The Marvellous Properties of Amla – Indian Gooseberry
Amla was discovered early on and was given a central role in Ayurvedic healing, which remains undisputed to date. It is said to nourish mind, body and spirit.
Since times immemorial, Amla (Emblica Officinalis or Phyllanthus Emblica) – also known as ‘Indian Gooseberry’ in English – has been considered a powerful healer across the Indian subcontinent. In Sanskrit, it is sometimes called ‘Amalaki’ which translates to ‘The Sustainer’.
This sour tasting fruit grows throughout India, which means it is affordable and easy to find. It is round, sized like a small lemon and usually of a pale green tone. Its unique medicinal properties make it – and its leaves – a very popular fruit.
The sacred tree
In Indian mythology, it is said Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, resides within Amla. In fact, many worship Amla leaves in a similar way to Tulsi, hoping to get blessed with abundance and prosperity.
Ayurveda and Amla
India’s vast and fertile earth with varying geographical and geological conditions has made it home to a vast array of precious herbs; it is no coincidence that Ayurvedic medicine was born in such a place.
Ancient sages developed the science of Ayurveda with the aim of mitigating human suffering by using different quantities and concoctions of all they had available during those times – herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables and certain dairy products. Amla was discovered early on and was given a central role in Ayurvedic healing, which remains undisputed to date. It is said to nourish mind, body and spirit.
The nourishing properties of Amla
1. Amla is extremely rich in Vitamin C
It has the highest concentration of Vitamin C in any fruit, roughly twenty times more than that of an orange. It is stabilized by the presence of tannins, which help to maintain the presence of Vitamin C within Amla, even when it is processed. Due to its high concentration of Vitamin C, Amla is one of the three fruits used in the Triphala formula – a popular ayurvedic health tonic – the other two being Haritaki and Bibhitaki. Amla is also the main ingredient in Chyawanprash – a highly nutritive jam, which is considered a potent rejuvenator.
Due to the presence of a high amount of Vitamin C, Amla is one of the three fruits found in Triphala – literally translates to three fruits (Amla, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki). Amla is also found as the main ingredient in an Ayurvedic nutritive jam named Chyavanprash, which is considered a great rejuvenator.
2. Amla is highly nutritive
This fibrous food is also rich in Vitamin A, folic acid, and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and carotene. It is also rich in antioxidants.
The benefits of Amla
Amla’s main benefits stem for the presence of antioxidants:
1. Amla aids in Digestion
Amla’s fibre acts like a laxative, which helps regulate the bowels, helping curb constipation. It improves the appetite and kindles the ‘digestive fire’, thus stimulating healthy digestion.
Amla reduces excessive pitta from the digestive tract, which is then excreted through the bowels. It also helps with cases of diarrhoea due to its levels of soluble fibre.
1. Amla reduces circulatory and heart-related diseases
Amla increases blood circulation and strengthens the circulatory system. It reduces the build-up of cholesterol, thus further reducing chances of strokes and other heart related diseases. Its quantity of iron encourages the formation of red blood cells.
2. Amla controls Blood Sugar Levels
Amla promotes the build-up of Ojas, the subtle essence responsible for life, immunity and wellbeing within us, which directly regulates blood sugar levels.
Chromium in Amla helps reduce blood sugar in diabetic patients. Since Amla is over 80% water, it has a high affinity towards the urinary tract. Amla thus increases the frequency of urination which may aid in removing toxins from the body whilst keeping the kidneys healthy. A balance in urinary excretion and blood sugar level is what makes Amla a wholesome fruit for diabetic patients.
3. Amla boosts Immunity
High quantities of vitamins A and C in Amla make it a natural immunity booster. Its consumption increases white blood cells, which defend our immune system and eliminate foreign toxins from the body. It also promotes youthfulness, increases metabolism and memory, and promotes a healthy mind and body.
4. Amla improves Eyesight
Vitamin A in Amla improves eyesight. It helps in improving cataracts and near-sightedness due to the presence of carotene in it. Drinking Amla juice everyday helps reduce muscular degeneration and night blindness. It is a tonic for the cardiovascular system.
5. Amla balances the Doshas
Amla balances the Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, making it a powerful fruit for strengthening the body and promoting healing and immunity.
6. Other indirect benefits of Amla
It is said Amla also encourages hair growth, lowers skin problems, boosts liver health, has anti-cancer properties, and cures menstruation disorders.
Ways to consume Amla:
1. Eat raw Amla to avail the maximum benefits.
2. Dry Amla fruit and grind it into a fine powder. Take one teaspoon of this powder every day with lukewarm water. This helps reduce gastrointestinal problems.
3. Take one teaspoon of Triphala with lukewarm water at night. It is a very effective detoxifier and promoter of digestive health.
4. Having one spoonful of Chyavanprash daily with or without milk clears the respiratory tract. It also helps eliminate toxins from the body. This nutritive jam is a great immunity booster and promotes the overall strength of the body.
5. Taking two teaspoons of Amla juice with a glass of water at room temperature provides relief from the scorching heat in summers.
6. Mixing Amla powder with water to form a paste and applying it to the face helps recover from skin burns.
7. Massaging Amla oil into the scalp promotes the growth of healthy and lustrous hair. It is said, washing hair with amla water at least once a week, helps delay hair whitening.
Amla is greatly beneficial to the mind and body, however in adequate quantities. If there is increased Vata or Kapha in the body, consuming high doses of Amla in any form may be detrimental. Care should also be taken with the enamel of the teeth, as its citric acid can greatly damage the teeth, therefore it is best to always wash down with a glass of water and brush once teeth whenever possible after its ingestion.