The Ayurvedic tradition uses the term “rasayana” to describe a specific kind of healing tonic. Typically, these tonics are used in multiple ways for general good health and to heal some specific medical problems.
Modern scientists who are experts on herbs use a similar term—“adaptogen”—to describe natural products with the potential to help your body stand up to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue.
Lately, one little fruit has captivated the attention of herbalists and Ayurvedic practitioners alike. It’s both a rasayana and an adaptogen. And it may be the answer to combating just about any health issue plaguing you…
Continued below. . .
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A new antioxidant “super fruit”: Indian gooseberry
Indian gooseberry is a deciduous tree that grows in India and bears fruit of the same name—and many other names as well. The Indian gooseberry tree is also known as amla, myrobalan, emblic, amla, or the Malacca tree.
The fruit it bears is most commonly called amla or Indian gooseberry. For some reason the plant has two botanical names: Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica officinalis.
The Indian gooseberry is a sour-tasting fruit that ripens in the autumn. It’s small, round, and colored with a light green-yellowish tinge—almost like a green plum. But unlike a green plum, it has six light-colored vertical stripes, like veins, that spread out evenly around its middle, similar to the way an orange is naturally divided in sections.
As far as I can tell from photos, the Indian gooseberry does rather resemble the European gooseberry which readers may be familiar with. But in fact the two plants are unrelated.
Indian gooseberry is found in the Middle East and a few Southeast Asian countries. It has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and today people continue to use Indian gooseberry fruit to make a variety of medicines.
That’s because Indian gooseberry boasts an impressive resumé of health benefits. For example, Indian gooseberry is known for its ability to reduce total cholesterol levels (including triglycerides, the fatty acids). But it does so without affecting your “good cholesterol” levels (HDL, or high-density lipoprotein). That’s the result reported after taking the supplement for at least four weeks.
In treating arthritis, Indian gooseberry has been shown to be just about as effective as taking glucosamine sulfate or the drug celecoxib, especially when combined into an Ayurvedic formula and taken three times a day for six months.
Like many foods, the medical results are not as fast as pharmaceutical drugs but they are safer and more long-lasting.
Particularly fascinating are the digestive benefits of the Indian gooseberry. The fruit has an exceptionally high vitamin C content, as well as several minerals and vitamins like calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, vitamin B, and other antioxidants.
Other known ailments treated by the Indian gooseberry include diabetes, atherosclerosis, pancreatitis, joint pain, menstrual cramps, obesity, inflammation, and even certain types of cancer. On top of that, it’s said to help with the following:
- Supports food absorption
- Balances stomach acid
- Fortifies the liver
- Improves mental functions
- Strengthens the lungs
- Spurs the elimination of free radicals and toxins
- Supports fertility
- Boosts skin and hair health
- Regulates body temperature
- Strengthens eyes and overall muscle tone
As you probably know, many health problems are a result of oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The ultra-high level of antioxidant agents in the Indian gooseberry fruit do the hard work of preventing or repairing this damage.
Vitamin C, which Indian gooseberry boasts in high levels, is one of the most powerful antioxidants known. That’s a large part of the reason Indian gooseberries wield the health-supporting powers they do.
But there’s more to the story…
Surprising new evidence uncovers
a secret “strength” in this fruit
Until now, Indian gooseberry has been available in multiple Ayurvedic formulations, as well as in hair tonics, as a juice, or as a supplement in dry form (tablets or capsules). But there’s a new preparation worth taking a look at, called Saberry™. Saberry™ was created by the Sabinsa Corporation and its sister company, Sami Labs.
The mission of Sabinsa is to provide alternative and complementary natural products for human nutrition and well-being. They have a history of bringing standardized botanical extracts to market as well as privately funding clinical studies in conjunction with prestigious institutions that support these products.
In 2009, Sabinsa introduced Saberry™ as a standardized extract of Indian gooseberry. The company also developed cosmeceutical applications of Saberry™, including skin lightening, anti-aging, antioxidant, hair care, UV protectant, sun care, and post-sun exposure care.
Their Saberry™ formulation is innovative because it’s the first of its kind that is standardized to contain a minimum of 10% beta-Glucogallin and 50% Gallates. In contrast, earlier Indian gooseberry extracts were standardized using ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as the biomarker, since the fruit is known to contain so much C.
Now scientists have a different take. Recent research has shown that Indian gooseberry fruit doesn’t have ascorbic acid in consistent amounts. Although the level of vitamin C is generally high, in some of the fruits it’s found only in trace quantities.
This called into question whether it was C that produces the remarkable results people enjoy when they consume Indian gooseberry. The researchers now believe it’s a different biomarker altogether that’s associated with those results. (A biomarker is a measurable indicator in something that prompts an action, like disease creation or prevention.)
Muhammed Majeed, Ph.D. and founder of Sabinsa Corporation, pointed out that the clinical efficacy of Indian gooseberries can’t be explained by vitamin C alone. “Although vitamin C is present in amounts up to 3.5% in some varieties of [Indian gooseberry], our studies show that in over 100 varieties the biological activity is due more to the beta-Glucogallin/Mucic acid gallates content than vitamin C.”
So in an effort to prepare a standardized Indian gooseberry extract, in-house studies showed that beta-glucogallin is more potent as an antioxidant molecule than ascorbic acid, and is more appropriate as a biomarker.
Saberry™ has a cumulative ORAC value of 5384 per gram (ORAC is short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity; it’s the measure of an antioxidant’s power to neutralize free radicals). ORAC values are a measure of how well antioxidant phytonutrients support general health and wellness, including aging.
A supplement worth looking into
Regardless of the form in which you take Indian gooseberry, it appears to promote long-term health benefits. But the key word there may be “long-term.” Several months’ worth of topical application or ingestion seem to be the key to success with this fruit, but keep in mind that the rewards can be great if you stay the course. Plus, side effects are few to none.
If you try the new Saberry™ formulation, which sounds promising, let me know.