What is Amalaki?
The fruit of the amalaki tree has long been believed to be helpful in promoting digestive health.Amalaki is a tree that grows throughout Asia and bears a lemon-sized fruit for several months out of the year. Herbal preparations using different parts of the amalaki tree have long been considered to hold healing qualities by the practitioners of ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian healing system. The fruit has a bitter taste and so is not usually eaten on its own, but rather prepared as part of a meal or condensed into supplement form. Amalaki has different names depending on where it is grown and thus is also known as amla and Indian gooseberry.Amalaki is considered to be high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Ayurvedic medicine maintains that amalaki is helpful for a wide variety of health problems as it has a positive effect on many of the body’s systems. In terms of specificity for digestive health, amalaki is thought to facilitate digestion, to regulate elimination, and to ease constipation. Amalaki is also used as one of the three main ingredients in a popular ayurvedic preparation known as triphala. Although there is some preliminary research supporting the health benefits of triphala, amalaki alone has not yet been studied.
Other names for Amalaki: Amla, Indian Gooseberry, Amlaki, Amala,Dhatri
Amalaki is a small round fruit (about ½ to 1” in diameter) obtained from the emblica officinalistree, which is native to tropical southeastern Asia, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the Mascarene Islands. Amalaki is one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants and contains high levels of vitamin C. Amalaki also contains small amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, and B vitamins, as well as many different tannins and pectin.
In the Ayurvedic healing tradition, amalaki (also known as Indian gooseberry) is considered the best herbal medicine for rejuvenation. Amalaki traditionally has been used for a wide variety of illnesses, including hepatitis, pancreatitis, cancer, and digestive issues. The amalaki fruit is extremely nutritious and is prized among Ayurvedic practitioners for being one of the few foods that contains five of the six essential tastes (rasas). Amalaki contains the sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. It lacks only the salty taste. This is a valuable property because in Ayurveda, including all six tastes at every meal is one of the keys to creating a balanced diet and optimal health. Amalaki is also used for detoxification and to enhance immune function.
Amalaki is the basis of the popular Ayurvedic herbal jam known as chavanprash, which was named after the doctor who developed the formula thousands of years ago. The usual dosage of chavanprash is one teaspoon, twice daily. It can be taken straight, on toast, or mixed in warm milk or water.
Amalaki is also one of the three main herbs in triphala, a gentle Ayurvedic cleansing tonic that can be useful in treating chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. When combined with shatavari, fennel, and turmeric, amalaki can be effective in reducing hyperacidity of the stomach and gut.
The Science of Amalaki
Researchers have studied amalaki in two major health areas: cancer and heart disease. In studies of animals, suggest that amalaki may slow the development and growth of cancer cells. In a study carried out in India, mice that were given a known cancer-causing chemical along with amalaki had significantly fewer harmful genetic changes than those given the carcinogen alone. Another study found that amalaki reduced genetic mutations in bacteria exposed to carcinogenic substances.
In the area of heart research, several studies of rabbits have shown that amalaki can help to lower serum cholesterol levels and the deposition of fat into blood vessels. This cholesterol-lowering effect also applies to human beings. For example, in one study, men whose diet was supplemented with amalaki for one month had decreased serum cholesterol levels, whether or not their cholesterol was elevated before they began taking amalaki. Other studies suggest that amalaki-based supplements can reduce the harmful oxidation of cholesterol in humans.
Amalaki should be used cautiously by people with the following conditions:
Loose bowels: Amalaki has laxative properties.
Hypoglycemia: Some animal and human studies have found that amalaki has a glucose-lowering effect.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.