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Amla Versus Cancer Cell Growth

Indian gooseberries (amla), an important plant in Ayurvedic medicine, may have anti-cancer properties, as well as cough-, fever-, pain-, stress-, and diarrhea-suppressing effects.

January 12, 2012 |
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Indian gooseberries, not to be confused with Barbados gooseberries, Cape gooseberries, Chinese gooseberries, otherwise known as kiwi fruit, Jamaican gooseberries, Tahitian or star gooseberries. The true Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, is considered a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer, according to review published this year in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Arguably the most important medicinal plant in Ayervedic medicine, and also used in traditional Chinese and Thai medicine, preclinical studies have evidently shown that amla possesses anti-fever properties, anti-pain, anti-cough, anti-artery clogging, anti-stress, heart protective, stomach protective, anti-anemia, anti-cholesterol, wound healing, anti-diarrheal, anti-artery-clogging—didn’t they already say that? As well as protecting the liver, kidneys and nerves. It can also evidently be used for snake venom neutralizer as well, as a hair tonic. It’s like the kitchen sink of berry medicine.

Starting ten years ago, studies started coming out showing that amla extracts kill cancer cells in a petri dish. But lots of things kill cancer cells. You could pee in the test tube and kill cancer cells. What you want is something that kills cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and it wasn’t until recently that this was demonstrated with alma.

They tested amla against six human cancer cell lines: lung cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer , ovarian cancer, and colon cancer. This is a graph of cell growth at different amla concentrations. Here’s human breast, liver, and lung cancer cells starting out powering away at 100% growth. As you drip more amla on, the cancer cell growth rates cut in half and then stopped completely, and then amla starts killing the cancer off—the growth goes negative. By the end more than half the cancer cells dead.

Here’s cervical, ovarian and colorectal. All just decimated by Indian gooseberries. And here’s the normal cell line— the non- cancerous, At the highest amla levels, that which killed off more than three quarters of the cancer cells, normal cells just seem to get their growth rates slowed down a bit.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by MaryAnn Allison.

To help out on the site please email <a
href= “mailto:volunteer@nutritionfacts.org” >volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check back for the other videos on amla and don't miss all the videos on cancer. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer, diabetes, and cholesterolTop 10 Most Popular Videos of the YearBreast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much Is Safe?Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions, and Mushrooms and Immunity

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check back for the other videos on amla and don’t miss all the videos on cancer. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1151983040 facebook-1151983040

      Dr.Greger, I respect your work very much, but I got to this link by clicking on a FB post that claimed these berries cure cancer and doctors don’t want people to know about it. I see that you clarified that the results of the study were most likely not attainable in the body (I think that’s the upshot of what you said) and that even in the study, their ability to reduce cancer cells was only 25%. Obviously these berries do not cure cancer, though at some point, a cancer treatment may be found that utilizes them in some way. Please be careful not to feed the anti-evidence based medicine inclinations of some of the people who frequent your site. Those people don’t look at clarifications. They take the slightest suggestion and run with it. People with cancer need to follow the advice of a competent physician, not the internet.

      • Huvs

        that’s not what I understood from this video. I understood that they did try it on human cancer cells and that their anti tumour abilities went even into the negative range which is tantamount to saying it cures cancer.

        • rebeccagavin

          Only in a very distant regard, It kills cancer cells in petrie dishes, That is a far cry from curing cancer in people, smh at scientific illiteracy,

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/elvin/ Elvin

    Sound quality has been bad past few days.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

    I wanna git me sum! :-)

    It seems like these berries would be great to put on my morning oatmeal rather than those raisins (“wonderbread of the fruits”-ha! I’ll never forget that) But where to get them? I tried a quick search on Amazon where I found plenty of Alma pills, powders and beauty products, but no actual berries.

    I did find something that proposed to be an Alma juice blend, but they didn’t list the ingredients and it wasn’t organic.

    I’d be curious to hear from people who have tried these berries. What do they taste like? Are they bitter?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

      The amla berry is widely consumed throughout India. I think you should be able to get them from most Indian grocery stores and find recipes online.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

        re: location of amla berry.
        Thanks. I live in a small enough city that we don’t have an Indian grocery store. I’ll look for one the next time I travel to a bigger city.

    • http://perfectdogtraining.com/ Trainer

      I use a dried amla powder. There’s no other way to describe the taste other than horrid.  Even putting it in a large smoothie couldn’t hide the bitter, vile taste. Regardless, I mix a teaspoon into a half cup of hot water and gulp it down every morning.  I close my eyes and think fond thoughts of my beloved mom forcing me to take my cod liver oil as a small child. I’ve been taking it for about 3 months now and the most noticeable effect is the regrowth of hair in a previously bald spot in my scalp. Cause and effect? I dunno. But I plan to keep taking it.

