Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri) is good news for your liver, which faces potential damage almost on a daily basis. It boosts the levels of glutathione in the liver, an antioxidant that protects the liver from free radical damage and hastens DNA repair, and activates a supporting antioxidant called superoxide dismutase. The herb also helps maintain steady blood glucose levels by blocking the breakdown of some carbs in the intestine and enabling cells to take up glucose.
Also known as “gale of the wind,” bhumiamalaki is a field weed that is all kinds of good for your liver and digestion. It’s also believed to dissolve kidney stones, earning the additional title of “stonebreaker.”
The fame preceding the herb stems from the battalion of beneficial compounds tucked away in its leaves.
Why It’s So Great
1. Supports the Liver
Like a friend on constant standby, your liver bears the brunt of all the bad lifestyle choices you make – eating junk food, not exercising, drinking too much, or smoking. It’s also like a parent silently providing you with necessities, in this case, fat-digesting bile and blood-clotting proteins.
Bhumiamalaki can be your liver’s standby:
- Helps the liver remove free radicals: Glutathione is the liver’s prime tool for removing damaging molecules called free radicals like superoxide radicals.
When there are too many superoxide radicals – like when you’re not eating right, you’ve exposed yourself to pollutants, or you’re about to fall ill – the DNA in your cells is attacked and chopped up. Thankfully, glutathione helps repair DNA, but that also means less of it is available for the liver to use.
Bhumiamalaki does the liver a solid and helps level up glutathione. It boosts the activity of the enzyme superoxide dismutase which scavenges superoxide radicals. In effect, less DNA is damaged, lesser glutathione is required for DNA repair, and there’s more glutathione at the liver’s disposal.
- Prevents damage to liver cells: The liver generally uses a sweet compound called sorbitol to drive energy production. The amount of sorbitol is crucial though, because when the cells have extra sorbitol, they start soaking up surrounding fluids, swell up, and rupture.
Bhumiamalaki helps maintain this balance by gently limiting the enzyme, aldose reductase, involved in making sorbitol.
The herb bolsters this protection by suppressing the growth and multiplication of the hepatitis B virus, infamous for its damage to the liver. FYI, a healthy liver also means prevention of certain skin problems.
2. Helps Protect the Digestive Tract
An intimate point of contact between your insides and your environment, the digestive system holds the key to your good health. But what holds the key to your digestive system’s health? Foods and herbs you eat, like bhumiamalaki. Here’s how it works.
- Limits inflammation: Corilagin, a component of the herb, suppresses the release of inflammatory molecules into your bloodstream, restricting inflammation which can disrupt the digestive process.
One such molecule called bradykinin helps open up blood vessel walls to other inflammatory molecules. Its inhibition is, thus, important to limit inflammation and corilagin does just that.
- Protects the stomach: Along with other compounds like rutin, gallocatechin, and p-cymene, corilagin also prevents the corrosion of the stomach lining by inhibiting the bacteria (H. pylori) responsible for damage.
3. Stabilizes Blood Glucose
Your blood glucose level fluctuates across a day depending on what you eat and what you do. Your body has a system in place to bring the glucose level back to normal. Bhumiamalaki helps with that, even keeping the glucose level from spiking after a meal. Here’s how.
- Inhibits intestinal glucose absorption: The tannins inhibit enzymes that break down complex carbs into glucose. These include α-amylase and α-glucosidase. With less glucose to be absorbed by the intestines, less of it enters your bloodstream.
- Enhances glucose storage: Bhumiamalaki also encourages cells to take up glucose from the blood. While doing so, it may mimic insulin or even nudge the pancreas to produce more insulin.
4. Helps Manage Cholesterol
Every cell in your body and a lot of daily functions need cholesterol. However, the right balance between different types of cholesterol is crucial. Bhumiamalaki could help your body strike this balance effectively.
- Increases good cholesterol: Bhumiamalaki activates LCAT (lecithin: cholesterol acyltransferase), an enzyme that hitches a ride on cholesterol casings called lipoproteins and circulates in the blood. It helps trap free floating cholesterol. Having a preference for the HDL type of lipoprotein, it increases HDL cholesterol – the good kind of cholesterol.
- Reduces total cholesterol: The herb’s flavonoids reduce the reabsorption of bile acids (end products of cholesterol metabolism) and cholesterol in the gut.
To make the most of this undervalued ayurvedic treasure, try having bhumiamalaki on a regular basis. A practical way to do that is by drinking bhumiamalaki tea. All you have to do is dunk about 5 gm (1 teaspoon) of the powdered leaves in about 3 cups of boiling water. Don’t drink it all at once but ration it out over the day.
Alternatively, have the powdered leaves alone, about 500 mg a day.