Plain language summary
Emblica officinalis (Amla or Indian gooseberry) is a fruit that has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to be effective in the management of dyslipidemia (abnormal fat metabolism), a risk factor for heart disease, in animal models and in pilot clinical studies without major side effects. This multicenter, randomised, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a proprietary full spectrum amla extract (containing pulp and seeds) in patients with dyslipidemia. 98 patients were enrolled and all completed the 12 week study. None of them were taking any medication for their dyslipidaemia. All the patients enrolled in the study were also asked to initiate lifestyle changes (healthy diet with exercise at least 4 days a week). Apart from conventional lipid parameters, the investigators also measured a number of other parameters relevant to heart disease, including the atherogenic index of plasma (AIP, a marker of heart disease risk). Compared to the placebo group the amla group had significantly greater reductions in triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol and the atherogenic index of plasma (AIP, a better predictor of heart disease risk). There were no significant changes in HDL-cholesterol, CoQ10 (lowering of CoQ10 is a concern with many cholesterol lowering drugs), homocysteine, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) or fasting blood glucose. Four non-serious adverse events were observed: mild headache, mild fever, two times gastritis (all resolved with standard treatment), three were in the placebo group, one in the amla group. There were no changes in routine blood tests and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate). The authors conclude that the amla extract has significant potential to improve dyslipidaemia without side effects commonly seen with cholesterol lowering drugs.
BACKGROUND Dyslipidemia is one of the most frequently implicated risk factors for development of atherosclerosis. This study evaluated the efficacy of amla (Emblica officinalis) extract (composed of polyphenols, triterpenoids, oils etc. as found in the fresh wild amla fruit) in patients with dyslipidemia. METHODS A total of 98 dyslipidemic patients were enrolled and divided into amla and placebo groups. Amla extract (500 mg) or a matching placebo capsule was administered twice daily for 12 weeks to the respective group of patients. The patients were followed up for 12 weeks and efficacy of study medication was assessed by analyzing lipid profile. Other parameters evaluated were apolipoprotein B (Apo B), apolipoprotein A1 (Apo A1), Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), fasting blood sugar (FBS), homocysteine and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). RESULTS In 12 weeks, the major lipids such as total cholesterol (TC) (p = 0.0003), triglyceride (TG) (p = 0.0003), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (p = 0.0064) and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) (p = 0.0001) were significantly lower in amla group as compared to placebo group. Additionally, a 39% reduction in atherogenic index of the plasma (AIP) (p = 0.0177) was also noted in amla group. The ratio of Apo B to Apo A1 was reduced more (p = 0.0866) in the amla group as compared to the placebo. There was no significant change in CoQ10 level of amla (p = 0.2942) or placebo groups (p = 0.6744). Although there was a general trend of FBS reduction, the numbers of participants who may be classified as pre-diabetes and diabetes groups (FBS > 100 mg/dl) in the amla group were only 8. These results show that the amla extract used in the study is potentially a hypoglycaemic as well. However, this needs reconfirmation in a larger study. CONCLUSIONS The Amla extract has shown significant potential in reducing TC and TG levels as well as lipid ratios, AIP and apoB/apo A-I in dyslipidemic persons and thus has scope to treat general as well as diabetic dyslipidemia. A single agent to reduce cholesterol as well as TG is rare. Cholesterol reduction is achieved without concomitant reduction of Co Q10, in contrast to what is observed with statins. TRIAL REGISTRATION Registered with Clinical Trials Registry- India at www.ctri.nic.in (Registration number: CTRI/2015/04/005682 ) on 8 April 2015 (retrospectively registered).