      • John at 65

        Hair – I bought a bottle of Solaray Amla 500mg and have been taking one
        pill each morning. I have a bald spot on the back of my head 3 inches in
        diameter and it was completely bald. This bald spot has been increasing
        in size over a period of 20 years. After 45 days of taking the Amla I
        notice that hair is growing back there. I was shocked to see the hair
        coming back. I have also changed my diet to Vegan for the past 4 months.
        I
        originally bought the Amla for lowering my blood sugar. With the Vegan
        Diet, Amla, and exercising I have been able to stop using Glipizide for
        my diabetes. A1C was 9.8 and is now 5.3 in just 3 months. My doctor was
        impressed. And
        that was without the Amla. I still take 1,000 mg of Metformin twice a
        day. I listen to my doctor and hope to reduce other medications for
        Cholesterol and high Blood Pressure.

      • Ellen Marsh

        I tried dried amla for the first time yesterday. Yes, it’s quite sour… but so is biting into a lemon. Today I added it to a tea of sorts, hot water with lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. amla and stevia. Tasted much better!

    • Kate

       The best way my husband and I have been using them is by buying them from the freezer section of the Indian grocery store. The powder is generally not good to add to smoothies because it usually contains a significant amount of salt. We buy 12 oz bags of the whole frozen berries for $1.50 each.

      They are fairly large berries (about the size of a plum) and contain a very stubborn pit. I don’t typically thaw and then refreeze things, but I found thawing out the berries and then slicing around the pit and peeling off the slices from the pit is the easiest way to conveniently manage them. I do a whole bag at once, then freeze the rest of the slices to add to my smoothies later. A few slices go a long way. They have a sour taste and we discovered if you eat one by itself, and then drink water afterwards, the water tastes slightly sweet. (:

      Back to smoothies…they do mix well, and can be masked by other fruits. They add a thicker pulpy consistency, but I don’t find it unpleasant, and I’m not typically a huge pulp fan.

      All and all, they are very cheap, and a great addition to your smoothies. Check out the freezer section of your Indian grocery next time you are there! (:

    • mahesh

      its got a astrigent, bitter & sour taste.but the best of all is, its even sweet .you can feel the sweetness in your mouth after eating this fruit. i had severe acidity (i could actually feel the acid leaking in my stomach : this was a side effect of an antibiotic prescribed when i was suffering from flu) even after a meal had digested.i tried allopathy, but it did not help.i googled for some ayurvedic medicine & i found amla which is very reasonable and available everywhere in india. i started taking amla before every meal, it not only cured me of my acidity in two days but the continued usage has helped me regulate my bowels & i am feeling more youthful than before.i had ligament pains in my knees & its dissapeared. amla is helpful in treating diabetes, bloodpressure, arthritis, cholesterol, & many more benefits.

      • Toxins

        How do you eat your amla? I have found it frozen at Indian stores but I am not sure what to do with it and how to prepare it so that it tastes enjoyable.

        • Lawrence

          Hi Toxin, I put 2 in my daily smoothie. Even then because it is a tough berry, I need to chew on it sometimes. So, if you have a better blender than mine you may not have to chew at all but go through the actions in order to trigger saliva generation.

      • Shashi

        Amla, is arguably the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda.for more than 5000 years. Like Gold is to metals Amla is to Indian Herbs the most encouraging data on the fruit has to do with the
        discovery that two of its constituents—corilagin and Dgg-16—prevent the adherence of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and monocytes to the insides of blood vessels in an animal model. This means that amla actually
        decreases the likelihood of plaque building up in the arteries, a process that can cause high blood pressure, circulation problems and many forms of heart disease

        Capacity to repair wounds was studied on Swiss Albino mice the wound healing of Amla extract was greater than Betaine group in the wound created by excisions method *R.C. Agrwal
        Now regarding Aloevera, no Indian system of healing have ever recommended using whole leaf It always recommended using the purified Gell for health benifits Aloe is a super herb. It was so done by the western greedy people after which the greedy Indians also followed

    • Ben

      I buy them in the frozen section of the Indian grocery. Let them thaw a little, then you can cut around the very hard seed, and put it in a smoothie sweetened with something like dates and it tastes fine that way. It tastes like you have added something like a pear to your smoothie. But you cannot eat them alone, or at least I cannot, they are bitter, somewhat spicy and not sweet at all. And never just throw the whole berry in a blender, the very hard seed must be removed.

