How to Improve Your Immunity with Amla
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Your immune system is one of the most important systems in your body. It protects you from all sorts of diseases and illnesses, as well as other harmful things in the environment. But how can you improve your immunity?
There are many ways to improve your immunity, but amla might be the best option for you! Read on to see how amla will improve your immunity and fight off those pesky colds.
Table of Contents
Amla: A Powerful Plant-Based Medicine
Amla is one of the most powerful medicinal plants on the planet, with evidence-based benefits ranging from supporting healthy levels of blood sugar to improving hair growth.
And this is not a new discovery. Ancient cultures have used amla for thousands of years as a powerful plant-based medicine, and it is one of the most popular and frequently-prescribe herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.
So why hasn't this potent plant become more popular around the world? Well, for two reasons.
First, amla by itself is an acquired taste. In its raw form, the fruit is tremendously sour and bitter, and also has a rough texture that can be hard to swallow.
Second, it's difficult to get fresh, organic amla outside of India and Southeast Asia, where it is natively grown.
However, in recent years as western medicine has begun to confirm the incredible medicinal properties of amla, it has grown in popularity and availability.
While amla has a number of evidence-backed benefits, including reducing blood sugar, helping with weight loss, and even improving your hair and skin health, this article will focus on improving your immunity and why amla helps so much.
How Your Immune System Works
The immune system has a singular, vitally important role in your body parts: it detects and eliminates foreign antigens. This includes bacteria, viruses, or toxins of any kind.
This is primarily carried out by white blood cells, which attack and destroy foreign antigens, but is supported by a number of different organs and other cells.
White Blood Cells
White blood cells are your body's primary defense against infection and are important to improve your immunity. Their job is to identify and then fight foreign antigens to improve your immunity.
White blood cells accomplish this by producing antibodies and immunoglobulins, which are proteins that can identify specific antigens.
Then, once your body knows which antigens to attack, your white blood cells perform a process called phagocytosis – the white blood cells engulf a foreign antigen for destruction by breaking it down to its individual building blocks.
T-Cells and Other Antibodies
T cells (also called T lymphocytes) are a type of white blood cell that can “remember” past infections so they can more quickly recognize them in the future.
If a T cell identifies an antigen it is familiar with, it will act quickly to destroy the invader.
The reason your immune system can improve its immunity against a virus you've had before is because of these T cells that have “remembered” what they need to do!
T cells are also important because they signal to your body when it's time to produce more white blood cells.
If your T cell notices that the body is not producing enough antibodies to fight an infection, they will signal to the thymus for more of them to be produced.
Your bone marrow is vital to your body's defense system because it is one of the places where white blood cells are made since your bone marrow contains key building blocks like stem cells, iron, and vitamin D.
If your bone marrow is damaged or not producing enough new blood cells, it will be difficult for you to improve your immunity and fight off an infection.
The Complement System
The complement system is a network of proteins and antibodies throughout your body that are constantly "on watch" for outside intrusions.
If one part of your body is compromised by a virus or bacteria, the rest of your immune system is called on to provide support.
Essentially, the cells of the complement system are a sort of "alarm system" that helps by warning nearby cells, attracting a large number of white blood cells (including phagocytes) to destroy them, or triggering an inflammatory response.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system has many purposes in your body, but when it comes to infection, its role is as the "production source" for new immune cells.
If your lymphatic system receives an "alert" from your T cells or your complement system that there is a foreign antigen in your body, it will produce more white blood cells to improve your immunity.
This often happens when the immune system has been compromised by an infection like cold or flu and needs help fighting off additional invaders.
Your spleen is both a part of the lymphatic system -- in charge of producing white blood cells and other antibodies – as well as another "warning" organ in your body.
Usually, your spleen's job is to filter out old or damaged red blood cells. However, if your spleen notices a foreign infection like a bacteria or virus, it will start producing antibodies to improve your immunity and help fight the infection off.
In many ways, the thymus acts as the command center for a healthy immune system. When the "sensor" organs and network throughout your body start to recognize a threat, it is the thymus that tells the other parts of your immune system what to do next.
For example, when a virus enters your body, it may be detected by sensory cells in your throat or nose and then sent to the thymus for identification so that defensive action can take place.
Then, your thymus signals to your lymphatic system and spleen to produce more white blood cells, antibodies, and T-cells.
How The Immune Response Happens
The first phase of the immune response is the innate immune response, which is not specific to the invader.
This first phase of defense against pathogens includes physical barriers such as skin and mucous membranes, chemical barriers like stomach acid or bile salts in the intestine, and an inflammatory response that can help combat infections by causing blood vessels to dilate (to improve oxygen supply) and leukocytes to adhere (to improve bacterial cell destruction).
