Amla, also called as Amrit (nectar), is one of the most nourishing herbs for hair.
Some time back, I heard about the glorifying hair benefits of amla. This narrative was told by my cousin’s hairdresser to him and he later shared it with me, thinking it would help my readers.
A man used to come to this hairdresser’s place to dye his hair regularly. And he suddenly stopped coming. A few months later, the hairdresser happened to bump into his ex-client and inquired as to why he stopped coming. And he told that he has been drinking amla juice every morning since a few months and his greying has reduced remarkably, and he doesn’t need to dye anymore.
The hairdresser was pretty shocked to hear his reply, so shocked that he had been telling about it to all his clients.
I love anecdotal evidence. They are not the solid proof which science is looking for to certify the validity of the herb, but these tales are fresh revivals to the dyeing and dying science of past.
The name amla comes from Sanskrit word ‘Amlaki’, which literally means Amrit or fruit of heaven. In traditional Indian medicine, Amla is referred as the best anti-aging herb. It is believed by Ayurvedic practitioners that if an individual regularly takes amla, he/she can remain youthful and radiant up to 100 years.
A great sage named Muni Chyavan is said to have discovered the anti-aging properties of amla. Muni Chyavan rejuvenated himself in his late 70s and regained his vigor and strength by the use of amla. After his name an ayurvedic herbal jam— Chyavanprash — was created. It’s a well know ayurvedic medicine and is used as general health supplement.
Current research has validated that regular intake of amla improves eyesight, boosts the immune system, and regulates blood sugar and lipids. Amla is also reported to have chemopreventive and anti-cancer properties.
What makes amla so potent is the presence of zillion nutrients, which is not usual to be present in one single fruit or vegetable. It has almost twice the antioxidant power of acai berry and about 17 times that of pomegranate. Amla is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. It contains an array of antioxidants such as emblicanin, phyllantine, quercetin, gallic acid, and ellagic acid. Amla also contains a high concentration of minerals, amino acids, as well as strong immunity boosting properties.
Other names of Amla: Amla, biological name Phyllanthus emblica, is also called as Indian Gooseberry in English, avala in Marathi, amloki in Bengali, amla in Hindi, Gujrati, and Nepali, anmole in Chinese, nellikkai in Tamil, Kannada, Tulu, Aula in Punjabi, and amlakhi in Assamese.
Amla, an excellent hair tonic, has played a key role in the long, thick, and beautiful hair of India women. This wonderful berry acts as a natural conditioner, minimizes hair loss and greying, and encourages strong and healthy hair growth.
Let’s take a closer look at the hair benefits of amla …
The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients present in the amla increases scalp circulation, strengthen hair follicles and stimulate healthy new growth.
With its amazing bundle of antioxidants, amla supplements can get rid of free radicals that can cause hair fall, greying, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Antioxidants play an important role in neutralizing these free radicals and act as protective and preventive agents. These benefits of amla are supported by a recent scientific study.
According to ayurveda premature greying usually occurs due to excess pitta in the body – some of the signs of excess pitta include, skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, and heartburn. Amla, a natural coolant, is an excellent remedy to pacify pitta conditions, and thereby reduce greying.
Amla also helps to renew pigmentation in hair and makes it darker and thicker. It has been used as an effective ingredient in natural hair dyes and other hair products.
With incredible healing properties, amla promotes a healthy scalp. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties help with dandruff and other scalp conditions. In addition, the cooling effect of amla helps to relieve redness, irritation, and itchiness, and help with the healing of skin
Anti-dandruff recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon amla juice with 1 tablespoon coconut oil to make a homemade anti-dandruff blend. How to use here.
Amla is one of the world’s oldest hair conditioners. When used as a hair rinse, it nourishes, conditions, and adds amazing shine and texture to your hair. In addition, due to cleansing action of amla, this rinse works very well in hard water and helps remove cal deposits or product build-up, leaving your hair clean and healthy. Here’s how to make amla rinse.
Amla oil is another great way to deep condition your hair. Use it as a pre-wash conditioner, or post-wash as a leave-in conditioner.
Fresh amlas are mostly available from October to March. You will find them at Indian grocery stores – in most part of the world, thanks to globalization.
It tastes sour, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter. I like to eat mine sprinkled with some salt and pepper, as it greatly improves the taste and makes it less sour. I get a weekly supply of 5 to 6 amlas, cut them into small pieces, sprinkle salt and pepper, and leave them on the sunny windowsill. Fresh, sun basked amla tastes great.
To eat: I eat 1-2 pieces when I see them. But the best time to eat it is in the morning or evening. Eat no more than one to two amlas a day.
This is another way of including amla in your diet. A tablespoon of fresh amla juice forms a very valuable supplement to your diet. Its regular use will improve your energy levels, boost immunity, and keep you healthy and radiant. Take it ever morning and/or evening.
I like to drink amla juice mixed with some water, but you can drink it as it is. You can also juice it with other vegetables and fruits. Try different ways and see what works for you. If fresh amlas are not available, you can buy ready-made amla juice from the market.
Amla powder is probably the most convenient option, and also easily available. And it contains most of the nutrients of fresh amla, so there is no excuse for not including this amazing berry in your diet. (I like this one).
There are few ways to take amla powder:
1. Mix it with clarified butter or ghee, recommended if you have hyperacidity
2. Mix it with honey or black pepper, if you are prone to cough and cold
3. The easiest option is to dilute it with some warm water and drink it.
Start with 1/4 teaspoon, and you can go up to 1 teaspoon per day. Take it in the morning or one hour after a meal.
When fresh amlas are not available, this is another way to consume amla. You can buy dried amla supari or you make it at home for later use.
How to Make: When amlas are available in season, buy large quantities, cut them into small pieces, and add one or more seasoning such as black pepper, sea salt, rock salt, cumin powder, carom (ajwain) powder, sugar, and ginger juice. Then, spread them on a tray and place under the sun to dry. Turn daily until dry.
Or make a delicious chutney and serve as a spread or dip. Here’s a simple recipe.
Buying Amla Supplements: Amla powder is the most convenient and easy way to include amla in your daily diet. I like this one and this one. You can also take amla chyawanprash or amla jam (herbal version). I prefer this and this.
Are there any side effects of amla? No side effects have been reported so far. Amla is cooling by nature, so if you suffer from a cough, cold, or any respiratory condition, then amla is best taken with some honey or black pepper.
Note: If you suffer from any medical condition or have never taken amla before, it’s best to consult a medical practitioner before taking it in any form.
Do you take amla in your diet? how did it benefit you? please share below…
You may also like:
Baliga, M. S and Dsouza, J. J (2011) Amla, a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. European journal of cancer prevention, Vol 20(3), p 225-239.
Dasaroju, S and Gottumukkala, K. M (2014) Current trends in the research of Emblica Officinalis (amla): A pharmacological perspective. International journal of pharmaceutics, 24(2), p 150-159.
Hazra, B; Sarkar, R; Biswas, S; Mandal, N (2010) Comparative study of the antioxidant and reactive oxygen species scavenging properties in the extract of the fruits of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica, and Emblica officinalis. BMC Complementary and alternative medicine, 10:20.