      • Thea

        Thanks Ben!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

    Based on the graph shown, the normal cell growth rate slowed down by more than just “a bit” … the change was by 50%!

    Is that an expected finding for a berry?

    What side effects may exist? Could this reduce capacity to repair wounds or effect skin / blood cell turnover rate?

    Please comment.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

      BPCveg: great question. I hope someone more knowledgeable than I also responds. I just wanted to put in 2 cents.

      You raised some points I hadn’t thought of re: wound repair. However, my initial reaction was that slowing normal cell growth would be great. Since it is my understanding that every time a cell divides, the end caps get smaller, and at some point, they can’t divide any more because of that. Thus, the less that your cells divide, the longer you would live.

      I don’t know if that is true or not. I just think it is interesting that I had the opposite reaction that you did in seeing a lowering of 50% normal cell growth. It looked good to me.

      I will be very interested to hear from someone who understands the big picture better.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

        Thea, thanks for your comment.

        You make a good point about slowing aging by affecting telomere length.

        Though I’m not sure if lowering normal cell growth is always beneficial. During chemotherapy, for example, rapidly growing cells are killed off, leading to severe side effects including depression of the immune system, fatigue, tendency to bleed easily, gastrointestinal problems and hair loss.

        I’m not claiming that the slowed growth of cells due to amla is analogous to chemotherapy. I just am looking for a fair evaluation of any potential side effects.

        • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

          BPCveg: Thanks for supplying the ‘telomere’ word.

          Also, thanks for expanding your thoughts. Your thoughts also make perfect sense to me. I hope you get your “fair evaluation”. I want to hear it too.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Note that the x-axis on that graph is logarithmic–we may not be able to attain levels at the far right hand of the graph physiologically. At the point at which the amla appears to start killing off the cells there appears to just be about a 25% drop in normal cell growth rate. You ask a great question, though. What effect might that have? Stay tuned for more videos coming up over the ensuing weeks for more on amla!

    • jazzfeed

      A corollary question: Does amla-attenuated cell growth (normal cells) return to normal rates after discontinuing the amla?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/johnnyamish/ johnnyamish

    I tried the frozen gooseberries and I must say they don’t “jive” with my palate. They took my logarithmic function and made it very untranscendetal — it tastes like poop (math joke). Anyway to make these things tastier?!??

    Thanks!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

      johnnyamish: Thanks for your taste report.

      On the topic of making them tastier. I’m not sure if you noticed, but this video on amla is just one video in a series. In a later video, Dr. Greger talks about putting some amla powder in a smoothie. It’s my guess that most people will need to do something like that to mask the taste.

      I haven’t been able to try amla myself yet, but my parents (who live in a bigger city and have an Indian store) got some frozen amla. They thawed out one of the fruits. According to my parents, it wasn’t just tart, but also really bitter. Unpalatable to them.

      We’ve talked about getting some amla powder and putting in on oatmeal. Would amla powder in oatmeal ruin breakfast or just add nutrition with no taste change or an exautic pleasant taste? I’m hoping for the latter. Let us know if you find something that works.

      Also, I’ll mention that someone else posted that Indians often prepare the berries cooked with chili(?-something spicy if I remember correctly) and salt. So, it may help to think of the food as less of a fruit and more like a strong veggie??? Just a thought.

      • Sebastian Tristan

        I just bought Amla powder and it tastes horrible. I’m currently looking for ways to ingest it.

        • Thea

          Sebastian: Since I had posted the post you responded you, I too have purchased the amla powder and found it literally made me gag. Some people are definitely more sensitive to the taste than other people as I have had friends put the amla in their smoothies and didn’t really notice the taste. (Of course the devil is in the details – how much did they put in???)

          I have found that as long as I don’t put too much powder into my oatmeal, the oatmeal tastes just fine. Especially when I make my chocolate oatmeal that has a lot of flavors in it. So, I recommend experimenting with amounts. Then you will have to see if the amount you can tolerate is a therapeutic amount.

          In the end, I mostly gave up on the amla. Instead I started playing with a berry powder that I got on line that has some amla in it along with a LOT of other high-powered berries. While the berry powder tastes a lot better, it is extremely expensive. The product would not be for everyone. Plus, since this product has not specifically been tested, I don’t know how much of an effect it would have on health.

          Just some thoughts for you. Good luck with your amla consuming! I hope it doesn’t go to waste.