The innate immune response also includes white blood cells and T cells in the area beginning to respond in a general fashion (which can cause complications like inflammation if there are no other defenses).
Then, through signals from your T cells, spleen, and/or your complement system, your thymus starts to signal for the production of more white blood cells and T cells by the lymphatic system and/or spleen, using the resources from your bone marrow.
The second phase of the immune response is called the adaptive immune response, which is specific to a particular invader.
This phase of defense includes the production and deployment of that are able to recognize foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, making them more efficient in attacking the invaders.
The adaptive immune response is more targeted and continues until the infection is no longer threatening your body.
After the adaptive response, your body maintains copies of the requisite T cells and white blood cells, which is why you're more easily able to fight off diseases that you've had before.
The Role of Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress happens as a result of free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules that can cause damage to healthy cells. Though it's not possible to stop the production of free radicals -- which are generated as a result of natural cell processes things like breathing, eating, and exercising -- it is possible to reduce the amount of damage they cause.
This is where antioxidants come into play. Antioxidants, like vitamin a, vitamin c, vitamin e, polyphenols, and many others combat free radicals by patrolling your body and identifying these harmful molecules. Then, they donate a stable electron to them, which neutralizes the harmful effects of the free radical and recycles the molecule.
The reason antioxidants help boost the immune system is that during the process of fighting infection, your body produces a lot of free radicals as a byproduct. Think of them as a necessary side effect of your body's battle with foreign infections.
Antioxidants help lessen the severity of these free radical attacks and improve your immune system's response to infection.
How Amla Can Boost Your Immune System
Below, we’ll touch on how amla benefits the many aspects of your immune system, making it a fine recommendation not just from your nutritionist, but your healthcare professional as well.
The World's Most Powerful Antioxidant
As we mentioned above, amla has the highest ORAC (antioxidant value) of any known naturally occurring substance, making even a small amount a phenomenal addition to your diet to improve your immune health.
During the process of protecting you against foreign antigens, white blood cells produce free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative stress to cells in circulation and cells in tissues.
Antioxidants, like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin e, and carotene intervene by scavenging these free radicals, boosting your immune system and allowing it to continue doing its job.
These antioxidants even have other benefits, like helping reduce hypertension, which helps remove general stress on your body and promote overall health.
Increases White Blood Cells to Improve Immunity
Amla also has the second-highest density of vitamin C of any fruit on the planet (behind the barbados cherry), outstripping most citrus by an order of 10 or more.
This is another area where Ayurveda’s recommendation of amla fruit or amla juice is spot on, as vcitamin C is thought to be crucial to regulating your number of white blood cells.
Antibacterial Effect Helps Strengthen Your Immune System
Adding to amla’s benefits, this powerful fruit also has an independent antibacterial effect, meaning that in addition to supporting your immune function, it also directly fights bacterial infections.
Provides Chromium and Calcium to Boost Your Immune System
Amla is also a potent source of chromium, which is crucial to immune-response signaling throughout your body. When your body is fighting an infection, chromium helps signal your white blood cells and other defense measures, making it crucial to a strong immune system.
Chromium also has several other benefits, helping lower LDL cholesterol and blood glucose (blood sugar), to promote overall health so that your immune system can quench infections.
Combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, chromium is a powerful nutrient for your immune system, adding to amla’s health benefits.
Yet another benefit of amla is that it helps facilitate the absorption of nutrients like iron and especially calcium, which is vital to immune system function. Like chromium, calcium is an immune system signaler and helps your immune system know when to respond to infection.
Ways to Add Amla to Your Diet
Fortunately, there are many ways to get a daily dose of amla, both during the day and on an empty stomach.
Though their taste can be a bit too strong for some, sometimes adding this fantastic superfood to your diet can be as easy as heading to a local Indian or Southeast Asian grocery store and picking up some of this fresh berry for yourself!
Amla powder is particularly versatile, with options like chutneys with coriander and turmeric (two other excellent superfoods), mixes into salad dressings or drinks, or additions to smoothies.
One of the best ways to get the antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin e, and other nutrients your body craves!
Amla tea is one of the easiest and oldest ways to add amla to your diet and can be made by boiling a few pieces of amla in water until it becomes soft and then adding honey to taste. Or, you can make it even easier if you read on...
For a full list of ideas on how to add amla to your diet, and get all of the key nutrients like antioxidants, vitamin c, and more, you can explore some fun ideas here.
Our Favorite to Boost the Immune System – Amla Green!
The evidence is clear about one thing: amla is one of the best immune system boosters on the planet (and helps your overall health too!).
