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Amalaki

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and More

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Updated April 25, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Amalaki
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Amalaki is a natural remedy long used in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India). Sometimes referred to as amla or Indian gooseberry, amalaki is sourced from Emblica Officinalis (a tree native to tropical regions in southeastern Asia). 

Amalaki contains a number of substances thought to enhance health, including vitamin C  and other antioxidants.

Amalaki is also one of the three herbs included in triphala, an herbal formula widely used in ayurvedic medicine. 

Uses for Amalaki

Amalaki is said to aid in the treatment of the following health conditions:

  • atherosclerosis
  • diabetes
  • diarrhea
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • joint pain
  • obesity

In addition, amalaki is thought to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, promote detox, sharpen memory, and protect against cancer.

Amalaki and Ayurveda

In ayurveda, amalaki is commonly used to promote longevity. It's also used by ayurvedic practitioners to improve the health of the blood, bones, digestive system, liver, and skin.

Additionally, amalaki is said to possess cooling properties that can help soothe pitta (one of the three doshas). According to the principles of ayurveda, excess pitta can contribute to inflammation, difficulty sleeping, skin problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and stress-related issues such as high blood pressure.

Benefits of Amalaki

Despite its long history of use in ayurvedic medicine, amalaki and its health effects have been tested in relatively few scientific studies. However, some preliminary research suggests that amalaki may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies on amalaki:

1) High Cholesterol

Amalaki may help prevent hyperlipidemia (a condition marked by abnormally high levels of cholesterol and other blood fats), according to a 2007 study from the British Journal of Nutrition. In tests on rats, the study's authors found that amalaki may help fight hyperlipidaemia by curbing oxidative stress.

2) High Blood Pressure

A study published in Cardiovascular Toxicology in 2011 found that amalaki may help prevent the development and progression of high blood pressure. In an experiment involving rats, scientists determined that antioxidants found in amalaki may help normalize blood pressure in part by reducing oxidative stress.

3) Diabetes

Amalaki may help protect against diabetic complications, suggests a 2012 study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. In the study, researchers found that treating rats with amalaki reduced risk of diabetic complications by improving the animals' antioxidant status and neutralizing free radicals.

4) Cancer 

Amalaki has a number of properties that may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of cancer, according to a report published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2011. According to the report, amalaki may help fight cancer through several means, such as reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and knocking out free radicals. However, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the anti-cancer effects of amalaki.

Is Amalaki Safe?

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of amalaki. However, there's some concern that amalaki may trigger certain side effects (including upset stomach).

It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with amalaki and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Amalaki

Learn about other ayurvedic herbs and their health effects.

Where to Find Amalaki

Widely available for purchase online, amalaki is sold in many natural-foods stores and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

 

Sources

Baliga MS, Dsouza JJ. "Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer." Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 May;20(3):225-39.

Bhatia J, Tabassum F, Sharma AK, Bharti S, Golechha M, Joshi S, Sayeed Akhatar M, Srivastava AK, Arya DS. "Emblica officinalis exerts antihypertensive effect in a rat model of DOCA-salt-induced hypertension: role of (p) eNOS, NO and oxidative stress." Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2011 Sep;11(3):272-9.

Yokozawa T, Kim HY, Kim HJ, Okubo T, Chu DC, Juneja LR. "Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) prevents dyslipidaemia and oxidative stress in the ageing process." Br J Nutr. 2007 Jun;97(6):1187-95.

Nain P, Saini V, Sharma S, Nain J. "Antidiabetic and antioxidant potential of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. leaves extract in streptozotocin-induced type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jun 26;142(1):65-71.

 

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