Amalaki fruit, also known as Indian gooseberry, amla, and Emblica officinalis, is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners prize the fruit of the amalaki tree in fresh or dried form as a treatment for various medical conditions including diabetes, pancreatitis, stomach problems and inflammation. Amalaki is also used as an ingredient in Indian cooking. While the amalaki fruit has been consumed for thousands of years it has not been declared risk-free. As with most alternative remedies, amalaki is associated with some side effects.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) cautions that herbal remedies and Ayurvedic treatments are medicines and should be used with care. Any medicine, including treatments containing the amalaki fruit, could potentially cause side effects or adverse reactions with other medications. In addition, MHRA says the use of heavy metals – arsenic, lead and mercury – in unlicensed Ayurvedic remedies is a significant problem. Amalaki is not singled out but Ayurvedic products containing the Indian gooseberry should be used with caution.
Amalaki fruit appears to be safe when consumed as a regular food. There is no proven effective medicinal dose for amalaki fruit although Wellness Times says 50g of raw fruit a day for four weeks has been used for treating hyperlipidemia. Children should avoid amalaki as a remedy as there is no safely proven dose. The same goes for pregnant and breast feeding women. Amalaki may raise the risk of bleeding when taken with blood-thinning drugs including aspirin and anticoagulants. Medicinal extracts of the fruit could also reduce blood sugar levels and diabetics should use them with caution.
Vitamin C levels
The juice of the amalaki fruit contains a lot of vitamin C – 20 times more than in orange juice, according to Planet Well - and could increase levels of ascorbic acid in the body by as much as three times. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient but you can overdo it. It is almost impossible to get too much vitamin C through the diet as it is flushed from your body in urine. But herbal preparations that include amalaki fruit may provide mega doses that cause diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps, nausea and bloating.
For many people the possible dangers of amalaki fruit are balanced out by the benefits. Along with possessing the antioxidant power of high levels of vitamin C, amalaki may help diabetics improve their blood sugar control. Amalaki is also said to treat high cholesterol, eye conditions resulting from degeneration or infection, and conditions involving inflammation. Amalaki is touted as a cancer prevention remedy. More research is needed into all of these claims before proven benefits can be ascertained.