For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
Emblica officinalis has antioxidant effects. It has not been shown to treat cancer in humans.
E. officinalis is commonly used in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India, for various ailments including diarrhea, jaundice, headaches, inflammation, and as a tonic. It is also one of the constituents of a popular Ayurvedic formulation, Triphala. All parts of the tree including the dried and fresh fruits, seeds, leaves, root bark, and flowers are used. Studies done in the lab and in animals suggest that E. officinalis has antioxidant, antibacterial, liver protective, cardioprotective, antiulcer, antitumor, antidiabetic properties. Small studies in humans show that it has antioxidant and lipid-lowering effects.
E. officinalis has strong antioxidant effects, and may therefore interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Small studies showed that E. officinalis reduces HDL cholesterol and improves LDL levels in diabetic individuals.
Studies in mice that indicate that E. officinalis may inhibit tumor growth. However, human studies are needed in order to confirm this effect.
Lab studies suggest protective effects against doxorubicin toxicity.
There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
Used in traditional medicine for jaundice. Clinical data are lacking.
Animal studies suggest E. officinalis can reduce fever and pain.
E. officinalis was shown to reduce inflammation in lab studies. Human data are lacking.
Traditional use and results from lab studies support this use.
Data from lab studies and small human studies indicate hyperlipidemic effects.
Do Not Take If
For Healthcare Professionals
Emblica officinalis is a deciduous tree prevalent in some parts of Asia. All parts of the tree, especially the fruit, are commonly used in traditional medicine for various ailments including diarrhea, jaundice, headaches, inflammation, and as a tonic (1). It is also one of the constituents of a popular Ayurvedic formulation, Triphala. The activity of E. officinalis is often attributed to its antioxidant constituents, such as ascorbic acid, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins (2) (3). Preclinical studies indicate antioxidant (1) (4) (5), antibacterial (6), hepatoprotective (7) , cardioprotective (3) radioprotective (8), antiulcerogenic (9), antitumor (10), analgesic (11), antidiabetic (12) and antihyperlipidemic (13) properties.
Limited clinical data suggest benefit in patients with uremia by reducing oxidative stress (5); for improving HDL and lowering LDL-cholesterol levels in diabetic patients (16); and for lowering lipid levels and blood pressure in patients with hyperlipidemia (17) (23). Supplementation with an E. officinalis extract was shown to lower multiple risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in overweight adults (21); and when used as an adjunct, may be useful in the management of metabolic syndrome (24). In other studies, it was found to benefit those non-erosive reflux disease (25); and as an adjunct, reduced inflammation and periodontal destruction in patients with chronic periodontitis (26).
Because E. officinalis exhibits strong antioxidant effects, it may interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Mechanism of Action
The antioxidant activity of E. officinalis is attributed to the high content of ascorbic acid (4), but it was reported that such effects may be due to the tannins, Emblicanin A and Emblicanin B (1). The antidiabetic property is thought to be due to the herb’s ability to reduce release of inflammatory cytokines that cause insulin resistance (12). E. officinalis may also play a role in preventing age-related hyperlipidemia by reducing nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein levels via inhibiting NF-kappa B activation (13). In another study, the herb extracts were shown to induce apoptosis in mature osteoclasts, an effect that may limit bone resorption in pathologies associated with bone loss (15). And a hydroalcoholic extract of E. officinalis demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects by increasing glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase activities, and subsequently decreasing lipid peroxidation (19).
Several studies have also investigated the antitumor properties of E. officinalis. Pyrogallol, a component of E. officinalis extract, was found to cause cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase, inhibit proliferation, and induce apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma (H441) and squamous cell cancer (H520) cell lines (2). Intraperitoneal pyrogallol injections also suppressed subcutaneous tumor growth in mice (2). An aqueous extract decreased tumor volume through inhibiting the cell cycle regulating enzyme CDC25 (10). Progallin, extracted from E. officinalis leaves, also caused cell cycle arrest in the G1/M and G2/M phase, inhibited proliferation, and induce apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (BEL-7404) (14). In other studies, E. officinalis extracts were shown to inhibit cell growth both in vitro and in vivo possibly via inhibition of angiogenesis and activation of autophagy in ovarian cancer cells (20); and demonstrated cardioprotective effects against doxorubicin toxicity in vitro (3), which was attributed to antioxidants.