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  • Amalaki: The Ancient Indian Fruit With Powerful Health Benefits

    Amalaki: The Ancient Indian Fruit With Powerful Health Benefits

    The Ayurveda Experience June 19, 2024

    In the heart of ancient Ayurvedic tradition lies a fruit that has long been revered as the "Divine Nectar" – Amalaki, also called Indian Gooseberry or Amla. With its origins deeply rooted in the majestic landscapes of India, amalaki is seen as a symbol of vitality, rejuvenation, and timeless beauty in Ayurveda. This unassuming berry, small in stature yet mighty in its healing prowess, holds a cherished place in the world of holistic health practices.
     
    But what sets Amalaki apart isn't just its historical significance; it's the tangible benefits it offers to those who seek a natural path to wellness. It's a potent fruit that nourishes not only the body but also the mind and spirit. Read along as we discuss and explore everything there is to know about amla in the never-ending world of Ayurvedic Wisdom! 

    1. Names:

    In English – Emblica myrobalan 

    In Hindi – Amla, Aonla 

    In Sanskrit – Amritaphala, Amritphala, amalaki, Dhatriphala

    2. Amalaki as defined in Ayurvedic texts (Shloka verses)

    Bhavaprakasha Nighantu - Shloka no. 38-41 

    Dhanvantri Nighantu (10th A.D.): Guduchyadi Varga 

    Raj Nighantu (17th A.D.): Amradi Varga 

    Kaiyadeva Nighantu (14th A.D.): Aushadhi Varga 

    Shodhala Nighantu (12th A.D.): Guduchyadi Varga 

    Madanpala Nighantu (14th A.D.): Abhayadi Varga 

    Bhavaprakasha Nighantu (16th A.D.): Haritakyadi Varga 

    3. How does the amalaki plant look like?  

    Amalaki, also prominently known as the Indian gooseberry, comes from the Phyllanthaceae family. With an average height of 8 to 18 meters, the amalaki tree is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree whose thin, light grey bark exfoliates in tiny, uneven flakes. The main stem measures 70 cm in girth, on average. Amalaki is spherical in shape and can be identified with a greenish-yellow color. It has a hard and smooth outer appearance with around six stripes running vertically. Amalaki is packed with antioxidants abundantly. It has a sour, bitter, and astringent taste and is commonly grown in tropical countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

    Ayurvedic benefits of amla

    4. Ayurvedic properties of amalaki

    With its tangy-sweet flavor and vibrant green hue, amalaki captivates the senses while nourishing the body and soul. But its importance extends far beyond its use as a fruit; in the world of Ayurveda, amalaki is hailed as a rasayana – a tonic for longevity and rejuvenation. Rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds, this humble fruit provides a myriad of health benefits that have transcended generations. 

    Rasa (taste) - Amalaki has an amla (sour) rasa (taste) with kashaya (astringent) predominant rasa, but has tikta (bitter), katu (pungent), madhura (sweet) taste adding to the flavor profile of amalaki.  

    Guna (qualities) - It possesses guru (heavy), ruksha (dry), sheeta (cold) qualities.  

    Vipaka (taste developed through digestion) - After the digestion of amalaki, the sour taste transforms into madhur (sweet) vipaka i.e. post-digestion taste is sweet. 

    5. Main actions as per Ayurveda

    Rasayana (rejuvenator) - Amalaki acts like a rejuvenator. It helps in nourishing and replenishing all tissues. It has been proven to provide longevity, and a stable life span1,8

    Pramehaghna (anti-diabetic) - Amalaki can help a diabetic patient. Research shows that ayurvedic formulation containing amalaki (Nisha Amalaki Churna) reduced fasting blood sugar levels and post prandial blood sugar levels significantly. Nisha amalaki churna is a combination of dried amla and turmeric in equal parts in the form of powder. Combination of nisha amalaki churna formulation has tridoshahara property (balancing all three doshas) but specially Kaphahara (Kapha-balancing) property2.  

    Jwaraghna (anti-pyretic) - Amalaki can be prescribed in cases of fever, especially in cases of typhoid, dengue fever and malaria. Additionally, it is widely used as a tonic, to help restore  the body’s lost energy and vigor. 

    Vrushya (libido enhancer) - Amalaki is one of the herbs, that is recommended by doctors in cases of male infertility. It acts by balancing the shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue) in the body4

    Dahahara (reduces burning sensation) - Amalaki can be used to relieve burning sensation, in skin diseases. Owing to its cold potency, Amalaki can help reduce the burning sensation.5 

    Shophaghna (anti-inflammatory) - Amalaki has proven to be an anti-inflammatory herb6

    Ruchya (boosts appetite) - Amalaki helps to boost the appetite7.  

    Chakshushya (good for the eyes) - Amalaki’s leaves can be incorporated as a treatment modality in conjunctivitis7

    6. What parts of amalaki can be used?

    Dried and fresh fruits of the plant are most widely used. Ayurvedic medicines make use of all the parts of the plant including fruits, seeds, leaves, roots, bark, and flowers. 

    The root bark of this plant is astringent and can be used to treat gastric ulcers and ulcerative colitis (Grahani roga) 7

    The stem bark of this plant is astringent in rasa (taste) and can be utilized in the treatment of the following diseases- diarrhea, jaundice, myalgia, and gonorrhea7.  

    The seeds of this herb can be used to treat asthma and bronchitis7.  

