A voice for
herbal medicine

We share traditional, scientific and practical insights written by experienced herbalists and health experts from the world of herbal medicine and natural health

Trikatu stimulates the circulation and boosts the metabolism


Zingiber officinale, Piper longum & Piper nigrum

Trikatu is literally translated to ‘three spices’ and is a wonderfully warming and pungent classic Ayurvedic blend. It is a heating combination that dries mucous secretions and excess phlegm whilst also rejuvenating the lungs.

Sustainability Status

Sustainability status

Not currently on risk lists but complete data may be missing on the status of the species. Read more about our sustainability guide.

Key benefits
  • Counteracts allergic reactions
  • Improves symptoms of cold and flu
  • Supports lung health
  • How does it feel?

    Trikatu is a blend of ginger, long pepper and black pepper.

    Ginger is a stout and tall green leafy herb with a characteristically tuberous, jointed root. The roots are thick and fleshy with a strong, pungent odour. Ginger is widely cultivated but originates from warm and moist areas of India, China, Sri Lanka and a number of south-east Asian countries.

    Long pepper is a slender and aromatic climber. The fruits are small, shiny and blackish green ovid berries that are embedded in fleshy spikes. Long pepper is native to South Asia and throughout the hotter parts of India.

    Black pepper is a climbing shrub that can grow to heights of 6metres. The fruits are oblong and bright red when ripe and black once dried. Black pepper is native to tropical parts of India but is also cultivated in Sri Lanka, China and Africa.

  • What can I use it for?

    The hot and drying effect of trikatu clears the lungs of mucous membrane congestion and phlegm. It will mobilise, thin and reduce excessive mucous. Trikatu stimulates the circulation and enhances the body’s natural immune response to seasonal infection. The stimulating properties of trikatu will kick-start a slow metabolism and weak digestion back into optimum functioning. Trikatu also increases the secretion of digestive enzymes that improve digestion and absorption within the digestive tract.

  • Into the heart of trikatu


    Ginger is warming and spicy in its nature providing wonderful thermogenic properties that increase the metabolism and increase the secretion of digestive enzymes. Ginger is a traditional remedy for all forms and causes of nausea. Constituents such as gingerols and shogaols stimulate the circulation and increase peripheral warmth helping to ward off the invasion of cold and damp conditions; it also will influence vasodilation and sweating. Ginger is a valuable anti-inflammatory for arthritic conditions and helps to clear congested toxins from the blood stream but also reduce the pain associated with muscular cramping and spasms.

    Long pepper stimulates the micro-circulation and contains a constituent known as piperine which enhances the bio-availability and absorbability of a number of herbs and foods, improving nutrition: This has made long pepper a traditional herb for cases of malnutrition. Long pepper has anthelmintic properties that expel parasites and balance the gut flora, ridding the body of bloating and wind. It is particularly helpful for both diarrhoea and constipation. It encourages vasodilation and, therefore, improves the circulation. From an Ayurvedic point of view, long pepper is a specific rejuvenative to the lungs.

    Long pepper

    Black pepper also contains the active constituent, piperine, giving it the ability to increase the absorption of nutrients and phytonutrients from food by improving permeation through the epithelial wall of the small intestine. The hot and penetrating nature of black pepper make it a fantastic digestive stimulant; it also increases the secretion of digestive enzymes and is a good remedy for encouraging a weak appetite. Black pepper is characteristically spicy and will stimulate the microcirculation, helping to clear excess mucous from the digestion but also the lungs, ears, nose and throat. The spicy nature of black pepper has made it effective at clearing stagnant and congested conditions that result in the formation of lumps and cysts.

    Trikatu is indicated, where there is low digestive activity with sluggishness, bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence due to kapha or vata. It helps in conditions of poor assimilation due to parasites, leaky gut or low enzyme secretions. Trikatu can help alleviate symptoms of  IBS, Candida albanicans and diarrhoea where they are irritated by food intolerances and damp, wet and heavy foods. It is a specific remedy to help burn ‘ama’ and undigested toxins in the digestive tract and blood stream.

    As Trikatu rejuvenates the lungs, it is used whenever there is coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties with clear, sticky and white phlegm. It is used in asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, cough and colds. Trikatu is a superb remedy for hayfever and acute allergic rhinitis as an immediate way of drying up the copious nasal secretions and possesses anti-allergenic effects due to its histamine reducing response. It is effective for sinus congestion and chronic nasal blockage. Trikatu has an affinity for all the orifices of the head, clearing that muzzy headed feeling and can help clear blocked ears and treat sore throats.

    Trikatu can be part of a treatment strategy where there is low metabolism, hypothyroidism and the concurrent increase in weight, low energy, and lowered immunity. Where there is high cholesterol, Trikatu may be indicated to encourage digestion of excess lipids. With any feeling of coldness, Trikatu can help to warm the body.

  • Traditional actions

  • Traditional energetic actions

    Herbal energetics are the descriptions Herbalists have given to plants, mushrooms, lichens, foods, and some minerals based on the direct experience of how they taste, feel, and work in the body. All traditional health systems use these principles to explain how the environment we live in and absorb, impacts our health. Find out more about traditional energetic actions in our article “An introduction to herbal energetics“.

  • Did you know?

    Trikatu has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance the absorption of other herbs in addition to foods.

Additional information

  • Safety

    2-3 capsules 2-3x/day or 250-500mg 2-3x/day.

Trikatu illustration
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

Sign up to our Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the very latest in herbal insights.

Sign up to our newsletter