The Top 8 Benefits of Amla with Supporting Research
Amla is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine with an incredible list of health benefits.
A whole book could be written on all of the potentially beneficial uses of the Indian gooseberry, also known as amalaki and amla berry.
Ahead are some of the most valuable for improving your health and wellness, with scientific studies to back up the claims. First a quick summary.
Primary amla benefits include:
- Rejuvenating many of your body’s organs and functions. It is considered especially beneficial for the digestive system, improving the absorption and assimilation of the food you eat.
- Boosting your immune system. Indian gooseberries are one of the world’s richest sources of free radical quenching antioxidants.
- Slowing down the aging process and promote good general health and longevity. Once again, the high antioxidant content of amla berry helps diminish free radical damage responsible for skin aging and body decline.
- Improving liver function. Studies show amla powder benefits include reducing oxidative stress on the liver by increasing master antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase.
- Reducing inflammation in arthritis and osteoporosis. Taking Indian gooseberry powder regularly is said to have a cooling effect throughout the body and particularly benefits osteoporosis and arthritis .
- Disease prevention. Studies show amla powder benefits include both heart disease and cancer protection.
- Blood sugar control. Indian gooseberries contain powerful compounds that help control fasting blood sugar levels and may help diabetics.
- Antibacterial properties. Amla berry powder has been shown to be an effective antibacterial against illness causing bacteria like staphylococcus and cholerae. It has even been demonstrated to combat ulcer causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
- Improve your appearance. Amla is even said to be good for your appearance, improving skin tone, protecting the eyes, preventing hair loss and gray hairs and aiding in weight loss.
Many more Indian gooseberry benefits have been written about and I’m sure a good practitioner of Ayurveda could advise on more specific uses.
While I have great respect for amla’s important place in thousands of years of Ayurvedic tradition, this page will focus on some of the most interesting recent scientific research to support the health claims of this wonderful superfood.
1. Antioxidant Levels in Amla
Powdered amla fruit is something I personally use most days (sometimes several times a day) ever since reading about the beneficial effects it can have on your health.
My research has shown that these Indian gooseberry benefits come primarily from its rich array of antioxidants, rather than an unusually high vitamin C content which some websites list (and which may not be the case — see What Is Amla for details).
These amla antioxidants include ellagic and gallic acid, emblicanin A and B, punigluconin, pedunculagin, chebulinic and chebulagic acid, quercetin, corilagin, isostrictiniin and many more.
Free radicals, such as superoxide, singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, DPPH, hydroxyl, nitric oxide and several others are strongly implicated as a factor in many debilitating diseases and are proposed as the main cause of aging within your body.
Detailed scientific analysis of the free radical scavenging properties of amla showed it to provide powerful antioxidant protection against these damaging compounds.
In fact, in another recent study of the antioxidant potential of approximately a thousand different kinds of herbal extracts, Indian gooseberry was one of only four superfoods chosen for their ‘prominently potent ability to scavenge superoxide radical‘, and hydroxyl radical (another damaging reactive oxygen species) as well as displaying resistance to being damaged by heat.
Taking amla as a supplement can help to protect your skin against poor dietary choices and environmental pollution that age it. Now a new scientific study has also shown that an amla fruit powder can provide significant protection against free radicals from the UVB radiation in sunlight that breaks down skin’s connective collagen and leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. More proof of the benefits of amla for your appearance.
2. Cancer Protection with Indian Gooseberry
One of the most interesting and important areas of amla research is in the field of cancer prevention. Alongside its powerful antioxidant effects, the Indian gooseberry has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, chemopreventive, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory properties that are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Studies have also shown that, along with being an exceptional free radical scavenger, amla can protect your DNA against damage from certain carcinogens and dangerous heavy metals.
While there are many compounds in amla likely to work synergistically against diseases like cancer, one called pyrogallol was shown specifically to have antiproliferative effects (prevents cancer cells spreading) on lung cancer cells in both in vitro and in vivo studies.
Other scientific research has also found pyrogallol effective against different types of cancer and suggested it be studied further with a view to using it as a cancer treatment (though whether this will be considered potentially profitable enough remains to be seen).
3. Amla Powder Benefits for Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a rapidly growing health problem related to our increasingly poor modern diets. Blood glucose levels are particularly important for diabetics to keep under control. To this end pharmaceutical drugs are usually prescribed.
A recent scientific study compared the effects on fasting blood sugar of powdered amla versus a leading diabetic drug designed to bring down blood sugar. In the study just 3 grams of powdered amla a day was shown to be even more beneficial and effective than the prescription drug at controlling fasting blood sugar levels.
It’s necessary to note at this point but I’m not advising anyone to go off drugs given to them by their doctor. Diabetes is a serious, often life-threatening disease and needs to be treated as such.
