Nature has given a wonderful gift to mankind in medicinal plants to promote healthy, happy and disease-free life. These plants play a vital role in natural healing. If I were allowed to choose the most amazing medicinal plant to treat medical conditions, it would be Indian gooseberry (amla). This plant has some exceptional benefits to health and our overall well-being.
Amla or Phyllanthus Emblica belongs to family Euphorbiaceae. It is a small to medium sized deciduous tree found throughout India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, China, and Malaysia. According to the national institute of health, Phyllanthus Emblica is highly nutritious and could be an important source of vitamin c, amino acids, and minerals. It can be used as a medicine and as a tonic to improve vitality and resistance power. Research shows that a unique complex within Indian gooseberry is super nutritious. It has more antioxidant activity than blueberries; it has 20 times more vitamin c than lemon juice. It has 30 times more polyphenols than red wine and has more gallic acid (a potent antioxidant) than any other fruit.
What are the uses of amla in traditional Indian medicine? What are the benefits of this wonderful superfood? How can we use it easily at home with simple DIY recipes? Read on to know more.
Use of Amla in Traditional Indian Medicine
Amla has been used in Ayurveda and Unani system of medicine for the therapeutic purpose for long years. The fruits, seed, leaves, root, bark, and flowers are parts of the plant that used in traditional Indian medicine. According to Ayurveda, amla balances all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). It contains 5 out of 6 tastes recognized by Ayurveda.
Amla is particularly helpful in reducing pitta because of its cooling energy. It also balances both pitta and vata by virtue of its sweet taste. The Kapha is balanced primarily due to its drying action. It may be used as a Rasayana (rejuvenative) to promote longevity. It also helps in:
- Enhancing digestion (dipanapachana)
- Treat constipation (Anuloma)
- Reduce fever (jvaraghna)
- Purify the blood (Raktaprasadana)
- Reduce coughs (Kasahara)
- Alleviate asthma (svasahara)
- Enliven the body (jivaniya)
- Enhance intellect (Medhya)
- Strengthen the heart (hrdaya)
- Benefit the eyes (chakshushya)
- Stimulate the hair growth (romasanjana)
Nutritional Value of Amla
Amla is reputed for its high ascorbic acid content and antioxidant rich activity. In a 100 gram serving, gooseberries provide 44 calories. Gooseberries are 88% water, 10% carbohydrate and less than 1% each of protein and fat. It is abundant in vitamins and minerals. Apart from being the richest source of vitamin c (27.7%), it also contains other vitamins too, that includes Vitamin A (2%), thiamine(b1) 3%, riboflavin (b2) 3%, Niacin (B3) 2%, Pantothenic acid (B5)6%, Vitamin B6 6%, Folate (Bg) 2% and vitamin E 2%.
Minerals: it contain calcium 3%, copper 4%, iron 2%, Magnesium 7%, phosphorus 4%, potassium 4%, sodium 0%, zinc, copper 1%.
Scientific research on Amla (Indian gooseberry)
According to a study published in British journal of nutrition, Morden scientists have studied the amla fruit for more than 25 years and determined that amla’s unique blend may have a positive influence on everything from metabolic syndrome to anti-aging process. Japanese researcher put Sun Amla (a proprietary amla extract) to the test by evaluating its effect on human endothelial cells and in a rat model. In both cases, the amla fruit extract inhibited the biological responses that can lead to inflammation and blood clots. It also works to combat the free radicals and contribute to overall health.
According to center for pharmaceutical science institute of science and technology, a review report shows that several types of research confirmed that various extract and herbal preparation of amla showed potential therapeutic benefits against various diseases and result were similar to standard drugs. Though more scientific research will be needed to confirm this.
Benefits of Amla
Amla is a Great Antioxidant Food
Amla is one of the most antioxidant rich foods on earth. According to some scientific research, it has turned out to be the number one among the antioxidant rich food. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. This damage is an important factor in the development of different disease conditions such as blood vessels disease, cancer etc.
In a comparative study of Amalaki, the Sanskrit name of the Indian Gooseberry), with spirulina and wheat grass, the vitamin c content of crude amla powder was found to be 5.38 mg. It was also found to be the rich source of phenolic compounds. Because of these constitutes, amla works great as an antioxidant agent and helps in keeping our body disease free. Amla contains various antioxidants that include ellagic and gallic acid, emblicanin a and b, punigluconin, and much more. A detailed scientific analysis of amla shows that this antioxidant provides powerful protection against various diseases and slows down the aging process.