          • Sebastian Tristan

            Amla powder is literally the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. To give you an example, after drinking it, I always drink some water to wash the taste. Well, after the Amla, my taste buds find this pure water sweet! Anyhow, I found a way to take it. I mix half a teaspoon of Amla twice a day (so in total a teaspoon) in water and quickly drink it. From the videos the Doc poster, a teaspoon should give enough health benefits. I also tried adding erythritol to the water, but it somehow made it yuckier. As a side note, my dermatitis/rosacea has improved dramatically. I’m not sure if it’s the Amla, the fact that this week I’m avoiding all spices or if it’s the hempseed in my beans or the hempseed flour in my oatmeal.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/racham/ Racham

    I tried putting amla powder in soup and it made the soup sour. I purchased size-00 empty gel capsule and filled them with the amla powder. I take 5 of these a day and it equals 1 tsp.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Whoah! What an incredible idea! I didn’t even know one could this. Thanks for the input!

  • kittyboo

    organic india …. i got a one lb bag for like 15.00 in local indian spice store.

  • Carol

    My friend has had 1 kidney removed in July (cancer) and now faces the spread of cancer in her lungs, liver. (not sure of anything else).  She was given 2 choices….2 take a pill at home (with very little % of success, or going in the hospital for 4 wks of chemo, home 2 and back for 4 more.  She is devastated and does not know what to do. Is this something (gooseberries) that you think would be beneficial to try…or other recommendations (she is being treated in Morgantown, WV.  are there other facilities she can contact to help, (opinions, educate on treatments, etc)  ANY info would be GREATLY appreciated. thanks….C

    • Bruce

      Carol if I were facing the challenges your
      friend is facing I would immediately contact the Burzynski Clinic in Houston
      Texas http://www.burzynskiclinic.com/. If you want some background view the documentary BURZYNSKI
      which is the story of Stanislaw Rajmund Burzynski a physician and biochemist and his
      “controversial” treatment for cancer. Also, order
      this book http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591202434/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00 titled I Have Cancer: What Should I Do?: Your
      Orthomolecular Guide for Cancer Management and read up on the mega dosage interveinous Vitamin C therapy among other cancer treatments. I wish your friend a healthy outcome.

    • Shashi

      Dear Carol,
      when my mother was 70 years she had breast Cancer, after removing her breast we were not in a postilion to do chemo because of her health condition. Since I am a Oral Cancer survivor with DNA Meditation and Amla pure juice 150 ml 3times daily.I asked her to follow the same. She came out of cancer and Kidney Problem and lived a healthy life for another 12 years. She died of an accident

      Now coming back to your friend, ask her to learn DNA Meditation and go for Pure Amla juice there is enough research on the Cytoxin ability of Amla ti cure Cancer without side effects If she cannot find a place to learn DNA Meditation ask to learn any type of Meditation from a good teacher- NO BOOKS
      Cancer is nothing but mutation of DNA. To day science says your DNA can hear and reprogram when your brain wave is at Alpa (14 to 8 cycles per second ) After !5 days of class, in a meditative level say loud enough for your hears to hear ” I am a Spirtiual.Magnetic and a Biological Being. I can therefore reprogram my Own DNA’s and use the facilities around Me like the Science, the New Biology, the New Chemistry, the New spiritual Knowledge and the New text Books just now being written on energy to change and Heal my self with my own POWERFUL INTENT

      I dont know the health status of your friend Now
      Best Wishes
      Shashi

      • Rajanna

        Hello Shashi, I am from India. Just last month my sister aged 55 years diagnosed for stage-4 esophageal cancer & Doctors refused to give any treatment may be due to her health condition is very bad. Now she is at home only without any treatment. As she could not swallow food due to damage in esophagus we could get installed a tube in her throat & now she can eat solid foods also. But, she is getting pain due to that tube also & the condition becoming worse day by day. Just yesterday we have started that soursop juice a natural juice. Can you please tell me whether we can go for this Amla juice? if so how much juice we should give & how many times etc etc.
        Please help me if you can by advicing to save my sister.

        Rgds,
        Rajanna K V
        Bangalore-India
        email-rajannakv2000@yahoo.com

  • Diamond

    can you eat gooseberries only or in a smoothies will there be any side effects because I have frozen gooseberries in my refrigerator.

