Doctor's Note

In honor of the Chinese New Year (of the dragon)!

Be sure to check out all my other videos on amla, and don’t miss all my videos on ranking foods

For further context, also check out my associated blog post: Açai to Zucchini: antioxidant food rankings.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    In honor of the Chinese New Year (of the dragon)! 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 where we rank foods. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • Thea

    Yahoo! I’m still working on getting some of that powder.

    I appreciate you making note of the source of the studies on the dragon blood. I won’t run out and buy some. But I will note that the picture of the bleeding tree is right out of a horror movie. Oh my.

  • DrSteve

    Why did Dr. Greger leave out any mention of a safe substance also tested for antioxidant activity in this study that has over three TIMES the antioxidant potential of amla? Amla has 301 mmmol/100 g and vitamin C has 1152 mmol/100g of antioxidant activity according to this same study.

    • BPCveg

      Dr. Steve: I guess that Dr. Greger left out the vitamin C supplement because he is restricting comparison to whole food products. In fact, he has several videos discussing the inferiority of supplements relative to whole plant foods.

      My understanding is that there is a body of literature supporting the notion that pure antioxidant compounds like like vitamin C have less overall activity in the body than the antioxidants from whole plant foods. The improved activity of antioxidants from whole plant foods may be due to synergistic effects that arise when a diversity of antioxidant compounds act together to modulate various cellular processes. To the best of my knowledge, the underlying reason why this happens is not well understood.

      Your question suggests to me that the total antioxidant potential of foods is just one dimension to a multi-dimensional description of the health value of foods. I guess that, as we learn more about the biochemistry of food interactions in the body, we will probably end up refining our food rankings.

  • BPCveg

    Great information, Dr. Greger!

    I am wondering if a more complete analysis of foods would also consider the level of pro-oxidants. Specifically, should foods be ranked by the mathematical difference between antioxidants and pro-oxidants, since they have competing effects?

  • Is any research available on astaxanthin which seems to be touted as a wonderful antioxidant?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Astaxanthin is the reason flamingos are pink (or at least flamingos in the wild; in the zoo they may be fed artificial dyes like farmed salmon–see my video Artificial Coloring in Fish). Astaxanthin is also the reason some crustacean shells turn red when boiled. One need not eat flamingo feathers or lobster exoskeletons, though. You can go right to the source and get it from green algae such as chlorella (I recommend against blue-grean algae and spirulina–see for example my videos Is blue-green algae good for you? and Another Update on Spirulina). A review last month suggests a wide range of beneficial effects, though one should note the author is listed as a dietary supplement industry consultant. With a few exceptions, I recommend against taking supplements as they have been found in some cases to be less effective (see, for example, my Produce Not Pills) or even deleterious (see Is vitamin D the new vitamin E? and my other 60 videos on supplements).

  • rymiwe

    Dr. Greger,

    Sorry if I’ve missed this from earlier. How does whole, frozen amla stack up against the dried powder? Figuring the whole fruit was bound to be more nutritious than any processed form, I promptly went out to my local Indian grocer and bought 6 pounds of the frozen variety for only $4/pound!


  • Dejan420

    What about the maqui berry? the package boasts that these berries contain 2-3 times the anti-oxident as acai.


  • compostbrain

    is the amla powder marketed as a hair product at indian groceries the same as the powder for consumption? Where are people getting amla powder?

    • Thea

      compostbrain: You may find a better source, but the best price I found for food-grade, organic amla powder is an on-line company called Mountain Rose. If you are interested, here is a link to their various amla powder products:

      Fair warning, the stuff tastes disgusting. But if you put a little into other strong foods, you can eat it. I found putting some (but not too much) in my morning oatmeal works. I think the health benefits make the effort worth while. Just don’t expect it to be easy. (Though I would be very interested if you like it or find an easy way to disguise it.)

      Good luck!

      • Thea, your warning is so refreshingly and vividly honest! You are such a wonderful part of this site. Thank you for all your participation! I find very little amla ruins my delight in a big smoothie. Yet my fiancé, Kevin does not mind it at all. I wish I had his more catholic (universally open) tastebuds. We have been using triphala which I find much more pleasant— ½ to 1 tsp to a vitamix pitcherfull of smoothie. We think we have found a source with no heavy metals. Is there any updated info on this? It seems a shame not to let people know, but I hesitate to name our source in case they are lying to us. Does anyone have recent info about if and where to buy clean triphala?

  • Neal

    One scary thought. It sounds like dragons blood is a bit dangerous, though it showed some amazing possibilities.

    QUESTION: Could it be that Amla just hasn’t been YET shown to have the mutogenic detriments of dragons’s blood?

  • Neal

    The study on osteo-despite being funded by the company-didn’t it seem like some very very credible participants involved that may make the study credible?

  • Linda

    So what happened to the Triphala Powder which shows more than double that of the Amla? Why didn’t Triphala get the highest ranking of the non-mutagenic, etc?

    • Amir

      Due to heavy metal contamination.

  • Kelly

    The powdered amla you show in the video is orange. Why is the amla powder that I bought black?

  • Lindsey<3

    Is Dragon’s Blood safe topically?

  • Iftah

    can organic amla extract in capsule form be helpful?


  • Sailing Some Day

    My doctor of oriental medicine has recommended i drink bone broth to help rebuild the cartilage around my damaged hip. I have been on a whole plant food diet for 3 years and use 1 tsp of amla fruit powder daily in my smoothie. Are there any other recommendations for plant sources of nutrients to substitute for bone broth?