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Amla is a well-known household name and one of the oldest ayurvedic remedies in India. There will not be a person in this country who is not familiar with these shiny green berries that also go by the name of Indian gooseberry and are used globally.

If you are a follower of herbalism or a lover of home remedies you might have already been benefited from at least one of its beneficial attributes such as healing. It’s hard to avoid such antibiotic and nutritive goodness when it's available so handy at hand. Ayurvedic doctors claim that it is the richest source of antioxidants and nutrition. In fact, the name Amalaki means “mother” and “to sustain” which refers to its healing and nurturing properties.

Two of the most important ayurvedic texts  Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita named it as a rejuvenating herb. Not only this, this fruit has a special place in Indian mythology wherein it is called as Lord Vishnu's tears and holds equal importance in Vaishnavite traditions as the rudraksha in Shaivite traditions. Amla tree and fruit is thus worshipped in India. For many older traditions and reasons are superstitions but looking at the benefits and good qualities of amla I am compelled to think again.

Some basic facts about amla:

  • Botanical name: Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica officinalis
  • Family: Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae
  • Common name: Indian gooseberry, Amla
  • Sanskrit name: Dhatri, amalaka, amalaki
  • Parts used: Fruit (both fresh and dried), seeds, bark, leaves, flowers.
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Amla is a native to India but it is also grown in China and Malaysia.
  • Energetics: Amla is believed to balance all three doshas in the body namely kapha, pitta and vata. But, ayurvedic doctors claim that it has a definite cooling action, a feeling of lightness in the stomach when consumed and dry effect on the body.
  1. Nutritional qualities of Amla
  2. Health benefits of Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
  3. How to use Amla
  4. Amla dosage
  5. Amla side effects
  • Amla is a very good source of vitamin C, in fact, it is one of the highest natural sources of this vitamin and the best part is, that the tannins (a kind of natural compound) in amla keep all its vitamin C stable even after cooking or processing the fruit.
  • The amla fruit is a rich source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and Iron which help in maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
  • The carotene and vitamin A present in amla is extremely beneficial for eyesight and hair growth.
  • It also contains vitamin E which has anti-aging and antioxidant qualities and vitamin B complex which is essential in various functions of the body.
  • The high fiber content of amla makes it very an excellent agent for the proper functioning and well being of our gastrointestinal tract.

Amla is known as one of the best plant sources of antioxidants and its detoxifying properties make it a perfect liver tonic. Regular consumption of amla in any form doesn’t only remove all the toxins from the body but its rejuvenating and nutritive properties helps strengthen a lot of body organs, including the formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin by spleen, strengthening of the heart and the immune system. But that is not all. There are a lot of minerals and vitamins present in amla which makes it very potent for the overall healthy functioning of the body. Let's explore some of the health benefits of amla.

  • Rich source of vitamin C: Amla is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Since our body can't make this vitamin, it is important to obtain it from an outside source. Adequate vitamin C protects the body from deficiency diseases such as scurvy which causes darkened and bleeding gums.
  • Improves eyesight: Amla contains vitamin A and beta carotenoids, both these nutrients are responsible for maintaining eye health and preserving vision. Vitamin C present in amla also assists in strengthening eye muscles and keeping age-related eye disorders at bay.
  • Promotes weight loss: Amla can be an excellent weight loss promoter. It improves digestion and elimination of toxic waste from your body, assuring a better metabolism. Amla fruit fibre keeps you from overeating and increases cholesterol elimination, melting fat stores in your body.
  • Regularises bowel movements: Amla has a good amount of fibre which bulks up food in intestines and helps regularise bowel movements. Also, its cooling effect on body alleviates the occasional burning sensation in stomach for people with warm body constituencies.
  • Boosts immunity: Did you know amla can improve your immunity? It contains ample amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants, which has been scientifically proven to be useful in stimulating various immune system cells. 
  • Purifies blood: Amla is a proven detoxifying agent. It removes impurities and excess free radicals from your blood while at the same time providing nourishment to your blood cells. Together, these properties increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood cells, leading to improved health.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels: Studies indicate that amla consumption reduces cholesterol accumulation in body and improves liver function, thereby preventing fatty liver disease. Also, it contains the mineral chromium which inhibits plaque deposition in arteries and reduces heart attack risk.
  • Defies ageing: Amla contains an arsenal of antioxidants to fight free radical damage, one of the primary causes of premature ageing. Regular consumption of amla juice is claimed to slow down ageing process and keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay.
  • Provides longer and shinier hair: Ayurvedic doctors suggest that amla and coconut oil mask nourishes your hair and prevent hair loss and amla antioxidants prevent premature hair greying. It has also been evidenced that 5 alpha reductase present in amla prevents hair fall and baldness in men.
  • Preserves bones and teeth: Amla has dual benefits for your bones. Research studies suggest that it provides calcium to your bones, which is essential for maintaining bone structure while at the same time preventing bone loss by inhibiting osteoclast function.
  • Soothes sore throat: Amla, when taken with ginger is traditionally used as a remedy for sore throat. It is believed that this is due to the immunostimulating and nourishing properties of this fruit, which helps fight infection and strengthen throat muscles. facilitating the expulsion of pathogen and quick recovery.
  1. Amla is a rich source of Vitamin C
  2. Amla improves eyesight
  3. Amla for weight loss
  4. Amla for regulating bowel movement
  5. Amla for immunity
  6. Amla for blood purification
  7. Amla reduces cholesterol
  8. Amla for diabetes
  9. Amla for anti-aging
  10. Amla for hair
  11. Amla for bones and teeth
  12. Amla for sore throat