  • Worried

    Hi…at my last blood sugar check (Feb. 2013), my a1C level was 6.6, down from 6.8 (Nov. 2012) after I lost 13 pounds. However, I gained back nearly 7 pounds and cannot seem to lose the weight. (I am still in the midst of a rather stressful situation from an accident my husband had last summer which left him brain injured. He has made great strides, but is still not completely himself yet. The doctor said stress can increase blood sugar.) I do not want to go on drugs because the side effects sound really scary, and was wondering if amla (I bought some frozen fruit today, the 12th, and ate 2 berries) might help me. I see my doctor for my annual check-up on the 26th of this month. Thanks for any help and keep up the great work and service you are providing the public! You are a God-send, Dr. Greger! ♥

  • Bear

    A few years back I had a double hernia surgery from an incisional hernia and an umbilical hernia from childhood. I suppose the hernia is “taken care of” but I now have a small would in my belly button. It is a small hole that oozes and I use rubbing alcohol on it to keep clean. The doctor was simply cauterizing it for quite sometime and appeared to be closing up but not completely. Surgery was other option to fix it but I haven’t gone back since in hopes of finding a way to heal myself through nutrition. You briefly mention wound healing in reference to this video on Indian gooseberries. Would incorporating this into my diet actually be beneficial in helping to heal??

  • Steve

    Hi, I’ve been using the amla powder for the past 3 months. My understanding is that to make the powder they just dry the berries in the sun and then grind them up. I’m not aware of any negative side effects and was not sure of a dosage but I have been putting a heaping tablespoon of it in my morning oatmeal. With the heaping part it is probably closer to two tablespoons. Relative to the amounts you have been discussing this is much higher levels. I notice the flavor, but even at that high level I don’t find it objectionable. My morning oatmeal mix is my own concoction that I do ahead in large batches in the slow cooker over night. My current recipe is 2 cups steel cut oats, 1 cup pot barley, 1 cup toasted wheat germ, about 3/4 cups of dried cranberries, about 3/4 cup of golden raisins, I then add a healthy blop (very precise measurement you can see :) ) of blackstrap molasses. When after I heat up my oatmeal I add 2 1/2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, then the heaping tablespoon of amla powder (I get it at an Indian grocery store and the large bag is only $1.00 and usually lasts me a couple of weeks.). I then add about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of hemp seeds and top it off with vanilla flavored soy milk. There is enough sweetness to counteract most of the bitterness of the amla and I love it and look forward to it every morning. I have not noticed any negative effects or any real positive ones other than my wife and mother-in-law keep saying my skin looks amazing.
    I add it for the antioxidants, the diabetes effects (I’m type 2 diabetic and my last a1c was down to 5.0 and my physician was ecstatic. I also have been on blood pressure meds for years and I am totally off those with current blood pressure at 118/72 (I have been vegan for past 6 months and have lost 100 lbs in past year so I can’t attribute everything to amla by any stretch, but it does not seem to hurt.). I am also taking it as a way to try and help prevent cancers or slow them down, but purely as a preventive measure. I also liked the described cholesterol effects but since going vegan I don’t have much concern about that, but any positive is good)
    If anyone has any information on medicinal dosage levels I would like to know. If anyone knows of any problems with amla consumption I would also be interested in knowing. There were a number of complaints about taste posted and questions on how to mask the flavor. The above works great for me at even a high dose. You have to make sure you mix it well or you get a lump of amla powder on the spoon sometimes.:)

    • Thea

      Steve: Thanks for sharing your recipe and story. It sounds like you are doing so well. Congrats on taking your health into your own hands and fixing things!

    • Steve

      I had a chance to speak to Dr. Gregor at Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA about the amount of amla I was taking every day. He said it seemed like a lot. (What he actually said was “My god man, have you no taste buds!? You must be taking more amla than anyone on the Planet!”) :) He said it might be good for me and I may be ahead of the research but that there is no evidence or studies at that level currently. He said the amla powder was so pharmacologically active and there was no data for higher levels so he recommended cutting back to one teaspoon of the amla powder a day as was used in one of the studies he quoted. Basically go with the best data to date and not try to extrapolate further until more data becomes available.
      Seemed like a good well reasoned response so I have cut back to the single teaspoon a day even though I had not noticed any problems at the higher level
      Thanks Dr. Gregor.

  • Steve

    forgot to mention in my oatmeal recipe that I add 9 cups of water in the slow cooker

  • Steve

    Sorry again, the flax seed, amla, hemp seed and soy milk are all added to the individual bowl of oatmeal when I go to eat it

  • skingk

    My gastroenterologist flatly stated that there was no cure for the
    “persistent carpet like polyp” he had been controlling with burning for
    two years. However when I drank amla tea upon rising and before
    retiring at night for three weeks prior to my next colonoscopy, the
    polyp was just a few small, eroded looking patches instead of the
    previously observed continuous carpet like polyp.

    I am hopeful the next exam finds a complete absence of the polyp. The doctor had previously concluded a section of my colon would have to be removed due to worsening conditions. Now he says it is not needed.

    • Thea

      skingk: Wow. That’s amazing. I think that’s so cool. It sounds like you may have saved yourself a great deal of pain, money and hassle. Good for you and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. Thanks for sharing!