Amalaki and Digestive Health

indian gooseberry fruit in tree
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In This Article

Amalaki has long been used as a natural remedy by practitioners of Ayurveda, an alternative medicine system from India. Amalaki (Êmblika officinalis) is a fruit with a bitter taste that’s not usually eaten on its own, but instead prepared as part of a meal or condensed into supplement form.

According to Ayurvedic medicine, amalaki is helpful for a wide variety of health problems, improving healthy functioning of the liver, heart, brain, and lungs. While these benefits are still being researched for traditional use, some studies have found benefits of amalaki, including improving digestion, and hyperlipidemia. 

Also Known As

• Amla

• Indian gooseberry

Health Benefits 

Amalaki is widely used as a medicinal plant in Ayurveda and traditional medicine in Southeast Asia. It’s known for its nutrition, as a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants, and is thought to have healing properties such as anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial.

While research is still limited, there have been some studies showing the benefits of amalaki as a complementary treatment to conventional medicine.

Amalaki contains a wide variety of nutritional substances, including vitamin C, amino acids, pectin, and polyphenols including tannins and gallic acid.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In Ayurvedic medicine, amla has been used for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including:

  • Anemia
  • Hyperacidity, or excess stomach acid
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation
  • Jaundice
  • Diabetes

Potential Uses in Conventional Medicine

Studies have shown that amalaka may be beneficial in treating heartburn. A 2018 study tested 68 patients who had symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). One group of patients was given two 500-milligram (mg) Amla tablets twice a day after meals while the other group was given a placebo. After four weeks, the patients who took the Amla tablets had a significant reduction in heartburn and regurgitation symptoms.

Amla may also have some benefit in reducing fats and lipids in those with hyperlipidemia. A 2019 study tested 98 patients who received a 500-mg Amla tablet or placebo twice a day. Those who received the amla extract significantly reduced their total cholesterol and triglycerides.

In addition, studies have shown that amalaki may have anti-aging properties. A study of participants, ages 45 to 60, found that amalaki helped maintain the length of DNA telomeres, which usually shorten with aging.

Possible Side Effects 

Because amalaki is rich in fiber, it may lead to gastrointestinal issues, including bloating, stomachaches, and diarrhea. In addition, it has anti-diabetic effects that may lower blood sugar, which may cause problems if you’re taking diabetes medications. Check with your doctor before using an amla supplement to make sure it’s safe for you, particularly if you have a health condition like diabetes, or if you’re pregnant or nursing. 

Dosage and Preparation

Amla fruit is typically bitter to eat on its own, so it's usually mixed with other foods or used in candies and juice. Indian gooseberry is generally safe to eat in foods. It’s rich in vitamin C, which is water soluble, so any excess amount leaves the body as urine.

As a supplement, it can be dried and ground into a powder that you can mix in beverages. Amla supplements are also typically available in a 500-milligram (mg.) capsule. Dosages may differ depending on the product, but some studies report giving participants 500 mg. capsules twice daily. 

Amalaki can be used on its own, or as one of three fruits used to make up the Ayurvedic supplement known as triphala. Triphala is typically prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners for the relief of abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation. The other two fruits that are used come from the bibhataki and haritaki trees. 

As of now, there haven’t been enough studies to thoroughly test what dosage of amla supplement is safe. Check with your doctor before using amla extract tablets, especially you have another medical condition, are scheduled to have surgery, or are taking other medications. 

What to Look For

You can find amalaki or amla as a capsule or powder. Dietary supplements aren’t reviewed by the government before they are marketed, so be skeptical of any claims that are made by the manufacturer.

Although amalaki has been used for centuries, much is still unknown about its safety and effectiveness. Don't forget the importance of consulting with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement or any other over-the-counter remedy.

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Article Sources
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Additional Reading