Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is considered as dhatri which means motherly figure. Thanks to its amazing healing properties and other health benefits, amla has been worshiped in Indian culture since ages and is now also being recognised as a super food across the world. Ayurveda, which is the oldest health system in the world, appreciates and uses the amla to treat a host of diseases and promote positive health.
Amla [Emblica officinalis, or emblic myrobalan], is called amalaki in Sanskrit. It is extensively used as a rejuvenator in Ayurveda. It is also used widely in combination with other two [chebulic and belleric] myrobalans or fruit-bearing plant species as triphala. Amla is the key ingredient in the popular Ayurvedic recipe, Chyavanaprasha. More than anything, the Indian Gooseberry may be called as “King of Rasayana” [rejuvenation], owing to its multiple health benefits.
Amla or Indian gooseberry in Ayurveda
Ayurveda describes Amla as a cooling, astringent, digestive, laxative, stomachic, and aphrodisiac medicine. It also has anti-pyretic (fever reducing), anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Due to its numerous therapeutic effects on various organs and systems, research has found it to be useful in problems ranging from chest diseases such as cough, asthma, and bronchitis, digestive ailments like dyspepsia, hyperacidity and ulcers and anaemia, jaundice, diabetes, bleeding conditions, eye diseases, allergies and other skin problems, and gynaecological problems.
The amazing health benefits of amla
Let’s look at the amazing health benefits of amla that make it a super food.
1. Amla aids digestion
Indian gooseberry strengthens absorption and assimilation of food. It improves digestion and stimulates our taste buds to relish food better. It can be used by everyone without fear of gastric irritation, or increased acidity. You can also also use it to ease “too much heat” in the body. It aids in better absorption and assimilation of iron from the gut. It also acts as a laxative in large doses due to its high fiber content.
Amla is best used as an ingredient in our diet regularly. It can be used as an alternative to tamarind, lemon or such other fruits to add flavour to food. Amla can be used as dry powder, fresh juice; or for dressing, by grating it coarse, or fine. It can also be used to prepare chutneys [paste] to be used as an adjuvant in our meals. It can be preserved for a long time in sugar syrup or as pickle and used regularly.
2. Amla is an excellent source of Vitamin C
One of the many nutritional benefits of amla is its rich natural Vitamin C content. It contains 20 times more vitamin C than an orange. Even when it is dried, or baked, it contains tannins, which prevent loss of vitamin C. Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant, fights free radicals, which cause many chronic and grave diseases like arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and so on. Vitamin C is also required for our body’s natural defences and healing mechanisms.
3. Amla for anti-ageing
Amla boosts absorption of calcium. Thus, it helps in the formation, maintenance, and repair of bones, teeth, nails and hair. It also helps maintain youthful hair colour and retards premature greying. In addition, it supports the strength of the hair follicles. This translates to less thinning of hair with age.
4. Amla enhances protein synthesis
The Indian gooseberry enhances protein synthesis by means of which bodily tissues, especially the muscles, are strengthened and toned up. It is, therefore, very useful to athletes and those who exercise regularly for maintaining muscular health and eliminating toxic products, the result of muscle activity.
5. Indian gooseberry reduces bad cholesterol
Amla is useful in reducing LDL [“bad”] cholesterol and thus preventing arterial blockages that may cause heart attack or stroke. In one study, treatment with amla produced significant reduction of LDL, triglyceride and VLDL; it also helped increase in HDL levels.
6. It eases chest congestion
When it is consumed in its natural form, as raw fruit or dry powder, amla can reduce chest congestion and facilitate the removal of sputum from the respiratory tract. It can soothe and heal inflamed airways and thus, is useful in cough, bronchitis, and other problems of the respiratory system.
7. Amla is excellent brain and nerve tonic
Amla is also known to act as a very good brain and nerve tonic. It improves memory, tolerance, and nervous function.
8. It improves immunity
Exposure to chemicals and consumption of chemically-treated food or drinks results in the accumulation of toxins in body tissues. This affects the functioning of the liver. One of the important benefits of Amla is that it helps in elimination of toxins and strengthens the liver in the process. Regular consumption of amla results in an efficient defence system in the body against harmful substances.
9. It can be used as a diuretic
The fresh juice of Indian gooseberry acts as a diuretic; it also normalises acidic urine. It is helpful in burning urination and urinary infections.
10. Amla may prevent cancer and is also beneficial during chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Consuming amla may aid treatment and prevention of cancer. This is perhaps among the most critical benefits of amla. Due to its adaptogenic [balancing effect on your body’s systems] and rejuvenating properties, the Indian gooseberry is known to be beneficial during the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
How to use amla for 7 common ailments
1. Dry Cough
Take half tsp amla powder mixed with a little ghee [liquefy the ghee]. Take frequently.
Take wild amla juice, or amla powder, with cream top of yoghurt, twice a day.
3. White vaginal discharge [leucorrhoea]
Take 1gm amla powder with one tsp honey and one tsp crystal sugar mixed together, thrice a day.
4. Internal bleeding [Rakta Pitta]
Wild amla 1gm, with 1tsp honey, thrice a day.
Wild amla powder with black pepper. 1gm amla powder, with 3-4 pinches of pepper.
6. Slow and burning urination
Amla juice, half cup [approx 30ml], twice a day. This should be supplemented with extra fluid intake and/or liquid diet.
Amla and turmeric, as juice or powder, twice a day, before food; use two tsp each for juice and half tsp each for powder.
Despite its supreme safety and therapeutic value, I recommend that you consult an expert in Ayurveda or herbal medicine for a more specific and individualised prescription to suit your needs—especially if you have medical, or surgical, concerns.
How to add Amla to your diet
In India, amla is available at most local fruit sellers during its season from October to January. You can buy fresh fruits and make a murabba [sugar syrup preparation] with grated or whole fruits. You could also make a pickle that is tangy and spicy. In case you prefer a drink, you can choose Amlana, which is a cool appetizer, or an amla-ginger punch.
You can easily find ready-to-eat packaged Amla in a number of stores. Normally, these are local brands. Amla is available in different form: dehydrated, powder, tablet, packaged juice, pickles, chutney or candy; any of these are a good bet for trial.
You could even start off on Triphala or Chyawanprash both of which contain amla as a major ingredient.
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