Agni is weak, we are not able to digest properly, we accumulate toxins due to poor digestion, and are unable to extract nutrition from our diet. Trikatu is prized for its ability to fan the flames of digestion.
Trikatu for Weight Loss
Trikatu has been researched for its ability to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and to increase HDL cholesterol. Daily use of Trikatu in diet can reduce the risk of hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis even when consumed with a high-fat diet.
Trikatu for Allergies
Laboratory tests have not confirmed Trikatu as an effective anti-allergenic any more than camphor, eucalyptus, or menthol. Extract of Trikatu was used topically on mosquito bites and no significant healing was observed in the size of skin bumps, redness, and swelling.
Is Trikatu good for Vata?
When Vata is high, usually indigestion, gas, and bloating are common.
This blog about Vata Imbalance and how to heal it may be useful.
Trikatu is a powerful digestive that helps calm Vata, gets the digestion going, eases any Kapha, or sluggish mucus in the sinuses.
Due to its pungency, Trikatu may cause a Pitta imbalance especially in those who are in a Pitta phase of life like menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or those who are a Pitta Body Type.
If you are unable to tolerate Trikatu, a Panchakarma cleansing may be beneficial to restore your gut health.
Can you take Trikatu and Triphala together?
Trikatu and Triphala are Ayurvedic herb blends that have hundreds of uses for various ailments in the body.
Trikatu is a powerful digestive and decongestant.
Triphala, a blend of three fruits, Amalaki, Vibhitaki, and Haritaki, is a mild laxative. Both have entirely different uses and are therefore prescribed to be taken at different times.
Traditional Ayurvedic Toothpaste is made with Triphala, the blend of three fruits, Trikatu, the blend of three spices, Tri Jataka, made of equal quantities of bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom, mixed with honey.
Trikatu by never taken by itself and is always taken with food so it doesn’t cause heartburn and acidity just as you would never bite into a chili pepper.
One of the uses for Triphala is as a stool softener. Triphala is prescribed with ghee and warm tea before bedtime to help ease morning bowel movements.
Trikatu Recipe for Home Use
Dry ginger: 10 grams
Dry black pepper: 10 grams
Dry Pippali long pepper: 10 grams, available in Indian grocery stores
Pound in a mortar and pestle till finely powdered. You can also use a blender after breaking up the ginger into smaller pieces.
What are the side effects of Trikatu?
Trikatu is well tolerated by adults and even children if taken with food.
Trikatu is highly pungent, unless it was taken with food, it is important to consult with an Ayurveda physician about dosage.
The following people should especially consult with a physician before using a Trikatu supplement:
Women who are pregnant, menstruating, in menopause or breastfeeding. These conditions make the body sensitive to warming foods and can cause a Pitta or heat imbalance.
People with acid reflux issues. If you have acid reflux, please do not take it without guidance from a qualified medical professional. Spicy Trikatu is likely to aggravate acid reflux issues.
People with inflammatory conditions should take Trikatu under a physician’s supervision if taken as a supplement.
People who have an intolerance for heat, should avoid Trikatu.
People with ulcers in the mouth and tongue, should not be taking Trikatu.