Amalaki (Embilica Officinalis) Uses & Benefits

Dylan Smith harvesting amalaki

Amalaki (Embilica officinalis) is not only considered by many to be Ayurveda's most potent fruit, but Amalaki is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda that is used extensively in formulations. 

Nomenclature

English: Indian Gooseberry
Sanskrit: Amalaki, aka Amla (vernacular).
Latin: Embilica officinalis or Pjullantus embilica (less common)

Synonyms:

  • Dhatri ("Mother" or "Nurse") - Amalaki is the ultimate carer and healer.
  • Amrta ("Immortality") - There are only a few herbs which have the Amrta quality. Amalaki is like nectar that promotes immortality.

Energetics

Rasa (taste): Sour (predominately), sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent
Virya (energy): Cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (quality): Dry, light.
Dosha: VPK-

Tridoshic Fruit

One of the marvels of Amalaki is that it contains all 6 tastes except salt. Thus this fruit mitigates:

  • vata by its sour taste
  • pitta by its sweet taste and cold virya (energy) and
  • kapha by the dry quality and astringent taste.

Usually sour herbs aggravate pitta. Amalaki is an exception, and is one of the very few sour herbs that actually reduce pitta.

Ayurvedic Action

Ganas (classical groups):

  • Vayasthapana (Anti-Aging) - Caraka (The famous sage) quoted Amlaki as the best among the Vayasthapana herbs.
  • Jvarghna (Treats Fever) (Caraka)
  • Kasaghna (Treats Cough) (Caraka)
  • Virecanopaga (Purgative) (Caraka)
  • Kusthaghna (Treats Skin Diseases) (Caraka)

Indications

Rasayana - Longevity and Immunity

Rejuvenator that promotes longevity. Thus is included in the classical group of Vayasthapana. "Rasa" (the essence of properly digested food) is being spread ("ayana") to nourish all the rasavaha srotas: 10 dhaminis (arteries) and heart, as well as the udakava srotas: Talu (soft pallet) and kloma (pancreas/thyroid).

This potent anti-oxidant fruit is fantastic immunomodulator, aphrodisiac and rejuvenator. (Bhavaprakasa).

Digestion

Assists bowels and reduces inflammation in the GIT as it supports healthy intestinal skin. Especially helpful in ulcers, hyperacidity (Amlapitta), colitis, hepatitis, haemorrhoids and intestinal bleeding conditions. Great laxative and liver cleansing action. Healthy intestinal "inner" skin accordingly improves health and lustre of the "outer" skin.

Diabetes and Metabolism

Its Ojas and immune boosting action helps cope with diabetes and urinary disorders (Prameha), (Bhavaprakasa).

Home Remedy: 2.5ml Amalaki juice + 2.5ml Turmeric juice + bit ot Honey (Astanga Hrdayam U.).

More Benefits:

  • Respiratory System - Amalaki's immune boosting action strengthens the lungs and helps in cough.
  • Sattva (Pure Consciousness) - Amalaki’s prabhava (special effect) is having a sattvic effect that raises the quality of consciousness and the overall wellbeing of the body.
  • Raktapitta (Bleeding diseases) (Bhavaprakasa).
  • Caksusya karma (Benefits the Eyes) - Reduces excess pitta in the eyes. Triphala is one of the best formulations for eye diseases (Netra roga). (A.P.I.)
  • Soma Roga
  • Kesha (Hair Tonic) - increases hair strength, reduces premature baldness greying since it pacifying the pitta burning the roots of the hair. A main ingredient in the Vital Veda + the Raju family's Bringraj Amalaka 11 Oil and Rajus Kesha Oil.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

According to the studies, the average Amla fruit (22.5gm) contains 121mg of vitamin C.
The average orange (130 grams) has about 70mg of vitamin C.

So one little Amla berry is packed with more vitamin C than the orange, which a 5.8 times bigger fruit!

Amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C than an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.

Research suggests this all-natural vitamin C content contributes to the potent antioxidant capabilities of Amalaki.

This is far from mega doses of vitamin C that people are taking. But what is compelling is the ability of Amalaki to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits.

More about Amalaki herb coming soon.

Important Formulations

Triphala

One of the most popular formulations in Ayurveda and rightly so because mostly everyone can use it and benefit from triphala's actions.

Triphala helps in diabetes and skin diseases. It is fantastic for the eyes (external and internal application) and helps in fever. It helps in digestion and natural, regular elimination (laxative action), thus is an essential supplement to take today when we (even health individuals) are inevitably exposes to environmental toxins. 

Note Triphala is contraindicated for those with loose motions, diarrhoea, bleeding disorders of the GIT. 

