Origin: Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), also titled as Indian gooseberry is a native to Southeast Asia where it has resided for eons. Sanskrit texts and Indian folklores have mentioned the fruit all over history.
In the 6th century, Sushruta, a physician in ancient India known today as the “Father of Indian Medicine” wrote of Amla’s rejuvenating health benefits.
As per Hindu mythology, Amla originated from the droplet of Amrit (the nectar of immortality) that spilled on earth following a battle between Gods and Demons.
Hindu mythology also states that Lord Vishnu resides on the Amla tree. Thus, the tree is worshiped on Amalakia Ekadashi. This makes people believe that Amla can cure any disease and extend life. In the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition, half Amla was gifted to Buddhist sangha by the Indian Emperor Ashoka.
Avvayar, a Tamil poet claimed that a celestial Amla was given to Prince Adhiyaman to promote longevity so the prince can continue doing the good deeds.
Scientifically: A significant amount of scientific research has been conducted on Amla evaluating its results. Studies signal to de facto Amla has the ability to foster appropriate glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and its immunomodulatory and antioxidant effects.
Amla or Indian gooseberry is rich in vitamins C and A, polyphenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol that boost immunity. Amla has the highest concentration of vitamin C that is twenty times more than that of orange.
Gooseberry contains chromium, which has a therapeutic value for the diabetic patient. Amla adds bulk to stool and keeps the bowel movement regular as it is high on fibers. It also has very high water content and is also diuretic in nature making it good for better urination.
Vitamin A present in Amla is good for improving eyesight. Amla also fights the heavy metals and re-energize the livers health. One study highlights that Amla extract has cytotoxic activity against cervical and ovarian cancer cells. It also helps the body absorb calcium positively.
Amla is rich in minerals such as iron, phosphorous and calcium. It is piped with antioxidants meaning a glass of Amla juice will keep away the aging process.
In Ayurvedic medicine, all parts of this plant are used including fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark, and flowers. It is wonderful to balance all three doshas. Kapha gets balanced by its drying action, while Pitta has reduced courtesy of its cooling energy. It promotes longevity as it improves digestion, purifies the blood, strengthens heart, circulates hair growth and enhances intellect. Amla wonderfully rejuvenates all body tissues and builds ojas (the essence of immunity and youthfulness).
Ayurveda believes that the combination of Amla and honey helps preserve eyesight. It is believed that it reduces intraocular tension. Dry Amla helps to address anxiety. Ayurvedic hair oils and shampoos contain dried Amla. Amla oil is known as a hair tonic as it enriches hair growth, promotes luster and hair darkening.
In Homeopathy system of medicine, it is used as “Mother Tincture” and is recommended in dyspepsia, burning sensation and pain from indigestion.
In the Unani System of Medicine, it is titled “Amalaz” and is considered the best remedy for lack of digestion.
Today, this sacred fruit is also prized for its high levels of antioxidants and tannins, which eliminate free-radical induced damage of the skin.
Amla consumption is excellent for metabolic activity. Amla has mineral and vitamins that are effective against menstrual cramp in women. According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Amla has strong cooling and laxative properties. Amla powder is a useful component in remedies for diarrhea and dysentery.
The wonder packed Amla strengthens digestion, aids in liver detoxification and is filled with vitamin C thus it is exceptional for the skin. It moisturizes, washes off toxins from tissues and pumps up skins immunity to fight the bacterial infection. At the same time, lending glow and luster to the skin. Amla promotes excellent calcium absorption thus creating healthier bones, teeth, nail, and hair.
Usage: In India, the fruit is commonly pickled with salt, oil, and spices. Amla fruit is often eaten raw or cooked into different dishes. “Amla ka murabba” a sweet dish made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is popularly used in inks, shampoos and hair oils. The high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit serves as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics.
It is used in natural skin and hair care cosmetics.
Below are some DIY masks with amla:
- Mix 1/2 cup of Amla powder with water. Apply it on your hair and scalp. Massage gently for 10 minutes. Wash it off after 20 minutes to get shiny and strong hair.
- Take two tablespoons amla powder or grated fresh amla, one tablespoon yogurt and one teaspoon honey, and mix all the ingredients well. Apply this mixture on your face and neck and let it dry for 20 minutes. Rinse later.
- Take two tablespoons of fresh amla juice, mix it with one tablespoon of mashed papaya. Apply this mask on the face and body. Let it dry for 15 minutes and then rinse. This helps in reducing any pigmentation on the skin.
- Take half a cup of freshly grated amla or dry amla powder, add a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of rose water. Mix these ingredients well and apply on the face and body. This mask works as an excellent nourishing scrub.
- Take half a cup of fresh amla juice and mix two tablespoons of lemon juice to it. Apply it on your hair and scalp and leave it for 20-30 minutes, then rinse.