You most likely know the age-old saying “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away”.
And do you know that “An Amla a Day Keeps Hair Loss Away”. That’s also an age-old saying. Not in those words, but if you were to pick any ayurvedic text that talks about amla, there will be mention of how good amla is for hair.
Amla nourishes and strengthens hair and enhances its shine and volume. Also, if you have started to grey or you are already quite a bit grey, amla will help darken your hair. Which is quite cool – thicker, darker hair that shines bright. We have got amla’s tagline here.
How does amla create beautiful hair? Before we delve on it, here’s a little bit about amla, the fruit.
Amla is a sour fruit, with a somewhat sweet, bitter and pungent taste. Eating a fresh amla is like taking your taste buds on a roller coaster. You will be first hit by a sour taste, then the bitter and pungent taste will follow and in the end you will be left with a sweet flavour in your mouth. You can’t eat amla by keeping a straight face.
Amla grows on a small to medium size tree. Its scientific name is Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica officinalis. You will find amla trees in the India subcontinent as well as China, Uzbekistan and Malaysia.
What’s interesting about amla is it’s categorised as ‘Rasayana’ in the ayurvedic medicine. To get the label of rasayana, the food or herb must have strong anti-ageing qualities. So it should help delay conditions that come with old age, like joint pain, diabetes, memory loss, low energy, skin pigmentation and hair loss. And amla, a nutrient-dense food, can help deal with these issues and keep us healthy and vibrant for the longest time.
What’s amla got? Amla is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C. It has about ten times more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C helps boost our immune system, and we certainly need it in these times when a little virus is taking over our lives.
Besides, amla contains tons of phenolic compounds which work as potent antioxidants. Current research shows that amla helps to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and promote wound healing. Amla is also good for your digestive health, improves iron absorption, boosts energy levels and gives you glowing skin.
And for your hair, amla is a fantastic tonic.
The hair benefits of amla are time-tested. Also, amla works on both women and men, regardless of age. Whether you are a teenager eating junk and partying hard and then worrying about bad hair day, or an ambition driven adult losing hair, or god-knows-why greying person, amla will solve your hair crises. Amla doesn’t discriminate, it helps everyone. But, don’t just rely on amla, if your lifestyle is crappy, sort it out or even the potent amla will be rendered useless.
The fab thing about amla is it works on hair multiple ways. It beautifies hair, promotes healthy hair growth as well as reduces grey hair.
For those of you with pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), amla works by inhibiting the enzyme 5α-reductase. This is the enzyme which converts testosterone into hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). When there’s excess DHT, it causes inflammation and shrinking of hair follicles and eventually leading to hair loss. A study done on mice tested amla along with minoxidil, the conventional hair loss drug with a myriad of side effects including skin rash and dryness. And they found that amla was able to promote hair growth better than minoxidil. The research team even envisioned amla as a promising herbal treatment for pattern baldness.
Ayurvedically speaking, amla works on hair loss by reducing pitta dosha. If you are not familiar, pitta individuals tend to be hot, by which I mean their body temperature tends to be higher than normal, and they hate hot weather. Some of the signs of high pitta include, skin rashes, acidity, and early thinning and greying. Foods like amla, which are naturally cooling, help to reduce pitta dosha and thus reduce hair loss and greying.
As we have seen earlier, amla is a rasayana or rejuvenating herb. With tons of antioxidant compounds including vitamin C, it helps to get rid of free radicals – another cause of early greying and hair loss. Excessive free radicals are formed due to bad diet, pollution, smoking and pesticides and can damage our body tissues, including hair follicles. So curbing them is essential and amla is quite powerful in destroying free-radicals.
That was amla helping with hair issues. Amla is also an excellent conditioner. Probably the world’s oldest conditioner. When you use it as a hair rinse, it adds amazing shine and enhances its texture and volume.
Amla is a pretty solid herb for hair, now let’s see how to use it.
Since amla is a fruit, you can eat it. Or you can use amla to make hair oil. And you can also use amla water as a last rinse to boost shine and promote hair growth.
If you live in countries where amla grows, they are in season from October to March. I have seen fresh amla in most of the Indian stores in the UK. I would assume they should be available in other countries with a large Indian population.
Don’t worry if you can’t find fresh amla, you can also eat them in dried form. Since amla contains tannins, one of the phenolic compounds, they tend to preserve the vitamin C and other goodness of amla. You can take amla powder mixed in warm water or eat the candied or salted amla. (More on how to eat amla here.)
Tip: You can eat amla once or twice a week.
Then there’s also amla water you can use on your hair…
You can replace your regular conditioner with amla water. And it will not disappoint you. Amla water is quite magical in its working. It reduces hair loss and adds volume and texture to hair. With regular use, it will also darken your hair – which is fantastic, no more hair dye headache.
You will need:
Preparing and using amla water is very straightforward. You simply combine amla with water and let it sit overnight (8-10 hours) and it’s ready to use. Of course you need to strain it before using. Discard the amla pieces.
How to Use
After shampooing, pour the amla water slowly. Massage it into your scalp and hair and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then rinse out with water. Repeat twice a week.
Lastly, you can also apply amla oil to your hair…
Amla oil is one of the popular hair oils in Indian cultures. And rightly so. Amla oil makes hair stronger and healthier by coating the hair surface. You can make your own amla oil – here are simple instructions on how to make amla oil. Alternatively, you can buy amla oil from the market.
That’s all about amazing amla and its hair benefits. Before we end, let’s recap:
Do you use amla for hair growth? Please share your experiences in the comment box below…
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