The Richest Known Source Of Vitamin C That Can Help Fight Cataracts To Cancer
Amlica embillicus is the name of a small leafy tree, which has a lemony smell, and grows in the plains and low mountainous regions of the Indian subcontinent – from Burma to Afghanistan. It contains numerous beneficial ingredients, which are mainly concentrated in the edible, plum-sized fruit it produces.
Amla fruit, often referred to as Indian gooseberry, is one of the richest known sources of vitamin C – it contains 30 times the amount found in oranges – making it useful for treating throat and respiratory tract infections.
It is regarded as sacred by Indian and Tibetan healers who believe it has special anti-ageing and immune enhancing properties. Traditionally, healers have used the dried fruit to help overcome a wide range of problems like indigestion, fever, liver problems and anaemia.
Not only is amla fruit revered by Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) practitioners, extensive research is revealing that it is beneficial in preventing and treating many conditions – including stress, hay fever, arthritis, cataracts, and even cancer.
Amla is proving a useful tool in the fight against cancer
Chinese researchers have discovered that amla fruit is a rich source of therapeutic chemicals, including quercetin (which is also found in apples), gallic and ellagic acids (found in green tea), and other less well-known ones such as chebulinic acid, chebulagic acid, corilagin, and isostrictiniin (Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003 Oct;28(10):940- 3).
All of these chemicals are powerful antioxidants, which help protect you from harmful free radicals that can increase the risk of a wide range of serious diseases including cancer.
This is backed-up by preliminary research findings, which suggest that amla may play an important role in the fight against cancer.
For example, in a study carried out by scientists at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagasaki University, in Japan, amla extracts were found to be able to prevent the growth of cancerous cells in the stomach, skin and womb (Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Feb;27(2):251- 5).
Amla helps counteract the harmful side-effects of anti-cancer drugs
Research is also revealing that amla fruit is effective when used alongside conventional cancer treatments such as the anti-cancer drug Doxorubicin.
This drug is able to kill a large number of cancerous cells, and can save cancer patient’s lives even when the disease has progressed. However, one major drawback associated with the drug’s use is that it can damage the heart muscle.
Recently, Thai scientists from the Department of Pharmacology, Srinakharinwirot University, in Bangkok, tested various plant extracts to determine whether they could prevent Doxorubicin’s detrimental effect on the heart.
As well as amla, other plants involved in the study included curcuma longa (curcumin), piper rostratum and morus alba – all of which are used by Ayurvedic practitioners to help fight against cancer.
The scientists found that all of the plants were successful when it came to protecting the heart from Doxorubicin. However, amla extract demonstrated the best heart-protective benefit and was in fact 12 times stronger than the rest.
This finding is important because it shows that amla may counteract the dangerous side-effects of conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy (Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2005 Jan;96(1):80- 7).
Anti-inflammatory action makes it beneficial against hay fever and arthritis
Amla not only possesses potent antioxidant properties but can also help reduce inflammation. Recently, Indian researchers from the Natural Remedies Research Centre, in Bangalore, found that a herbal remedy containing amla was effective against hay fever – which causes inflammation and irritation of the delicate linings of the nose and eyes.
The preparation, which also included the herbs terminalia chebula, terminalia bellerica, albizia lebbeck, piper nigrum, ginger and piper longum, brought much-needed relief from the symptoms of hay fever including a blocked or runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes.
The researchers found that this herbal combination was also effective at alleviating joint inflammation caused by arthritis. This result is not surprising, as the inflammatory process involved in hay fever and arthritis is very similar – they both cause an increase in specific inflammatory chemicals like interleukin and TNF (tumour necrosis factor), and amla is known to be able to reduce levels of both these chemicals (Int J Tissue React. 2004;26(1-2) :43-51).
Other beneficial actions linked to amla
• Amla extracts have been found to have a calming, soothing effect, which can help combat stress. Research shows that amla acts as a sedative, relaxing muscles and improving sleep (Achliya GS, Wadodkar SG, Avinash KD. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004 May;42(5):499- 503).
• The fruit extract may also prevent vision loss resulting from diabetes-related cataracts. Scientists from the Biochemistry Division, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, in India, found that amla is able to block a chemical called aldose reductase, which has been heavily implicated in causing cataracts in diabetic patients (Mol Vis. 2004 Mar 12;10:148-54) .
• Several animal studies have shown that amla can help prevent a toxic build-up of heavy metals – caused by frequent exposure to metals like aluminium, lead and nickel. When vitamin C alone was used – equivalent to that found in amla fruit – only partial protection from heavy metals was provided.
However, when the whole amla fruit was used almost complete protection was achieved. This indicates that it is the combined action of the various ingredients found in the fruit that effectively helps shield DNA from heavy metal poisoning (Dhir, H.A. Agarwal; A. Sharma, and G. Talukder. Cancer Letters 59.9 18, 1991; Giri, A.K. Cytologia 51, pp 375-380, 1986).
What to take for best results
The recommended dosage is two amla tablets taken twice a day at mealtimes. There are no known contraindications, but as always you should check with your practitioner before taking it – especially if you are already on any medication.