Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
A prized herb in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, amla—the Indian gooseberry—is now the darling of celebrities. Cindy Crawford, Kim Kardashian West, and Sofia Vergara are among the famous fans of amla supplements and skincare products for their beauty benefits inside and out.
But if amla could speak, it might well say, “Hey, I’m more than just a pretty face.” In both traditional use and modern science, the fruit has proved to be an overall rejuvenator and a healer of many maladies.
Did You Know?
Amla fruit contains between 1,100 and 1,700 mg of vitamin C in a 3.5-ounce serving, compared to just over 50 mg in a small orange and about 100 mg in a large one.
Studies on Amla
Researchers have analyzed the effects of amla on various processes within the human body, finding that it enhances immune function, slows down degeneration of the skin and other organs due to aging, protects cells against mutations that can lead to cancer, relieves respiratory infections, helps maintain balance in the face of stress, and provides an overall rejuvenating effect..
Research has shown that amla lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar—the major markers underlying heart disease and diabetes. One study found that a “full spectrum” extract, made from seeds and pulp of the amla fruit, significantly lowered total and “bad” LDL cholesterol during a test period of 12 weeks. The daily dose was 500 mg, twice daily, taken after breakfast and after dinner.
Another study tested 500 mg of dried amla juice in capsules, once daily. Researchers compared the supplement with a statin drug among people with elevated cholesterol. In the 42-day program, the amla supplement lowered “bad” cholesterol and raised “good” cholesterol almost as much as the drug. Both treatments also lowered blood pressure—more so with amla.
In another study, amla powder was tested on healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes. Both groups experienced lower, more stable levels of blood sugar after taking amla powder daily for 21 days. Effective amounts were 1, 2, or 3 grams of the powder daily. In addition, those taking 2–3 grams daily experienced lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and higher levels of “good” cholesterol.
How to Use Amla
Traditionally, amla is eaten as a fresh or dried fruit, in a jam or chutney made with the fruit, or as a juice. Today, amla is found in capsules, powders, and skincare and hair products.
- Amla Supplements: Amla supplements can contain dried juice, extracts from amla seeds, or a combination of extracts from the seeds and pulp of the fruit. Some supplements contain only amla, while others combine it with additional ingredients. Amla is also found in many whole-food vitamin C supplements.Amla is one of three fruits (along with harada and bihara) in triphala, a multi-purpose Ayurvedic remedy for digestive and other ailments.
- Amla Powders: Made from dried amla fruit, these can be mixed with water or added to smoothies or other foods. When combined with a little water to make a paste, amla powder can be used as a face mask or hair conditioner.
A common dose of amla extract is 500 mg, once or twice daily. For powder, 1–3 grams daily has been used in studies. Product directions often recommend ½ to 1½ teaspoons of amla powder, depending on the brand. For skincare and hair products with amla, follow product directions.
All of the mechanisms responsible for amla’s therapeutic effects are not yet fully understood. But one thing is clear: The fruit is rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C and other antioxidants, which exert many beneficial effects on health.
Amla Uses and Benefits
Studies have identified many ways in which amla benefits the human body, and in Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used to provide:
- Overall rejuvenation
- Improved immune function
- Protection against negative effects of stress
- Enhanced physical strength
- Increased sex drive
- Improved complexion
In recent years, human studies have a found that amla:
- Lowers harmful (LDL) cholesterol
- Raises beneficial (HDL) cholesterol
- Lowers triglycerides
- Lowers blood sugar
In Ayurvedic medicine, amla has been used to treat virtually any ailment, including:
- Cognitive problems
- Digestive problems
- Eye inflammation
- Hair loss
- Heart disorders
- High cholesterol
- Liver problems
- Low energy
- Nerve disorders
- Peptic ulcer
- Skin diseases
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infections
- Weak vision
Other Names for Amla
- Indian gooseberry
- Phyllanthus emblica
- Emblica officinalis
more at betternutrition.com
Read about the hidden powers of vitamin C, including its use for treating kidney stones, fatigue, and glaucoma: The Vitamin C Cure