Indian gooseberry/Amla is known as an elixir and has wide medicinal use in the ayurveda. Rich source of vitamin C, fibre and other phytonutrients. The fruit, is used to make pickles, juices, preserves and murabba.
Even though it is sour in taste, it gives a sweet after taste and is known to pacify all the three doshas in ayurveda. It finds application as a rasayana to treat various health disorders in ayurveda.
Indian gooseberry or Amla/nellikai is one of the most important medicinal plants in Indian traditional systems of medicine (Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha), also considered as an ‘elixir’.
Nutritional profile of Amla
Amla is the richest source of Vitamin C, containing 30 times more vitamin C than oranges. It is also rich in amino acids and minerals like chromium, zinc and copper.
It contains a number of phytonutrients such as tannins, alkaloids, phenols which has numerous health benefits right from improving immunity to fighting cancer cells.
Health benefits and Uses of Amla4
Numerous experimental evidence has shown that amla fruit possess antioxidant, hepatoprotective, hypocholesterolemic and anti-inflammatory properties1.
Immunity booster - due to its rich Vitamin C content, it is used as an adaptogen to improve the immunity. Vitamin C also helps in absorption of iron thereby giving double protection to the body against infections and helpful in the management of anaemia.
Use - Amla is the base in the preparation of chyawanprash, an ayurvedic product which helps to boost immunity in kids and adults alike
Healing properties2 - Amla protects cells against free radical damage and provides antioxidant protection. Amla has antibacterial and astringent properties that help to prevent infection and help in the healing of ulcers
Anticancer properties3 - The powerful antioxidant Ellagic acid, present in Amla, can inhibit mutations in genes and repairs the chromosomal abnormalities.
Amla inhibits the growth and spread of various cancers like breast, uterus, pancreas, stomach and liver cancers. It can prevent and/or reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Amla for good hair and skin - Because Amla-Berry strengthens digestion, helps the liver detoxify, and is rich in Vitamin C and other minerals, it is very good for the complexion.
Amla moisturizes the skin, cleanses the tissues of toxins, and supports immunity of the skin against bacterial infection. It helps to enhance glow and luster.
Amla boosts absorption of calcium, thus creating healthier bones, teeth, nails, and hair. It also helps to maintain youthful hair color and retards premature graying, and supports the strength of the hair follicles, so there is less thinning with age.
Massaging the head with amla oil, induces sound sleep, good for hair growth and prevents premature greying of hair
Homemade fix for good hair6 -
- For a quick home remedy soak amla powder in water for a week. Then use it wash hair. This preparation is a 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner and hair dye.
Respiratory disorders - Indian gooseberry is beneficial in the treatment of respiratory disorders. It is especially valuable in tuberculosis of the lungs asthma and bronchitis.
- For cough - the powder of amalaka cooked with milk and ghee added should be taken.
- For fever - the juice of amla fried with ghee alleviates fever.
Heart Disease - Indian gooseberry is considered an effective remedy for heart disease. It tones up the functions of all the organs of the body and builds up health by destroying the heterogeneous elements and renewing the body energy.
- Grind dried amla into a fine powder and mix it with sugar candy (mishri). Store this mixture in a glass bottle and take one teaspoon of this mixture every day empty stomach. This will help maintain the cholesterol level.
Ageing: Indian gooseberry has revitalizing effects, as it contains an element which is very valuable in preventing ageing and in maintaining strength in old age.
- Taking powder of amalaki along with gold help to promote longevity.
- For prevention of premature aging - a mixture of amalaki juice, honey, sugar and ghee coupled with wholesome diet
Body coolant: Despite the fact that amla-berry is excellent for all doshas and seasons, it is particularly effective in the hot season to chill pitta dosha. It is a specifically good rasayana for humans with pitta and vata physique varieties.
Digestive health - Being a good source of fibre, amla helps to relieve constipation and also helps to balance the stomach acids.
The general use of amla can enhance digestion, absorption, and assimilation of meals. People who consume amla experience better digestion of all types of food. It enhances digestive fire.
- For management of hyperacidity - amalaki powder mixed with honey helps to relieve the pain from hyperacidity.
- For piles - A preparation called as kadha made of kasmarya and amalaka and taken with curd controls bleeding piles.
- To stimulate appetite - taking preserves and pickles made from amla fruit helps to stimulate the appetite.
For diabetics5 - for diabetics, nishamalaki has been found to be comparable to the effect of metformin in reducing blood sugar in diabetics.
Nishamalaki refers to group of various combination formulations of Haridra and Amalaki. It is found effective in the clinical management as well as prevention of complications of Madhumeha, Prameha (obesity, prediabetes) and Diabetes through in vitro, in vivo (animal and clinical) studies.
Cardioprotective properties of amla -
With its high antioxidant properties, it has the ability to reduce inflammation and preventing degeneration of heart muscles.
Amla also helps in controlling hypertension by increasing the strength of our heart muscles, and antioxidants like pectin and amino acids present in amla help in decreasing low-density lipoprotein from our body and helps in increasing good cholesterol (HDL) in our body.
Regular consumption of amla also prevents fat and plaque from getting accumulated in arteries and reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Use - those with cardiac problems can take a capsule of amla powder daily after consultation with the doctor.
Other health benefits6-
- It helps sharpen the intellect and mental functioning. It supports the nervous system and strengthens the senses.
- It helps eliminate waste from the body but does not over-stimulate the urinary system like other diuretic drugs.
- Amla-Berry also keeps menstruation regular and healthy. Amla-Berry supports the reproductive systems of both men and women.
- It also strengthens the liver, helping it in eliminating toxins from the body
- Amla-Berry is called chakshushya, which means "strengthening the eyes". Amla is frequently used in cataract medicine.
Over the counter amla products
Amla is commercially available in the form of amla juice, amla murabba, amla capsule, amla powder, amla candy, amla pickles, dried spiced amla, amla oil and so on.
Amla is also a key ingredient in formulations like Triphala, chyawanprash that has many health benefits ranging from improved digestion to promoting longevity.
Having amla in the form of candy or dried form is good to get its benefits. However those taking amla in its concentrated form like juice, capsule or powder need to consult an ayurvedic practitioner for the dosage and duration.
Side effects of amla
Amla as such does not cause any side effects. it is only the consumption of commercial products which have a high content of additives like artificial colours, flavors and preservatives can lead to problems like acidity.