Follow a healthy path with Indian gooseberry

How do you like your amla? Try it in a salad or a bake.

Indian gooseberry is a tree that grows in India, the Middle East, and some southeast Asian countries. Indian gooseberry has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Today people still use the fruit of the tree to make medicine.

Indian gooseberry is most commonly used for high cholesterol, abnormal levels of cholesterol or blood fats (dyslipidemia), and persistent heartburn. It is also used for diarrhea, nausea, and cancer, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How can it work ?

Indian gooseberry seems to work by reducing total cholesterol levels, including the fatty acids called triglycerides, without affecting levels of the "good cholesterol" called high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Indian gooseberry, or amla, is a fruit tree that grows natively in parts of Asia.

It has several culinary and herbal medicine uses, particularly in its native India. The fruit is rich in vitamin C and often purported to have potential antioxidant and heart-health benefits.

This article reviews what Indian gooseberry is, its potential benefits and downsides, and how to use it.

What is Indian gooseberry?

Indian gooseberry is known by two scientific names — Phyllanthus emblica and Emblica officinalis. It’s also commonly called amla.

This small tree has yellow-green flowers that blossom into round, edible fruits of the same color.

The fruits are about the size of a golf ball with a pit and thin peel. Their taste has been described as sour, bitter, and astringent.

The fruit is used in cooking in India, and most supplements on the market today are made only from the powdered, dried fruit or fruit extracts.

However, the whole plant — including the fruit, leaves, and seeds — is utilized in traditional Indian medicine.

Potential benefits

Indian gooseberry has several potential benefits, although more high quality studies in humans are needed to confirm many of these possible effects.

Heartburn : 

One 4-week, high quality study in 68 people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is characterized by frequent heartburn, investigated the effects of taking 1,000 mg of amla fruit tablets daily on GERD symptoms.

Researchers observed that the amla fruit group experienced greater reductions in the frequency and severity of heartburn and vomiting than those in the placebo group.Though this study is promising, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of Indian gooseberry supplements on heartburn and GERD.

Anti-aging : 

Due to its high vitamin C content, Indian gooseberry may have some promising anti-aging benefits. Vitamin c is an antioxidant that can help prevent cellular damage, which may help slow your body’s natural aging process.

Some anti-aging benefits of Indian gooseberry include:

  • Skin: In addition to its antioxidant activity, Indian gooseberry may help prevent the breakdown of collagen, which forms the firm but flexible protein matrix in your skin and soft tissues.
  • Hair: Indian gooseberry extract is commonly used in Thailand to promote hair growth, and some evidence shows that it may inhibit an enzyme that contributes to hair loss.
  • Vision: In test-tube studies, Indian gooseberry extract protected against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by improving the mitochondrial health of eye cells.

Cancer : 

In test-tube and animal studies, Indian gooseberry extracts have killed certain types of cancer cells, including breast, cervical, ovarian, and lung cancers.

Additionally, Indian gooseberry extracts may play a role in cancer prevention due to their antioxidant activity. It appears that Indian gooseberry may also help prevent cell mutations that lead to tumor growth and cancer development.

It’s thought that the many phytochemicals, such as tannins and flavonoids, in Indian gooseberries play a role in cancer prevention, along with its vitamin C and antioxidant content.

However, no research on Indian gooseberry and cancer has been conducted in humans, so this is far from a confirmed benefit. If you have cancer, be sure to follow the advice and recommendations of your healthcare team.

Heart health : 

One of the most common uses of Indian gooseberry is to promote heart health. There are many ways in which Indian gooseberry may decrease your risk of heart disease, including:

  • Antioxidant effects: Indian gooseberry extracts may protect against oxidative damage that’s associated with heart injury. This has been noted in several animal studies.
  • Regulates endothelial function:A study in people with type 2 diabetes found taking 1,000 mg of Indian gooseberry daily improved endothelial function to the same extent as the drug atorvastatin.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Human studies have noted that Indian gooseberry can significantly reduce inflammation, which is considered a key factor in the development of heart disease.
  • Normalizes blood fat levels:Human studies have observed improved blood fat profiles after supplementing with Indian gooseberry, including lower triglyceride and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Reduces blood pressure: Indian gooseberry may help reduce high blood pressure levels by acting as a vasodilator, or by widening the blood vessels. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Anti-platelet effects: Finally, supplementing with Indian gooseberry may help prevent the formation of blood clots, which may cause a heart attack or stroke if they block an artery.

Blood sugar levels : 

In animal studies, Indian gooseberry has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels.

These effects have also been noted in a small study in 32 people, in which taking 1–3 grams of Indian gooseberry powder daily for 21 days significantly decreased fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels, compared with a control group.

Given these blood-sugar-lowering effects, Indian gooseberry may play a role in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, more high quality human studies are needed.

How to use it : 

Indian gooseberry fruits can be eaten raw, although they’re very sour and may not be appealing to most people. In India they’re often pickled or candied in a simple syrup. Some regions of India also use Indian gooseberries in dal, a traditional lentil dish.

Indian gooseberry supplements are primarily marketed and sold as amla fruit powder or powder-filled capsules. The powder can be used to make tea or added to drinks and smoothies.

Most supplements contain 500–1,000 mg of Indian gooseberry powder per serving.

Additionally, because of their high vitamin C content, amla fruit powders are advertised for use in hair and skin care products. You can also buy amla fruit oils that are specifically made for use on the skin and hair.

Because there’s a lack of evidence surrounding a safe and effective dosage, don’t take more than the recommended daily dose on the supplement label.

You should also speak to your healthcare provider before starting it if you’re taking a blood thinner or medications to manage diabetes.

Immunity : 

One 100g serving of amla berries (about a half cup) provides 300mg of vitamin C—more than twice the daily recommended value for adults. You'll also find notable amounts of polyphenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids. Amla has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Healthier Eyes 

Amla berries are rich in vitamin A, which is key to improving eye health. Vitamin A not only improves vision, but it also may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Amla's vitamin C content aids in eye health by fighting bacteria, which can help to protect your eyes from conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other infections.