Can Amla Boost Your Brain Power?
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) for Brain Health
Amla fruit, also known as Indian gooseberry or Emblica oficinalis, is a superfood found in india and southeast Asia that has been used for millennia for its many medicinal properties.
But where amla diverges from many ancient cure-all remedies is that science has increasingly shown that the claims surrounding amla are actually supported by the scientific evidence.
Amla’s benefits are varied, and include everything from antidiabetic to antioxidant to anticancer properties (amla has even been shown to promote hair growth).
In this article, we’ll focus on one particular aspect of amla’s benefits — brian health — and explore how amla can improve your cognitive function both directly and through promoting your overall health.
Table of Contents
Ayurveda and Amla for Brain Function
The historical use of amla revolves around its status as a primary ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India. Amla powder, amla chutney, and amla juice are prescribed frequently in this ancient form of medicine for an incredibly wide range of different ailments.
Within Ayurvedic medicine, amla is particularly well regarded for its ability to help balance kapha, a form of energy within the body.
And though the research on this specific use has not been confirmed, amla’s use with hyper-nutrient-rich mixtures like chyawanprash and triphala has been confirmed to be some of the most powerful plant-based sources of medicinal nutrients.
It’s these key nutrients and their effect on the body that make amla such a promising natural medicine for your brain health.
Brain Health Benefits of Amla
The research on the consumption of amla and its benefits for your brain health are extensive and varied, but many areas are also still being studied.
We’ll start with the evidence that focuses on the ways amla, amla juice, and amla powder have been repeatedly shown to promote brain health and then review emerging areas of promise that have not been extensively tested in clinical trials yet.
*Note: Though there is a strong and growing body of evidence to show that amla may have some very powerful neuroprotective effects, without clinical trials it’s very difficult to make any decisive conclusions.
Helps Manage Blood Glucose
The first two ways in which amla helps promote brain function actually pertain to your overall cardiovascular health. Amla has a well-documented blood sugar modulation effect, which helps every single organ in your body, and particularly the energy-hungry brain.
Apart from the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is actually becoming known as type 3 diabetes, many studies have shown that glucose within the ideal range promotes better brain function, due to your brain’s dependence on glucose as a fuel source.
Helps Manage Blood Pressure
The second way that amla helps your entire body, and by proxy your brain, is through amla’s hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effect. Having controlled blood sugar helps is key to avoiding chronic conditions like heart disease. Moreover, proper blood pressure helps maintain brain health both short and long term.
May Prevent Alzheimers
In recent years, there has been an increasingly studied correlation between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, leading to the conclusion that Alzheimer’s is effectively type 3 diabetes.
It’s been hypothesized that this is due to Phyllanthus Emblica (another name for amla) has the highest antioxidant activity of any fruit, meaning that it scavenges free radicals and reduces oxidative stress more than any other food per gram.
Combined with amla’s anti-inflammatory effect, and its effect on key brain enzymes, and this is an area of promise for brain health that is being studied extensively.
May Support Memory
Amla (commonly referenced in these studies as Emblica Officinalis) drastically lowers cholesterol levels, which can interfere with blood flow in the brain and memory.
Studies have also shown that the reduction in oxidative stress (and boost to the immune system) from amla’s antioxidants and flavonoids also shows potential in boosting memory and other cognitive functions.
In addition to many other overall health benefits that can also help the brain (like amla’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), amla is also packed with a number of nutrients that help promote brain function.
Amla actually has the second highest vitamin C content of all naturally occurring substances, a value more than 10x that of some citrus and only surpassed by the Barbados cherry.
Vitamin C has many, many benefits to your body, especially for your immune system, and these benefits extend to your brain health as well. Multiple studies have concluded that vitamin C has benefits for your overall cognitive health, specifically when consumed as a part of your diet.
Polyphenols are an area that has shown promise in clinical trials, but some inconsistencies in methodologies have left room for improvement as to how exactly these compounds promote brain health.
There are multiple methods of action that have been proposed and explored, which cover a wide range of benefits including cognitive, mood, and memory improvements to dementia prevention, making this a promising, but still inconclusive field of research.
However, as one study explains, polyphenols consistently show “promising effects.”
Gallic acid has a strong set of neuroprotective properties, which have been documented to help slow the onset of degenerative mental disorders.
Tannins are another area of interest for cognitive protection, especially from neurodegenerative diseases.
Tannins not only have an additional antidiabetic and blood pressuring lowering effect that prevents cognitive degeneration, but studies have started to show that tannins inhibit the production of compounds (both β-Secretase and AChE) that cause degenerative disease.
Amla for Brain Health: An Important Note
To sum up the research, amla has many, many, many benefits for your overall health, which includes the overall health of your brain. In addition, amla has no clinical side effects, and may also have specific medicinal nutrients that specifically benefit different parts of your brain health.
So should you add amla to your diet? Almost certainly, and we can help with Amla Green. We take 20x concentrated amla berries and blend them with green and hibiscus teas for an organic mix that plays well as a drink or in different foods.
However, for an overall plan to tackle your brain health, you should certainly still work with your nutritionist and healthcare professional, as there’s still no replacement for personalized care to your situation.
Amla Green has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles, and we rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
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Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, is a cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. Using an evidence-based approach to nutrition and fitness, he first reduced his own insulin usage by more than 40%, and has educated thousands of people with all forms of diabetes how to reverse insulin resistance using food as medicine. Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Conference, Plant Stock, and has been featured on Forks Over Knives, NPR, PBS, KQED, Fast Company, and is the author of the upcoming book Mastering Diabetes.
- Cyrus Khambatta