Live long and prosper with Ayurvedic longevity herb Amalaki
English Name: Indian Gooseberry
Sanskrit/Hindu Name: Amalaki/ Amrta/
Botanical name: Emblica Officinale/
Translating from sanskrit as the word 'sour' (due to its potent tartness) Amla is much revered herb in Ayurveda and considered a panacea (cure-all). Possessing 5 of the 6 tastes, Amla is extremely cooling, sweet and nourishing. Amla balances all 3 dosha (especially pitta) and gives cooling, nutritive support to the digestive system, the respiratory system and the eyes, hair, skin and nails.
Indian Gooseberry has been used in Ayurveda and other Asian medicines for thousands of years and most popularly known as an ingredient in Triphala (3 fruits) which is used to cleanse the digestive system of excess dosha and ama, support bowel movement, reduce excess heat in the body, nourish the eyes and skin and reduce blood glucose. Amla is believed to contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of any food in the plant kingdom, boasting up to 20 times that of an orange.
As a powerful antioxidant, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is crucial to healthy functioning of the nervous system and immune system and an important consideration in every healthy diet. Why not add Amla to your food/supplement shopping list?
Benefits according to research
According to Healthline, Amalaki is argued to be:
1) Highly nutritious i.e low in calories and fat yet packed with nutrients such as Vitamin C, B5 and B6 (needed for energy metabolism and creation of fatty acids) copper, manganese and potassium.
2) High in fibre and good for weight loss, helping to protect the body against obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
3) Rich in antioxidants, supporting the body's ability to fight free-radicals that cause oxidative stress/premature ageing and increased risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and brain degeneration.
4) Useful in controlling blood sugar which is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and many other illnesses.
6) Provide protection for the brain by blocking excess iron from entering the brain and causing oxidative stress, this reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and stroke.
7) Have potential anticancer properties: Amla is a rich source of antioxidants, folate, phenolic compounds, vitamin C and vitamin E which counteract the damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation that can lead to certain types of cancer.
8) Good for the heart: Amla prevents bad cholesterol (LDL) formation supporting healthy blood pressure and vitality of the heart.
9) Easy to add to the diet as they can be enjoyed raw, as a chutney or jam, or drunk as a cordial
The therapeutic benefits of Amalaki are now being studied by modern medicine with positive evidence for use in managing abnormal levels of cholesterol or blood fats (dyslipidemia) and persistent heartburn.
The ultimate anti-ageing herb
Also known as the “mother”, due to its potent immune boosting (ojas promoting) properties that support the whole mind-body system, Amla is the ultimate restorative and all-round healer in Ayurveda. In Charaka Samhita it is said “Of all the rasayanas (anti ageing herbs), Amalaki is revered as one of the most potent and nourishing; Amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs.” Amla is said to have Vayastapana (stopping the ageing) benefits when consumed regularly in the diet or in supplements such as Chyavanaprash, a classical Ayurvedic herbal jam which has been used for centuries as a tonic for the both the young and old.
Cleanse, cool and detoxify the system
Amla is considered to be highly useful in detoxification as it supports almost all stages of the process, from metabolic action to effective elimination of stool and toxic material. Due to its high antioxidant level, Amla directly promotes detoxification by creating balance within the bodies many agni's; not just the main digestive agni (Jatharagni) but also all those of the cells and organs which moderate metabolism and immunity.
With a particular resonance to the pitta sites of the body - the liver, blood and small intestine (all of which play a vital role in detoxification) - Amla encourages gentle, natural cleansing and cooling of these tissues, boosting organ/tissue
function and natural detoxification. Amla is great for all bowel conditions as (in small doses) it can provide relief from diarrhoea and (in larger doses) encourage bowel motions and a healthy functioning of the gut.
How it works according to Ayurveda
Taste (Rasa) - 5 tastes (Pancharasa) sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent
Qualities (Guna) - Light, dry, cold
Potency (Virya) - Very cold
Post-digestive effect (Vipaka) - Sweet
Specific action (Prabhava) - Rasayana (rejuvenation which promotes longevity)
Dosha - Tridosha pacifying (mostly pitta)
- Anti-inflammatory (pittahara)
- Blood cleansing (raktha sodhana)
- Clears toxins (amahara)
- Reduces skin disease (kusthagna)
- Improves complexion (varnya)
- Supports the mind (medhya)
- Reduces blood sugar (premehagna)
- Relieves burning sensation (dahaprasamana)
- Reduces pain and swelling from gout (vataraksthahara)
- Rejuvenater/longevity promoter (rasayana)
- Promotes healthy digestive and metabolic function
- Supports weight loss (medohara)
- Reduces swelling (shotahara)
- Improves immunity (ojovardhana)
- Boosts fertility (vajikarana)
- Reduces fevers (jvaraghna)
Scientific pharmacological action
Appetiser, curative, antacid, biliousness, laxative (large doses), antioxidant, antiviral, anti-dyspepsic, immuno-modulator
Contraindications/when not to use Amalaki
Larger doses are contraindicated in diarrhoea
May affect uptake of iron and mineral due to tannin content
Not to be taken at night as it can weaken teeth.
How can I add Amalaki to my diet/lifestyle?
Fresh Amla is available in most Asian supermarkets, as well as being available available in tablet and powdered form. A typical dose is 12ml of juice or 3-6g powder per day.
Combined with other herbs:
Amla can be taken with Haritaki and Bibitaki in Triphala for ama conditions and constipation; as Chyvanprasha aveleha and amrtaprasha for immune support and as brahmarasayana for antiaging, amongst others.
AyurLife UK Approved Brands of Amalaki - Capsules
Books and journals
Gogte, V.M. (2012) Ayurvedic Pharmacology and Therapeutic Uses of Medicinal Plants (Dravyagunavignyam). 2nd ed. New Dehi: Chaukhambha.
The Chopra Centre (2014) Amalaki [online] Available at: http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/ayurvedic-herbs-foods/amalaki [last accessed 18th May 2014]
Himalaya herbals (2012) Amalaki: Nature's prime antioxidant [online] Available at: http://www.himalayahealthcare.com/products/pharmaceuticals/amalaki.htm [last accessed q8th May 2014]
Williamson, E. M. (ed) (2002) Major Herbs of Ayurveda. Edinburgh: Elsevier
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food Standards Agency. AyurLife UK advice is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner.
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