Amla is a rich source of Vitamin C

Amla is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin C, In fact, it is said to contain 20-30 times more Vitamin C than oranges. Given that the human body does not produce its own Vitamin C, a dietary supplement is essential to replenish the need of this vitamin in the body. Scurvy, a condition associated with the deficiency of vitamin C in the body and characterized by dark and bleeding gums can thus be alleviated by a regular consumption of amla.

Amla improves eyesight

Are you tired of your blurry vision and heavy reading glasses? Are your friends recommending you contact lenses and lasers scare you a bit? Amla is known to be a good source of carotenoids and Vitamin A which are two of the very important factors responsible for a good eyesight. Additionally, the vitamin C in amla has a stimulatory effect on the retinal cells present in our eyes. Therefore, it would not come as a surprise that amla is one of the top remedies suggested by ayurvedic doctors for treating bad eyesight and avoiding eye problems. Drinking amla juice twice a day is known to have a beneficial effect in improving the eyesight.

Amla for weight loss

One of the most common reasons for weight gain is the improper functioning of the digestive system. Whether it’s the inability to expel the extra food or not being able to absorb enough nutrients, anything can lead to accumulation of unnecessary weight in the body. There are a lot of ways in which amla can help you in losing this extra weight and feeling lighter and uncongested. First, it is a diuretic that means it helps you eliminate excess water and salts from the body which comprises a big part of the extra weight. Then, amla is a rich source of fiber which makes you feel full and eat less. Thereby, reducing the amount of overall food intake and increasing the time between meals. Finally, it helps your stomach to digest food easily and transfer of more nutrients to the blood, hence providing more nutrition to your body for its day to day functions. So, what are you waiting for? Add this fruit to your diet and get rid of all the extra weight without much fuss.

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Amla for regulating bowel movement

The fiber content in amla gives bulk to the food. When taken with enough amount of water it helps make the stools soft and regulate the bowel movement. Furthermore, amla has an inherent cooling property, so it gives you relief from the occasional burning sensation in the stomach. This is especially good for people with an otherwise warm body constituency.

Amla for immunity

The antioxidant properties of amla make it a very good immunomodulator (improving immune system functions). Regular consumption of amla increases the number of white blood cells in the body (responsible for killing the bacteria that enter the body) and leads to a faster and more effective immune response.