And our personal favorite (and maybe the best) way to enjoy this superfood is Amla Green, a 20x concentrated powder of organic, wild-grown amla.
Mixed in with either green tea or hibiscus, it’s a tasty mixer for drinks and teas and plays well in salads and cooking, for a daily supplement that boosts your immune function and has dozens of other health benefits like lowering your blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even making your skin and hair healthier and more beautiful.
In fact, that's why we offer a risk-free guarantee on every order of Amla Green tea. Because we believe that everyone should experience the amazing power of amla, and if you don't, we'll give you your money back.
But between us, our best guess is that you'll like it!
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.
“Bendich, A. “Physiological Role of Antioxidants in the Immune System.” Journal of Dairy Science 76, no. 9 (September 1993): 2789–94. ” ”https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(93)77617-1"
“Bonilla, Francisco A., and Hans C. Oettgen. “Adaptive Immunity.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 125, no. 2 Suppl 2 (February 2010): S33-40. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2009.09.017"
“Bronte, Vincenzo, and Mikael J. Pittet. “The Spleen in Local and Systemic Regulation of Immunity.” Immunity 39, no. 5 (November 14, 2013): 806–18. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2013.10.010"
“Cueni, Leah N., and Michael Detmar. “The Lymphatic System in Health and Disease.” Lymphatic Research and Biology 6, no. 3–4 (2008): 109–22. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1089/lrb.2008.1008"
““Effects of Chromium on the Immune System | Pathogens and Disease | Oxford Academic.” ” ”https://academic.oup.com/femspd/article/34/1/1/498748"
“Fabbri, Monica, Chanel Smart, and Ruggero Pardi. “T Lymphocytes.” The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 35, no. 7 (July 2003): 1004–8. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1016/s1357-2725(03)00037-2"
“Grinstein, S., and A. Klip. “Calcium Homeostasis and the Activation of Calcium Channels in Cells of the Immune System.” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 65, no. 1 (January 1989): 69–79."
“Hato, Takashi, and Pierre C. Dagher. “How the Innate Immune System Senses Trouble and Causes Trouble.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN 10, no. 8 (August 7, 2015): 1459–69.” ”https://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.04680514"
“Iddir, Mohammed, Alex Brito, Giulia Dingeo, Sofia Sosa Fernandez Del Campo, Hanen Samouda, Michael R. La Frano, and Torsten Bohn. “Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress through Diet and Nutrition: Considerations during the COVID-19 Crisis.” Nutrients 12, no. 6 (May 27, 2020): E1562. ” ”https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061562"
“Immune System Explained - Better Health Channel.” ”https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system"
“Jain, Isha, Pankaj Jain, Dakshina Bisht, Alosha Sharma, Binita Srivastava, and Nidhi Gupta. “Comparative Evaluation of Antibacterial Efficacy of Six Indian Plant Extracts against Streptococcus Mutans.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR 9, no. 2 (February 2015): ZC50–53.” ”https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2015/11526.5599"
“Press, R. I., J. Geller, and G. W. Evans. “The Effect of Chromium Picolinate on Serum Cholesterol and Apolipoprotein Fractions in Human Subjects.” Western Journal of Medicine 152, no. 1 (January 1990): 41–45."
“Sarma, J. Vidya, and Peter A. Ward. “The Complement System.” Cell and Tissue Research 343, no. 1 (January 2011): 227–35.” ”https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-010-1034-0"
“THAPA, PUSPA, and DONNA L. FARBER. “THE ROLE OF THE THYMUS IN THE IMMUNE RESPONSE.” Thoracic Surgery Clinics 29, no. 2 (May 2019): 123–31. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1016/j.thorsurg.2018.12.001"
“Thapa, Puspa, and Donna L. Farber. “The Role of the Thymus in the Immune Response.” Thoracic Surgery Clinics 29, no. 2 (May 2019): 123–31. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1016/j.thorsurg.2018.12.001"
“Tigner, Alyssa, Sherif A. Ibrahim, and Ian Murray. “Histology, White Blood Cell.” In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2021. ” ”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563148/"
“Vig, Monika, and Jean-Pierre Kinet. “Calcium Signaling in Immune Cells.” Nature Immunology 10, no. 1 (January 2009): 21–27.” ”https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.f.220"
“Zhao, Ende, Huanbin Xu, Lin Wang, Ilona Kryczek, Ke Wu, Yu Hu, Guobin Wang, and Weiping Zou. “Bone Marrow and the Control of Immunity.” Cellular & Molecular Immunology 9, no. 1 (January 2012): 11–19. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1038/cmi.2011.47"
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