- How Ayurveda Inspires Mindful Eating
- Ayurvedic Nutrition: The Ancient Recipe of Happiness
- The Loving Embrace of Snehana for the Fall
- 4 Everyday Recipes to Strengthen Your Kitchen’s Ayurvedic Power
- Understanding Gluten and How to Digest It
- Three Pranayamas and their Ayurvedic / Psychological Effects
- Seasonal Bloom: Vata
- Your Ayurvedic Kitchen: Everyday Basics
- Drop the Utensils and Eat with Your Hands!
- Ayurvedic Approach to Arthritis
Amalaki: Be Wrinkle-Free in Your Heart
Imagine a fruit that supports healthy blood sugar levels, healthy cholesterol levels, healthy blood pressure, healthy arteries, healthy heart function, and protects against the ravages of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a degenerative process that can damage cells faster that the body can repair or detoxify.
Now, a wealth of new studies on an Ayurvedic herbal fruit called Amalaki provides compelling evidence that this fruit may just be the perfect food for your heart. (1) The herb Amalaki is the dried and powdered form of the amla fruit (Emblica officinalis), which is abundant in India and a staple of the traditional Indian diet.
We often don’t take charge of our heart health until we have symptoms, or a test comes back that scares us into taking action. Keep reading to learn how to harness the benefits of this amazing, multi-faceted star of the Ayurvedic apothecary and ensure stronger heart health to come.
Amalaki has long been known to nourish and repair the skin, both on the inside and outside of the body.
As we now know, and as I have mentioned many times in my articles, the health of the inner skin and the health of the outer skin are directly related. Our efforts to keep our outer skin “wrinkle free” should, in my book, correspond to efforts to keep the inner skin healthy and “wrinkle free” as well.
What Does the Skin Have to Do With It?
The heart and all its arteries are lined with inner skin cells called endothelial cells, which make up the endothelium. These endothelial cells help regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and ensure that nutrients and oxygen get to all the vital tissues.
Stress – oxidative stress in particular– can reduce the production of a molecule called nitric oxide, which protects the lining of the arteries. Nitric oxide, a Nobel Prize-winning molecule, tells the arteries when to relax in order to improve blood flow. Without adequate nitric oxide production, oxidative stress can damage those precious endothelial cells that line the arterial walls.
In laboratory studies with cultured endothelial cells, Amalaki has been shown to increase nitric oxide production, and thus support the health of the arteries. (2)
- Oxidative stress may convert healthy cholesterols in the blood to oxidized unhealthy cholesterols that wreak havoc on the lining of the arteries, as well as the natural elasticity of the arteries in general.
- Amalaki has also been shown to support healthy and normal antioxidant activity in the blood. It gobbles up oxidized molecules called reactive oxygen species, slows the oxidation process, and enhances the body’s natural defenses against oxidative stress. (3)
Cold Hands and Feet?
Good circulation and a healthy lining of the arterial walls play an important role in our ability to keep our hands and feet the correct temperature. In one study, healthy volunteers underwent two “cold pressure” tests – one before Amalaki, and one after. This test required putting their hands in very cold water for a set period of time. Doing so acutely compromises endothelial function and raises blood pressure temporarily.
After the first test, the volunteers were supplemented with Amalaki twice a day for 14 days. All volunteers showed that same arterial stiffness and rise in blood pressure after the first cold pressure test. After 14 days of supplemental Amalaki and the second cold pressure test, the group supplemented with Amalaki had a significant reduction of arterial stiffness (8%) as a measure of endothelial health and – compared to the placebo group without Amalaki supplementation – showed supported healthy blood pressure. (4)
Amalaki has been shown to support healthy lipid levels in the blood via an important cholesterol pathway. PPAR-alpha is a metabolic sensor that supports healthy blood lipid and blood sugar levels in the blood by helping cells consume them. PPAR-activating drugs are commonly prescribed along with certain statins. (5)
Other studies suggest that Amalaki supports healthy blood pressure levels, better reactions to mental stress, and healthy blood sugar levels, all of which together lead to optimal cardiovascular health. These studies suggest that Amalaki provides unique and comprehensive support for heart and arterial health, perhaps earning it the title of the perfect herb for overall cardiovascular support.