What is Chyawanprash: Is This Latest Health Fad Legit?

This is a relatively new one to the US, and we can thank social media for Chyawanprash popping into the public discussion.

It originated as a health supplement that has been used in Indian households for centuries. Now, as to whether it does all too much is up for debate, and some of the claims around its effects are wildly overblown.

That’s not to say that there’s no evidence to support that it has some health benefits. Generally speaking the likelihood is that most legitimate benefits are in relation to the antioxidant profile of the mix. [1]

The problem is that there simply isn’t enough space for 40 herbs, without using specific extracts in a 10 gram serving that is made up of mostly ghee (a type of clear butter).

What is Chyawanprash?

Chyawanprash is a combination of over 40 herbs and plant extracts, with the primary ingredient being amla. While Chyawanprash is known for its immune-boosting and antioxidant properties, there is also growing interest in its potential for weight loss. Although unfortunately, it’s quite likely to be somewhat overblown as a lot of the flavonoids in the mix that are shown to health benefits aren’t present in large enough doses to be effective. It’s also not going to be standardized for these compounds so it would be hit and miss.

What’s In Chyawanprash

The main ingredient in Chyawanprash is amla also known as Indian gooseberry. Amla is rich in vitamin C and is known for its immune boosting properties. Chyawanprash also contains a blend of other herbs and plant extracts although what we’re really getting from this mix is the benefits from Alma.

The full list being:

  1. Amla (Indian gooseberry)
  2. Honey
  3. Ghee (clarified butter)
  4. Sugar or jaggery
  5. Sesame oil
  6. Ashwagandha
  7. Cardamom
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Long pepper (Pippali)
  10. Indian bay leaf (Tejpatra)
  11. Bamboo manna (Vanslochan)
  12. Indian rose chestnut (Nagkesar)
  13. Malabar nut (Vasaka)
  14. Indian trumpet flower (Shyonaka)
  15. Sandalwood
  16. Shatavari
  17. Guduchi
  18. Arjuna bark
  19. Bael fruit
  20. Bilva
  21. Haritaki
  22. Gokshura
  23. Vidari Kand
  24. Punarnava
  25. Kakoli
  26. Kakanasa
  27. Pushkara
  28. Agnimantha
  29. Gambhari
  30. Musta
  31. Shalaparni
  32. Prishnaparni
  33. Brihati
  34. Kantakari
  35. Tamalaki
  36. Draksha (grapes)
  37. Haritaki
  38. Kapikacchu
  39. Jivanti
  40. Pippali

The Problem With Chyawanprash Dosage

A lot of these ingredients do have health benefits, but the problem with most Chyawanprash pastes is that it’s largely honey and butter. And there’s no standardization for the manufacturing.

Generally it is then recommended to take about 10-20grams a day (two table spoonful’s).

The Alma, Ghee and Honey tend to make up around half of the mixture, and when we’re adding in 37 more ingredients there just isn’t enough space. As we’re left with 10grams and most of the ingredients require half a gram to a whole gram.

Now, take for example Ashwagandha, this has been proven to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and improve athletic performance, which could help weight loss, but you need 3-600mg of standardized extracts. [2]

Or take cinnamon, studies have shown it can have positive impacts on blood sugar regulation, but again you need quite a lot of it 2 grams. [3]

Ultimately putting small amounts in there aren’t going to do all too much.

Amla however, there is plenty of it, and it there’s some evidence that it’s a solid antioxidant

Research published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" [4] demonstrated that amla extract possesses significant antioxidant activity. It’s also a study that shows it’s pretty good for digestive issues. in the "Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine" highlighted amla's potential in reducing gastric problems. [5]

There’s also some suggestions it can have heart health benefits with a study in the "International Journal of Cardiology" reported that amla supplementation lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in patients with coronary artery disease. [6]

There’s some animal studies as well that show Chyawanprash could potentially have some use for diabetics and for inflammation.

Chyawanprash Nutrients

Whilst it's not possible to give a perfect breakdown of the vitamins and minerals in Chyawanprash due to it not being standardized, here's a rough idea.

Vitamin CAbundant due to Amla (Indian gooseberry)
Vitamin APresent, often due to herbal ingredients
IronMay be present, depending on ingredients
CalciumMay be present, typically from herbs and spices
PotassiumCan be found in some herbal components
CopperOccurs naturally in some of the ingredients
ZincPresent in trace amounts from various herbal components
MagnesiumMay be present, often from herbal sources

Bioactive plant compounds: antioxidants, alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolics and saponins

Potential Side Effects of Chyawanprash 

Chyawanprash is generally considered safe although as always minor gastric distress is always a possibility with pretty much any herbal mix.

So is Chyawanprash any good?

Well, it's certainly not going to do you any harm, and a lot of the herbs in the mixture do have known health benefits, it's just that most of them aren't present in enough volume to have any of their effects. You could probably get just as much benefit from an amla (the main ingredient) supplement for a lot less hassle.

References

1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6571565/

2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/

3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9269353/

4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9137578/

5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6203864/

6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926135/

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