(Read more: How to improve immunity)

Amla for blood purification

Blood is the basic medium for transferring and circulating anything in the body. It is responsible to provide oxygen and nutrition to the body organs and helping in the elimination of the toxins from the body. Factors like lifestyle, medications, and food habits have a strong effect on maintaining the purity of our blood and a lot of junk food, stress or diseases like diabetes might have a detrimental effect of blood purity. All of these problems would slow down the inherent cleaning process of the blood, leaving it full of toxins and creating conditions like acne, skin blemishes or premature aging. Large amount of toxins in blood can also interfere with the normal functions of all the organs of the body, thus making you more prone to infections. Amla is an excellent detoxifier which means that it is a very good agent for cleaning away the impurities present in the blood. As a diuretic, it helps clean away all the extra salts from the body and keep the blood cleaner. Additionally, its nourishing effects lead to an increase in the amount of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells and hemoglobin levels which is good for a better circulation of oxygen throughout the body. As you may already know, a good amount of oxygen in blood equals lesser impurities in the body.

Amla reduces cholesterol

Studies have shown that intake of raw amla or amla powder has a strong inhibitory effect on the cholesterol levels of the body. In another related study, it was claimed that a reduced cholesterol level in the body would lead to lower stress on the liver and less chances of fatty liver disease in nonalcoholics. The chromium present in amla also helps in removing plaque (fat deposits) in the arteries, thus avoiding the risk of heart attack due to arterial blockage.

(Read more: High cholesterol treatment)

Amla for diabetes

Regular consumption of amla juice is said to stimulate the insulin-producing cells in the body to produce more of insulin. This hormone, in turn, takes up the glucose from the blood and stores it in the liver, leading to an overall reduction in the blood sugar levels. A recent research to study the effects of daily consumption of amla powder found out that it was as good as reducing the blood sugar levels in diabetes patients and it is as one of the most common anti-diabetic medicine.

Amla for anti-aging

In this world, who does not want to age gracefully. Looking young forever is probably in everybody’s bucket list. Wouldn’t it be convenient if a younger looking skin was as easy to achieve as it is to dream about? Free radical damage is the biggest reason of most of the aging processes that occur in our body and unfortunately, it can’t be stopped because it happens as a result of the common metabolic functions of the body. The day to day stress and modern lifestyle not only adds to this problem but worsens it to a level that is almost impossible to deal with. The only way to combat the free radicals is a good dose of antioxidants and the good news is that it’s right at hand. Amla, as a nutritive and antioxidant fruit not only reduce the antioxidant damage but it also rejuvenates the skin and nourishes it with the vitamins and nutrients present in it, thereby, making it look more healthy and young.

Amla for hair

Amla has been in use amongst the people of India for longer than anyone can remember. The benefits of amla in getting more pigmented and shinier hair isn’t hidden from the majority of masses. Ayurvedic doctors suggest a mixture of amla and coconut oil for hair fall.

Regular consumption of amla or a topical use of amla oil is known to nourish the hair follicles thereby promoting the growth of healthier and shinier hairs while its antioxidant properties help in removing the signs of hair damage and stop hair fall. Amla oil is a proven remedy for baldness in men. A recent study claims that amla oil is a potent inhibitor of 5 alpha reductase which is one of the major reasons for hair fall in men.

Amla for bones and teeth

Amla is known to have an inhibitory effect of osteoclasts, they are the cells responsible for degrading the bones in our body. Consumption of amla juice or powder is believed to slow down the action of these cells. Thus, the bones remain stronger for a long period of time. Additionally, amla increases the calcium absorption in body and calcium is the mineral which provides more density and strength to both our bones and teeth. So, including amla in your diet would not only stop the age-related break down of the bones but it also helps strengthen them.

Amla for sore throat

Amla is a sour herb but amazingly ayurvedic doctors suggest consumption of amla juice in combination with ginger to treat sore throats. The Vitamin C present in amla is a very good antioxidant which improves the body’s ability to kill most of the germs responsible for a sore throat. While its nourishing qualities help strengthen the muscles of throat.

Amla tree bears fruits in the autumn. The unripe berries are greenish yellow which on ripening turn to a distinct brownish-gold. The fruit can be consumed raw but the berries are sour in taste and not to the liking of everybody’s taste buds. Fortunately, a variety of amla products are commercially available in the market, but you are highly recommended to check for the quality of any product that you buy as some of them have a high amount of added sugars and flavors which might do more harm than good. The most common forms that you can buy amla include fresh and dry fruit, amla murabba, candies, powder, tablets and capsules, amla juice, chutney, jam, and oils. It is also one of the major components in Triphala and Chyawanprash (two of the very common ayurvedic preparations). However, if you have a knack for cooking and love natural home remedies, you can cook up some recipes from scratch at home. Isn't that perfect!

