The binomial name of Amla is Phyllanthus emblica. Also, known as ‘Amalaki’ in Sanskrit, Amla belongs to the family Phyllanthaceae, and is planted extensively throughout the tropical regions of India. Amla is a medium sized deciduous tree with a crooked trunk. When fully grown, it reaches to a height of 8 to 18 meters with 6 vertical furrow stripes. The flowers are greenish yellow and the fruits are hard on the surface, light greenish-yellow and almost spherical.
Amla trees can adapt to dry regions. It is best harvested in February as the fruits contain maximum amount of Ascorbic Acid elements during this time. Amalaki trees will start bearing its first fruit from the 5th year after plantation. A matured, 10 year old Amla tree, can produce 50 to 70 kilograms of fruit. Other names of Amla are Emblic myrobalan, Embilica officinalis, Malacca tree, Aonla, Amla Berry, Dhatriphala etc.
Ayurvedic properties of Amla according to Ayurveda –
Rasa: Amla (sour), Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (pungent).
Guna: Laghu (Light) and Ruksha (dry)
Virya: Shital (Cooling)
Vipaka: Madhura (Sweet)
Medicinal properties of Amla:
Amla can be eaten raw or can be prepared as pickles, juice, oils, murabba, lentil dishes, chyavanaprash and powders. Amalaki is a rich source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, dietary fibers and phenols. Amla is best known for fighting against free radicals and preventing anti-aging and boosting immunity power.
Approx. 600mg of Vitamin C is present in 100 grams of Amla fruit pulp. In addition to that, it contains moderate amount of nicotinic acid, amino acids, iron (1.2 mg/100g), phosphorous, fatty acids, flavonoids, fiber and carbohydrate.
According to a recent study, it has been identified that Amla extracts contain anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, radical scavenging, immunomodulatory properties which contain cancer-preventive and anti-tumor molecules. Amla extracts contain phytochemicals (gallic acid, ellagic acid, pyrogallol, geraniin and elaeocarpus) which are highly effective in preventing cancer and possesses radio-modulatory and chemo-preventive effects. Amla is used as a treatment of fever, stomachache, liver disease, hair tonic, respiratory disease, laxatives, diabetes, antipyretic, antianemia, gastroprotective, wound healing, cardioprotective, antidiarrheal, dyspepsia and peptic ulcer.
Anti-aging and Antioxidant properties
Amla is exceptionally rich in Vitamin C, which is also known as Ascorbic Acid, which is extremely essential for the formation of Collagen, prevention of Scurvy, building a strong immune system, maintenance of bone cartilage, and growth and repair of cells and tissues. Vitamin C is particularly vital for prevention of aging. Amla extracts are high in flavonoids, phenols, and tannins, known for their antioxidant effects on lowering oxidative stresses by fighting free radical agents in the body. The nutrients in Amalaki does not get easily destroyed due to the presence of tannins.
Nutrient absorption properties
Regular consumption of Amla strengthens the digestive tract. When taken along with food, it tastes bitter and thus, helps in slowly increasing the digestive fire (Agni). Hence, it effectively balances pitta and improves absorption of iron in the blood. Amalaki is extremely beneficial for individuals suffering from anaemia. Healthy absorption of iron in the blood produces normal range of red blood cells providing good energy level and high immunity.
Properties for maintaining good skin
Daily consumption of Amla helps in liver detoxification and removing waste from urinary tract, which in turn, purifies the blood, providing a radiant glow to the skin. Rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and amino acids, Amla juice effectively helps in proper blood circulation in the body. Regular intake of Amla juice prevents acne, pigmentation, fine line, wrinkles and dark spots.
Although, it balances all three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha, Amla possesses a cooling nature, which is helpful in pacifying pitta dosha. Thus, Amalaki helps in reducing skin rashes, inflammations, irritations, burning sensations, bitter taste in mouth, acid reflux, heartburn etc. Amla rejuvenates all body tissues and creates Ojas (or vigour) to support healthy immunomodulatory functions.
Nurtures healthy hair
Oil extracts from Amla has been a superfood for the hair since ancient times. Its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties relieve itchy and dry scalp, and also prevents dandruff formation by maintaining normal pH levels of the scalp. Amla hair oil or Amla juice extracts contain essential amino acids which penetrates the hair follicles to promote hair growth, to prevent hair fall and premature greying of hair. One Amla fruit contains 80% of moisture which is highly beneficial to provide moisture for dry, dull and damaged hair. Simply, consuming Amla juice everyday can work as a miraculous hair tonic to have strong, beautiful and lustrous hair. Vitamin C is also very much effective in promoting absorption of calcium in the blood which helps in healthy growth of hair, nails, teeth, bones and hair.
Healthy nervous system
High concentration of Vitamin C in Amalaki helps in producing a neuro-transmitter named Norepinephrine, which is believed to improve brain functions for patients having Dementia. Due to its distinctive cooling property, it helps in balancing emotional stability, improving memory, sharpening intellectual activities and aiding in better cognitive functioning. As per Ayurveda, Amla enhances acquisition (dhi), retention (dhriti) and memory (smriti). This is why, Amla juice is a very essential brain tonic for healthy nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, Amla is a well-known rasayana herb, which is considered as a natural rebuilder of oral health. Amla helps in developing and healing connective tissues. Amla decoction works well as an effective mouth rinse which prevents mouth ulcers and scurvy. High source of Vitamin C in Amla kills harmful cavity causing bacteria and periodontal microbes and regulates stronger gum health.
Nature has given us solutions for all our mental and physical ailments for absolutely free of cost. Amla is an extraordinary Ayurvedic superfood, easily available in the market and fully packed with vitamins and minerals which is a food as well as medicine. Amalaki is used to make the most sought powerful rasayana called ‘Triphala’ (Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki) which is known as powerhouse of antioxidants and immune boosters. Include Amalaki in your list of super healthy foods for optimal health and vitality.
Goraya, R. K., & Bajwa, U. (2015). Enhancing the functional properties and nutritional quality of ice cream with processed amla (Indian gooseberry). Journal of food science and technology, 52(12), 7861–7871. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-015-1877-1
Lad, V., & Frawley, D. (2001). The Yoga Of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Lanham: Lotus Press
Lad, V. (2012). Textbook of Ayurveda: Volume three. Albuquerque, N.M: Ayurvedic Press