    7. Therapeutic and medicinal uses of amalaki

    Prameha (diabetes) 

    .....हरिद्रां पिबेद्रसेनामलकीफलानाम् (.चि. 6/26) 

    Fresh amalaki juice mixed with turmeric taken every day will help keep diabetes in check.  

    Jwara (fever) 

    रसमामलकानां वा घृत भृष्टं ज्वरापहम् (.चि. 3/230) 

    Juice extracted from amalaki fruit fried with ghee proves highly beneficial in treating fever.

    Pandu (anaemia) 

    धात्रीफलं वा मधुनाऽवलिह्यात् (सु.. 44/27) 

    Amalaki powder mixed with honey is effective in anemia. 

    Kamala (jaundice) 

    कामलार्तानां मृद्वीकामलकी रसः (.चि. 16/114) 

    The juice extracted from amalaki and grapes could potentially be beneficial in managing jaundice. 

    Raktapitta (bleeding disorder) 

    ...आमलकानि वा विरेचनं प्रयुञ्जीत प्रभूतमधुशर्करम्  

    रसः प्रशस्यते तेषां रक्तापित्ते विशेषतः (.चि. 4/57-58) 

    Amalaki churna mixed with a larger quantity of honey and sarkara (sugar) given as a virecaka (purgative) is very useful in bleeding disorders and issues. 

    Kasa (Cough) 

    चूर्णं पिबेदामलकस्य वापि क्षीरेण पक्वं सघृतं हिताशी (..चि. 3/78) 

    Amalaki powder boiled with milk and taken with ghee is very useful in cough. 

    Vatarakta (gouti arthritis) 

    आमलक हरिद्रा कषायं मधु मधुरं पाययेत् (सु.चि. 5/10) 

    Decoction of amalaki and turmeric are very useful in helping with gout. 

    8. Amalaki effects on three doshas

    Amalaki is tridosha shamak, which means that it enables the reduction and balancing of the three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Amalaki has the most effect on Pitta dosha.  

    Vata dosha: The amla (sour) taste of amalaki is responsible for alleviating the Vata dosha.  

    Pitta dosha: The madhur (sweet) post-digestive taste of amalaki is understood to be fairly powerful and effective at calming pitta dosha, and it is seen as the go-to remedy for those who want to calm down, promoting a cool, balanced internal state.  

    Kapha dosha: The Kashaya (astringent) and ruksha (dry) quality of amalaki is responsible for alleviating the Kapha dosha

    9. Precautions and side effects of amalaki

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women – There are not many conclusive studies suggesting the effects of amalaki on pregnant and breastfeeding women therefore it is advised to consume under the guidance of a medical professional. There are no other specific precautions one must take while consuming amalaki apart from excess consumption which might imbalance the doshas and have adverse effects.  

    Allergic reaction – Individuals who are allergic to amalaki should avoid its consumption. 

    10. Who Can Benefit from the Consumption of Amalaki?

    • Individuals who want to improve their hair health. 
    • Individuals with digestive disorders.
    • Individuals wanting relief from cough.
    • Individuals with fever. 

    11. What is the best way to consume amalaki?

      Amalaki can be consumed in its raw fresh form, which certainly delivers all its benefits. However, it possesses a strong, astringent, and sour taste that might be subjective to an individual's liking. For this reason, we have provided a few traditional recipes that you can try at home and reap its miraculous benefits! 

      Amla Recipes 

      Dried Amalaki candy recipe:

      Ingredients:  

      250 g amalaki 

      200 g sugar 

      50 g powdered sugar 

      Directions:  

      Wash and steam the amalaki for 10 to 15 minutes in a steamer.  

      Segregate them into small pieces and discard the seeds.  

      Place them in sugar syrup (made out of 200g sugar) for 2 days.  

      Strain any excess sugar and air-dry for a few days. 

      Once dried, coat with powdered sugar and enjoy! 

      Dried amalaki recipe:

      Ingredients:  

      250 gms amalaki 

      Black salt as per requirement  

      Indian masala mix as per requirement  

      Directions:  

      Wash and grate amalaki into pieces. 

      Let these pieces dry in the sun for a few days. 

      Once completely dried, coat with black salt and masala mix and enjoy! 

      Amla Pickle:

      Ingredients:  

      500g amla 

      1 cup mustard oil 

      Spices: fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder and asafoetida 

      Salt to taste 

      Directions: 

      Wash and dry amla and it cut into small pieces. 

      Add mustard oil and cook it on medium heat. 

      Add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and sauté for a few seconds. 

      Then add turmeric, chili powder, amla, salt, asafoetida.  
      Mix well then transfer to a glass jar. 

      Let it marinate for a week and then consume with meals.  

      References:  

      1. https://www.wjpmr.com/download/article/92012022/1643628173.pdf
      2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350946331_CLINICAL_STUDY_TO_EVALUATE_EFFICACY_OF_NISHA_AMALAKI_CHURNA_IN_NEWLY_DIAGNOSED_PRAMEHA_TYPE_II_DIABETES_MELLITUS
      3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337223137_Medicinal_Uses_of_Amalaki_Indian_Gooseberry_A_Historical_Review
      4. https://ayushdhara.in/index.php/ayushdhara/article/view/453
      5. https://jaims.in/jaims/article/download/2592/3726/
      6. https://wjpr.net/abstract_show/3755
      7. https://ijsrm.humanjournals.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/35.Santosh-Pal-A-Ramamurthy-Bidhan-Mahajon.pdf
      8. https://globalresearchonline.net/journalcontents/v24-2/25.pdf 

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