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You are hereHome › The Many Health Benefits of Indian Gooseberry
The Many Health Benefits of Indian Gooseberry
The Many Health Benefits of Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, the sour fruit of the Emblica officianalis tree, is common in India and tropical southeast Asia. Often pickled or used to make chutney, the fruit is the major ingredient in the very popular and healthy jam-like food chyawanprash.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Indian gooseberry, also called amla, is used as a rasayana (rejuvenative tonic). Modern science has confirmed the medicinal value of this ancient fruit, which is credited with cholesterol-balancing, anticancer, antioxidant, liver-protective and immunomodulating properties. However, its impact on heart health, especially its role in helping prevent coronary heart disease (CHD), stands out.
Rich in potent antioxidants, amla helps prevent oxidative stress that contributes to arterial plaque development, which in turn causes narrowing and decreased flexibility in the arteries. In a 1988 animal study in the International Journal of Cardiology, amla was shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as arterial plaque buildup in the arteries. In another animal study, amla was found to help reduce the amount of cholesterol the body makes.
But perhaps the most encouraging data on the fruit has to do with the discovery that two of its constituents—corilagin and Dgg-16—prevent the adherence of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and monocytes to the insides of blood vessels in an animal model. This means that amla actually decreases the likelihood of plaque building up in the arteries, a process that can cause high blood pressure, circulation problems and many forms of heart disease.
In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1988, amla was given to healthy men, as well as men with elevated cholesterol. Four weeks after beginning the study, cholesterol levels had decreased in both groups, but with a greater percentage decrease in men who had high cholesterol.
In an October 2008 study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, individuals were given a purified, standardized, dry amla extract for six months. Blood samples showed a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol, but an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol. There was also a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a measure of systemic inflammation and closely correlated with cardiovascular risk.
Amla has also been shown in human studies to help with diabetes and diabetic complications. In an April 2012 review in Recent Patents on Food, Nutrition and Agriculture, which examined the efficacy of herbs used to reduce high blood sugars, Indian gooseberry was noted to show consistently positive effects on fasting blood sugar levels and reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HB-A1c). A July 2011 study published in Journal of Medicinal Food found that an equal combination of green tea and amla extract greatly improved oxidative status and significantly reduced measures of diabetes and atherosclerosis in individuals with diabetes and kidney damage that required dialysis.
Several cancer studies have indicated that amla slows tumor growth, and its antioxidant properties protect against cellular damage that can cause cancer. Oxidative stress damages the DNA blueprint in cells, which diminishes the quality of cells made from that basic blueprint. In extreme cases, the cell built from the damaged blueprint does not know when to stop growing and procreating, which is characteristic of cancer cells. Oxidative stress also plays a role in heart disease, so antioxidants are not only cancer-preventative, they help to prevent heart disease as well.
A popular and clinically studied Ayurvedic medicine called Triphala is mainly composed of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica and Emblica officianalis (amla). Triphala has also shown cancer-preventative, as well as cleansing and bowel health, effects in several published studies. Whether alone or in combination, Indian gooseberry—amla—can make a profound difference in health and wellness.
By: Cheryl Myers, RN
Cheryl Myers, RN, is recognized as an expert in the health and dietary supplement field. She writes, gives public appearances, and acts as a research and media consultant. She graduated from Purdue University, and also has clinical certifications in oncology and gerontology, and has a second degree in psychology. Cheryl's nationally published articles have addressed a variety of health applications for natural products, and Cheryl has been a featured guest on radio shows, and is frequently interviewed by a variety of periodicals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Prevention Magazine, and Healthy Living. Myers is head of Scientific Affairs and Education for EuroPharma, Inc.
May 24th, 2012