Amla is a Potent Hypolipidemic Agent
Amla has a great hypolipidemic agent; in simple words, it can produce a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride, and VLDL. To evaluate the efficacy of amla as a hypolipidemic agent, a clinical trial has been conducted on 600 patients. Out of total 600 patients, 40 were treated with the Amla Capsule (500 mg (daily for 42 days and 20 patients were given Simvastatin capsule (20mg) daily for 42 days. After analyzing various biochemical parameters, and the value of total cholesterol, LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), HDL (High-density lipoprotein), and VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein), it has been observed that amla produces a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride, and VLDL and a significant increase in HDL level. It is concluded with this study that amla produces significant hypolipidemic effect along with a reduction in Blood pressure. With this effect, it can play a vital role in the prevention of development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Amla has Great Hepatoprotective Properties
Scientific studies have shown that amla is effective in preventing the toxic effects of hepatotoxic agents like paracetamol, heavy metals, antitubercular drugs, and ethanol. Amla is also reported to impart beneficial effects on liver function and to mitigate hyperlipidemia and metabolic syndrome.
Amla has a Good Anti-Diabetic Effect
Amla has anti-diabetic properties. Scientific studies have shown that amla or some of its important constituents (including Gallic acid, gallotannins, ellagic acid and corilagin) possess antidiabetic effect through their antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. It also helps in preventing hyperglycemia and diabetic neuropathy. More scientific evidence is needed to confirm this study.
Related: Top 10 blood sugar lowering foods
Amla is Good for Hair
As it contains a lot of vitamin c, minerals, and antioxidants, amla helps in promoting hair growth and work as a tonic for hair health. It reduces hair loss, strengthens hair roots, and enhances the natural color of your hair. It also works as a natural conditioner for hair and helps in preventing premature graying of hair. This amazing health benefits for hair could be obtain
- Either by eating gooseberry fruit
- Applying amla paste on hair roots
- Using amla hair oil for nourishing hair
According to a recent survey on the use of hair oils for hairdressing by the Indian population revealed that amla oil is extremely popular for hair and used equally by men and women. It is the most effective oil in controlling hair parasites. It has been proven to be the most toxic for hair parasites and most effective at keeping hair parasites free.
Related: Reverse gray hair naturally
Amla Helps in Treating Bone Disorders Including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis
Osteoclasts are involved in rheumatoid arthritis and in several pathologies associated with bone loss. According to a scientific study, extracts of Emblica Officinalis were able to induce programmed cell death of mature osteoclasts, thus potentially limiting the damage they can do to our bones and joints. Accordingly, the study suggests Amla extracts could be an alternative tool for therapy applied to bone disease.
Amla Helps in Treatment and Prevention of Cancer
Amla is wonderful in the treatment and prevention of cancer. The fruit is used either alone or in combination with other plants to treat many elements. It has great anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, cardio protective, anti-anemic, antipyretic, and many more awesome healing properties. Experimental studies have shown that amla and some of its constituents (like pyrogallol, gallic acid, and ellagic acid) possess anti-neoplastic properties. Especially pyrogallol (an active component of Emblica Officinalis extracts) has an antiproliferative effect on some human cancer cell lines.
Apart from all these wonderful benefits, amla
- Helps in slow down the aging process
- It improves digestion and prevents constipation
- Improve eye sights and helps in treating eye disorders
- Boosts immunity and protects our body against infection through its antibacterial properties.
- Increases diuretic activity and helps in elimination of toxic products from the body.
- Great for skin, it gives you radiant skin and also keeps it hydrated.
- It is also a good blood purifier. Regular consumption of amla powder helps in increasing hemoglobin naturally.
Related: How to use turmeric to kill cancer
Different Ways Amla Can Be Used as a Remedy
Of course, eating the fresh fruit is the best option to get the nutritional benefit of this super fruit, but it tastes quite sour and so many people might struggle to eat this as a fruit. Second, not all of us able to get the access to fresh fruit all the time. Here are some super easy ways to use amla at home easily.
Before making any recipe with Indian gooseberry it is very important to select a good quality of fruit. Here are few tips to select the good quality fruit.
It should be properly ripe, fresh, hard, well skinned, bright yellowish green in color and medium in size. Avoid buying bruised, raw, too green, wrinkled, spotted, infected, or bad smelling fruit.
Amla juice is easiest option to add amla to your diet. The regular consumption of gooseberry juice prevents many diseases and empowers the strength. And personally, I prefer to use it.