Let us look into three easy and beneficial ways to use amla :

  • Amla juice - 
    To make amla juice, separate the seeds from some gooseberries and grind them in a mixer to obtain a fine paste. Add some water (as per your taste and thickness required) to the mixer and grind again. Strain and put it in a jug. You can also add black pepper, ginger or cilantro for taste. Chefs suggest that fresh amla juice stays in the fridge for about a week without any added preservatives. But you are recommended to check for flavor or any slimy growth to confirm freshness. Sodium lactate a known preservative can be safely used to preserve the juice up to one month.
     
  • Amla chutney -
    Making amla chutney is very similar to making amla juice. After you remove seeds from the berries, put them into the grinder and add ginger, salt to taste and cilantro in it. Grind it to form a paste and put it into a jar. Cover it with some oil to keep it preserved and keep it in the fridge. Amla chutney lasts for about a month in the fridge.
     
  • Amla oil -
    Amla oil can be easily made at home by putting the whole amla in a container/jar full of coconut oil and then letting it sit in the sun for about a week. Put enough amla so it almost fills the jar while the oil fills it to the brim. Shake the jar after 4-5 days and check for any slimy or fungus growth. Wash and dry the jar before putting the oil in it. Similarly, the amla should be properly washed and dried to remove any dust or bacteria present on its surface. Both amla powder and dried amla can be used for making oil. After the desired time, you can strain the oil to separate amla or keep using the oil from the top. As long as the fruit is releasing its nutrients and oils the oil will keep strengthening.

Alternatively, you can mix amla juice in coconut oil and heat it at low for a few minutes to let the two liquids mix. Take it off the heat after a minute or so and apply it directly on the skin or scalp.

While amla fruit can be consumed raw, amla powder is the most common and easiest ways of taking amla. Generally, a dosage of one tbsp per day is suggested on an empty stomach. Some ayurvedic doctor recommend taking amla after every meal instead. It is said that taking amla after meals help digest the food better. Amla can be mixed in honey or taken with ginger to soothe a sore throat. Amla oil is very good for hair growth and to stop premature greying of hairs. Amla oil can be mixed in shikakai or almond oil to make it more beneficial for hairs.

However, the right dosage of amla varies depending on the age, sex and health conditions of the individual. The environmental factors also play a role in the dosage and consumption of this fruit. So, its preferable to consult an ayurveda doctor before taking amla as a remedy.

  • Consuming amla in high amounts can increase constipation in spite of helping with it and not consuming enough water would have even more adverse effects on the stomach health because a lack of water would make the fiber in amla to harden and choke the intestines.
  • It is not advisable to take amla if you already have a sensitivity to vitamin C rich foods.
  • If you normally have low blood glucose levels or are on prescribed medicine for diabetes it is better to check with your doctor before consuming amla in any form as it is a natural hypoglycemic (reduces blood sugar level) and can interfere with the action of the medicine.
  • Regular consumption of amla with less than normal water intake can affect your health adversely as amla is a natural diuretic which means it makes your body lose water rapidly. So, if you are adding amla in your diet it is preferable to keep your body well hydrated.
  • There is no evidence of the effects of amla on pregnant women so far. Thus, if you are pregnant, it is suggested to take doctors advice before taking amla in your daily routine.
  • The natural cooling effect of amla makes it unsuitable for consumption for people suffering from common cold.
और पढ़ें ...

References

  1. UAB Department of Anthropology [Internet] Amla Fruit in India
  2. Manayath Damodaran, Kesavapillai Ramakrishnan Nair. A tannin from the Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) with a protective action on ascorbic acid. Biochem J. 1936 Jun; 30(6): 1014–1020. PMID: 16746112
  3. Guy Drouin, Jean-Rémi Godin, Benoît Pagé. The Genetics of Vitamin C Loss in Vertebrates. Curr Genomics. 2011 Aug; 12(5): 371–378. PMID: 22294879
  4. Krishnaveni M1, Mirunalini S. Therapeutic potential of Phyllanthus emblica (amla): the ayurvedic wonder.. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2010;21(1):93-105. PMID: 20506691
  5. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Amla