Saturday, January 3, 2015

Postpartum Support with Amla Plex (Enhanced Chavanprash) {Postpartum Health & Healing}

There's a funky new supplement that my Naturopath recommended to me as I try to repair my adrenals and support my body after the birth of my third child. It's called Amla Plex, and it's a blend of Amla fruit and other herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine.

My N.D. gave me a great explanation as to why I should try it, but honestly, I was in such a fog that I complete forgot WHY she recommended it. I did my own research to find out why, and I'm happy to share it with you to see if it's something you want to try to support your system.

(I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Always, always consult with your healthcare provider. If they haven't heard of Amla Plex, you can print out the resources here and take it in with you. There are potential side effects to using Amla and your doctor can help you discern if it's right for you. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article and product is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure and disease.)

What is Amla? 

Amla is native to India and is also known as Indian Gooseberry. It's incredibly rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, full of fiber, and a great all-around immune system support. Dr. Vrindi Devani refers to it as the "Ayurvedic Multivitamin."

Although this fruit has been used for thousands of years, scientists are only now starting to explore its benefits. All of the research presented here is preliminary and little has been "Proven." What HAS been confirmed is Amla's rich nutritional profile.

The site Superfoodly has put together the most comprehensive list of studies on Amla that I was able to find. A few facts of note:

  • The Amla berry tests higher on the ORAC test (antioxidant measurement) than acai and blueberries and 20x more vitamin C than oranges.
  • Amla also might be helpful in lowering inflammation in the body. Amla has cooling properties, and in Ayurvedic medicine, is classified as a cooling pitta herb. 
  • Also exciting was labwork that showed Amla extract "demonstrated antiviral activity against hepatitis B, influenze A strains, herpes simplex, and other viruses." Granted, these were lab simulations. The antiviral effects are untested on both humans and animals.
  • Research has also shown that Amla has potential positive cognitive effects, as well as improvement in blood sugar regulation and liver function. More exciting preliminary research has been done on Amla's effectiveness on treating different kinds of cancer, but it is very preliminary (as in, been done on animals.)

Amla for the Postpartum & Adrenal Support

The massive hormonal shift after birth, coupled with other prolonged stressors like sleep deprivation, can tax the adrenal glands and make it difficult for the body to come back into balance. If you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, Amla might be a supplement for you to consider. Amla is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body to support its own healing. I love this article from Delicious Obsessions, which dives into Amla's adaptogenic properties at more depth.

How do I use Amla and Enhanced Chavanprash? 

I take Amla in the form of Amla Plex (Enhanced Chavanprash, or Chyavanprash, or many other spellings). Classified as an ayurvedic jam, "prash" in Sanskrit refers to a specially prepared food. The main ingredient is Amla, and then there are 15+ additional herbs and fruits added, depending on the brand, along with ghee and a sweetener of sugar or honey.

The consistency of a Chavanprash with Amla is a little like apple butter. It's like a slightly spicier and complex apple butter with allspice, cinnamon, and clove. I was taking a little bit off the spoon but recently started adding a 1/2 teaspoon to my smoothies. Some people also like to spread it on toast or mix it in warm milk.

Side effects can occur if you use too much - like with most any herbs. Plants are powerful! The recommendation is no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons per day.

Personally, I use 1/2 teaspoon and have not worked up to more, and I've been using it for a while. My body is sensitive to all supplements and it feels the best to me to stay at 1/2 teaspoon. I naturally have blood sugar issues and low blood pressure, and I can feel when I've had too much. I may increase it during the winter months, but maybe not!

Again, plants are medicine! There are possible side effects to using Amla (it is a fruit, you might be allergic). Side effects may include: diarrhea or loose stools (from the high fiber), increased risk of bleeding (from the high vitamin C content), unwanted weight loss (too much acts as a diuretic), lowering of blood sugar and blood pressure. It has not been tested during pregnancy.

Amla might be a beneficial addition to your postpartum nutrition. Talk to your medical provider first, and with their approval, start out with 1/4 teaspoon and work up to 1-2 teaspoons per day.

I buy this Amla Plex Chavanprash from Amazon, but there's also this high-quality Chavanprash from Banyan Botanicals. 


Chyawanprash from Banyan Botanicals
The Really Big Deal about Chyavanprash
Adaptogenic Properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine
Amla Fruit profile from Superfoodly
Adaptogens: Herbs for Vitality  - Amla Fruit from Delicious Obsessions

Questions about Amla? Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments! 

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