Essential Facts about Amalaki
- Botanical: Embellica officinalis or phyllantus emblica
- Sanskrit: Amalaki
- Hindi: Amla
- Other names: Dhrati (meaning ‘mother earth’) in Sanskrit and Hindi, Indian gooseberry in English
- Rasa (taste): Amla contains five of the six tastes (sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent)
- Guna (qualities): Heavy
- Virya (action): Cooling
- Vipaka (post-digestive effects): Sweet
- Dosha (constitution): Each dosha can benefit from Amalaki: sweet, sour and salty balance vata; sweet, bitter and astringent balance pitta; and bitter, pungent, and astringent balance kapha.
Amalaki is found in Northern and Southwestern India.
Amalaki is a deciduous tree with greenish-yellow flowers. The fruit grows in clusters and are round with a light green and yellow hue.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is generally the fruit that is used, but sometimes the rest of the plant, including the stem, flowers, roots and bark, are used.
Amalaki has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the plant kingdom and countless medicinal properties. A study which reviewed The Total Antioxidant Content Of More Than 3100 Foods, Beverages, Spices, Herbs And Supplements Used Worldwide found dried amla to be a food source with the highest antioxidant rating out of everything that was tested (with 261.5 mmol out of 100g).
The amalaki plant and tree is considered divine in Indian mythology, and is said to be an abode of Lord Vishnu.
Medicinal Uses of Amalaki
The Charaka Samhita says, “Amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs.” This plant is also known to treat ailments such as common colds, fever and issues with the digestive system. It is considered a diuretic, laxative, liver tonic and hair tonic, and is used to prevent peptic ulcers and dyspepsia.
Clinical studies have shown it to possess anti-inflammatory, “antipyretic, analgesic, antitussive, antiatherogenic, adaptogenic, cardioprotective, gastroprotective, antianemia, antihypercholesterolemia, wound healing, antidiarrheal, antiatherosclerotic, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, and neuroprotective properties.”
Another research paper calls amla “a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer” outlining, amongst other things, its free radical scavenging properties.
Application and Dosage of Amalaki
Amalaki powder is often mixed with a carrier, like milk or honey, to take the nutrients deeper into the body. An Ayurvedic expert can help determine the amount you need based on your condition and constitution.
You can also take a pre-formulated rasayana or tonic that contains Amalaki. The ancient art of Ayurveda has ways of getting the most of plants and medicine through processing and combining, meaning that when it is processed as per the traditional texts, its properties are heightened. This includes the method of churning it and combining it with 31 herbs, raw honey, ghee, and black sesame oil into the revitalising jam known as Chyawanprash.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)