In fact, if amla’s effect on blood sugar is this powerful, taking it might be cautioned for diabetics also taking prescription drugs for blood glucose, in case it actually drops levels too far. It would be best to discuss taking it with your physician if you are currently being treated for diabetes.
There may well be a case to be made though for the benefits daily amla supplementation to help prevent the damage that leads to the diabetic condition in the first place.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is increasing in our society at an alarming rate. Even children are now being diagnosed. Replacing processed, high sugar supermarket junk with natural superfoods would be a great start to avoiding this debilitating disease and this article has some other important tips.
4. Cholesterol Reduction and Heart Disease
Heart disease, still the biggest killer of Americans, is a disease of oxidation and inflammation. Given that, it’s not surprising that a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory like amla would have a positive effect against it.
Research so far points to the health benefits of Indian gooseberry having multifaceted protective properties against developing cardiovascular problems later in life.
In the same study listed above concerning diabetes and blood glucose, researchers were surprised to see the volunteers tested also significantly improved their high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (the beneficial type of cholesterol) and reduced their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the bad kind).
Doctors can give you drugs (with side effects) to lower your LDL cholesterol. But it’s not often that a substance will also raise your HDL cholesterol at the same time, without reported side effects. These valuable health benefits were observed with just 3 grams of Indian gooseberry powder a day.
Extracts from amla fruit have also been shown to inhibit lipid peroxidation, a significant factor in developing cardiovascular disease.
Other studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Indian gooseberry at inhibiting the creation of advanced glycation end products that contribute to endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis.
Amla benefits also include preventing blood cells from sticking to endothelial linings and thickening blood vessel walls – usually the first step toward heart disease – as detailed in this scientific study.
5. Amla Powder for Osteoporosis and Arthritis Treatment
Certain cells known as osteoclasts are involved in bone loss in osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers found an amla extract was able to induce cell death in mature osteoclasts, thus potentially limiting the damage they can do to our bodies bones and joints.
Within the study they suggested amla as a potential alternative treatment for bone disease (Induction of apoptosis of human primary osteoclasts treated with extracts from the medicinal plant Emblica officinalis).
6. Indian Gooseberry Provides Liver Protection for Drinkers
Free radical damage is considered an underlying cause of alcohol induced liver complications. Three different animal studies have shown Indian gooseberry powder reduced oxidative stress to the liver.
It also restored lowered levels of the vital antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase (Protective Effect of Emblica officinalis Against Alcohol-Induced Hepatic Injury…).
7. Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Properties
New strains of bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. However, certain superfoods like amla have natural antibacterial and antimicrobial effects that may help to counteract these pathogens in your body.
Specifically, tests have shown that the pulp of Indian gooseberries is effective against staphylococcus, cholerae and pseudomonas bacteria (Comparative antimicrobial activities of Amla…).
8. Amla Berry for Gastric Ulcer Prevention and Treatment
Amla powder benefits also include preventing and even treating ulcers. An extract of Emblica Officinalis (Indian gooseberry) was shown to inhibit the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, responsible for painful gastric ulcers.
H. pylori is a particularly persistent gastric pathogen that can establish an infection in your stomach linings that may last for years, even decades. It has been estimated that around half of all people worldwide are infected with this organism.
While not everyone obviously developed ulcers from H. pylori, those that do have to live with recurrent and painful stomach inflammations that often don’t respond well to conventional treatments.
Scientists studying amla extracts usefulness against the Helicobacter pylori bacteria said it was highly effective at controlling its growth and recommended it for therapeutic use against gastric ulcers (Anti-Helicobacter pylori and antioxidant properties of Emblica officinalis…).
Prevention is Better Than a Cure
Scientific research like this is interesting, but it is unlikely to ever tell the true story of all the potential health benefits of amla. Individual isolated compounds may show great potential in studies, but it makes far more sense that the full spectrum of antioxidants and other beneficial substances found in Indian gooseberries work together inside our bodies in ways too complex to replicate in the lab.
I also feel that there is far too much emphasis on finding a miracle cure for diseases that are already in late stages of development. Surely a more important use for potentially anticarcinogenic, blood sugar controlling and heart protecting superfoods such as amla berry is in helping to prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis from ever developing in the first place.
To this end I’d recommend reading How to Use Amla for suggestions on how to add it to your daily diet, as well as dosage and side effects information.
Powdered Indian gooseberry is inexpensive, easy to take and, as this page has hopefully shown, may help enhance your health and protect you against some of the most serious diseases. Amla capsules are also available with $4 international delivery from iHerb to countries like India.
Had you read about the many health benefits of amla before, or even heard of the Indian gooseberry at all?
This superfood seems to be widely unknown in America so please share this page if you think it could help others. Hopefully, with all its beneficial properties and the weight of supporting scientific research coming out, amla won’t stay a secret for long.