- 3-4 amla
- Grinder, juicer or mortar and pestle
- Salt (optional and according to test)
- Grated ginger, raw honey (1 teaspoon, optional)
- First, select a good quality of amla
- Soak amla in salted water for a while to remove any unwanted residue before using
- Wash the amla
- Dry them with a cloth
- Grate or cut the amla in finer pieces
- Now, you can use either grinder, juicer or a mortar and pestle. Grind the amla with the help of little water, strain the mixture through a strainer. Strain and squeeze the pulp to get the juice. For adding extra taste and flavor you add a pinch of salt. If you are hypertensive, it is best to avoid salt. If you are diabetic, avoid honey.
- Otherwise, 1 Tsp ginger and raw honey can be added if you like.
- Help in weight loss (especially when you drink it with honey)
- Improve metabolism and digestion
- I usually had better hair health after using it.
- Skin texture will improve.
- Increase immunity and reduction in routine infections
The second way to use amla at home is also very easy; you just need to dry the amla in shade for few days and then grind it in a grinder. After grinding, you may use a sifter for getting a more powdered form.
Of course, amla powder is great for our health, but for getting better result you can take Triphala churna (powder). My grandma used to take this powder for long years as a routine for her digestion. It is easily available at the local store (in India) and you can order it online too. Triphala is a staple of Ayurveda medicine in India. It is considered one of the greatest herbal preparations that provide excellent results.
Triphala churna or powder is made from three fruits: amla, haritaki or Harda, and bibhitaki. Apart from getting some common benefits such as good digestion, weight loss, this churna helps in balancing the doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) of our body.
- Amla helps in balancing the pitta dosha
- Haritaki helps in calming the Vata dosha
- Bibhataki benefits to the Kapha dosha
It is usually taken empty stomach with lukewarm water. You may also make a tea by adding the 1 teaspoon powder in boiling water. Capsules, tonic, and tablets are also available. As a general rule, when you start consuming a new product you should go slow and observe any changes if you had. But if you had any existing medical condition and if you are taking any medication it is always advisable to take medical advice.
This is the third easiest way to include amla as a part of your regular diet. This easily prepared and crunchy amla tastes so good and provides excellent nutritional benefits to your body.
- 10-20 amla
- Salt and turmeric (according to taste)
- Lemon juice (2-3 Tsp)
- Wash the amla properly and wipe them with a clean kitchen towel.
- Cut them in thinner slices and discard the seeds (you may grate them if you like a finer texture)
- Toss the sliced amla with salt, lemon juice, and turmeric
- Spread them on a large plate and cover with a thin cloth.
- Let them sun dry for few days (7-8 days are good enough) or until there is no moisture left in the amla. Once, they become crispy, store them in a clean and air tight container.
- Eat after every meal.
- It is great for digestion and tastes so good. Even kids would love it.
- It could be used as a healthy snack especially during winter.
- It is hassle free and could be prepared in large quantity.
Side Effects of Amla
Like any other herbal or Ayurveda preparation, amla may interfere with the action of the certain medication. It may cause some side effects. Such as:
- It may cause hyperacidity in the sensitive individual.
- It may increase the risk of bleeding if you are taking any blood thinning medication or suffering from any kind of blood disorders, you need to take extra precaution while consuming it.
- If you are diabetic and taking anti-diabetic medication, it is best to consult your physician before consuming it. It may cause a sudden drop in blood sugar level.
- There is not enough safety data available to use it during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is best to avoid its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- As it may increase the risk of bleeding, it is advisable to discontinue its use 2 weeks prior to scheduled surgery.
Why It Matters
No doubt, amla is a super nutritious and had amazing healing properties, but at this time there is not enough scientific evidence to support the efficacy and safety of it, it is best to consult with your doctor before consuming it. Did you have observed any amazing healing property of this super fruit? What was your experience? Please share with us.
- Mental Health, Physical Health & B Vitamins – Nature’s Valium
- How to Detoxify and Heal the Lymphatic System
- Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones
- Phyllanthus Emblica-Wikipedia
- Evaluation of antioxidant profile and activity of Amalaki – NCBI
- Hepatoprotective properties of Indian gooseberry – NCBI
- Anti-diabetic effect of Indian indigenous fruit Emblica Officinalis – NCBI
- Amla, a wonder berry in treatment and prevention of cancer – NCBI
- Induction of apoptosis of human primary osteoclasts treated with the extract from the Emblica Officinalis – NCBI
- New research may explain some of the amla fruit’s legendary health benefits – Taiyo International
- Current trends in the research of Amla – Global Reseach Online
- Superfood that may slow down the aging process – Dr. Axe
- Indian gooseberry- An overview – Web MD