"Tri" = Three
"Phala" = Fruits

The three fruits (in equal quantity) that make up triphala are:

  1. Amalaki (Embilica officinalis)
  2. Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica)
  3. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)

Shodana Vati - 3-Dosha Balancing and Purification

Shodana Vati's main ingredient in Triphala plus a whole lot more other herbs. If one takes Shodana Vati (superior option) people do not need to take Triphala.

This is a Raju family formula made with love and mantras that is the best free radical scavenger and anti-oxidant; immune modulator and blood purifier. It's good for gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, tooth and oral problems, female problems, high cholesterol, chronic cough, eye disorders, addictions, helps clear the skin and more. Available at Vital Veda.

Chyavanaprasha

Chyavanaprasha is a honey based jam (leham) procured with many herbs. Eating this regularly maintains optimum energy and immunity levels, especially during seasonal and life changes. Chyavanaprasha reduces kapha, colds, and promotes inner strength.

Unfortunately most herbal manufactures are not making proper Chyavanaprasha. The only company that makes it properly to my knowledge is Maharishi Ayurveda, although Maharishi Amrit Kalash is superior.

Anand Sidhi Yog - Nutritious Immune Boosting Bliss

An easy to digest rasayana that strengthens and repairs all the dhatus (tissues). It provides supreme nourishment for rapid healing and feeds the most re ned levels of the physiology, the mind and only the healthy body, not the disease.
It strengthens the lungs, helps in chronic cough and is a great anti-oxidant. "ASY" restores physical vitality, immunity, good digestion and eternal bliss. Amalaki is the main ingredient in this Raju family formula made with love and mantras. Available at Vital Veda.

If taking Anand Sidhi Yog, no need to take Chaywanaprash or Amrit Kalash since ASY is superior.

Check out our Amla Pickle Recipe here.

If you are in India and Amla is in season (around December), take advantage of that and eat them fresh!

 

Credits:
Chywanprash photo - Jiva

 

Travel Healthy! Reduce Aeroplane Stress

Aeroplane travel will surreptitiously “suck the life out of you.” It sucks all the moisture out of your body.
With the humidity level in the cabins of most commercial aeroplanes at just 10-20%, and some even as low as 1%!(1), this makes aeroplanes drier than the Sahara Desert! which sits at about 25% humidity.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror after travelling, especially if you travel a lot. If you are slightly in tune with your body, you will probably realise how much aeroplane travel accelerates your ageing process.

You may be surprised to learn the many risks associated with air travel.

For example, one study shows how bacteria can stay alive and continue to be infectious for more than a week on the armrests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on aeroplanes. (2)

That’s not to mention the health risks associated with jet lag, dehydration, swelling and fatigue.

Altitude Shock = Dehydration & Dryness

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep in a plane? It is likely because the oxygen has been literally sucked out of your brain as the cabin is being pressurised.

When people flock to mountain towns to hike, ski or for leisure, it is very common for them to get altitude sickness. Even fit athletes who train at altitude can tell the difference when they climb to 3,000 meters. In a plane, this altitude change happens in just a couple of minutes!

Dehydration and body dryness is the most instant result of altitude shock.

If you are flying a lot and your body is repeatedly put through such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic. Chronic sub-clinical dehydration will first dry out the outer skin and then dry out the skin associated lymph beneath the skin. When this dries out, lymphatic flow is hampered, compromising its function of draining toxins and circulating white blood cells around the body for immunity.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incorporating just a few simple tips to your air travel routine will help lessen the impact of flying and help you feel more vibrant during and after your trips.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Pre-Hydrate

For 1-2 days before you fly, make every effort to drink plenty of warm-hot water. Approximately 2-3L depending on your body weight. Fresh coconut water is also recommended if in season and local.

On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

Lubricate

Perform Ayurvedic Self-Abhyanga (Massage) before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga if available, especially upon arrival.

This will not only counter the dryness but effectively move the lymph and circulate blood. Continue to topically apply oil as a moisturiser on the flight.
Pack a little Ghee as lip balm, or use the massage oil.

Shilajit

Used by Himalayan mountain climbers to gain energy for climbing at heights above 6,000 meters and to help oxygenate at high altitudes. The active ingredient of this ancient herb, Fulvic acid, has now been found by scientists to support oxygen and energy transport. Consider taking this herb around travel days.*

* It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather than by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a proper formulation and prescription. 

Pitta body types take caution as Shiljait is very heating and may aggravate Pitta.

Recycled Air

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air.

While exposure is unavoidable, we can increase our immunity and decrease our susceptibility.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.

Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity).

Oil to use:  Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula is superior. Inferior but still effective is Anu Tailia or cold pressed sesame oil.

Method: Tilt the head back and drop 1-3 drops in each nostril every hour so. The aim is to sniff it through the entire nasal passages, and even further up to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

Learn about Nasya more here

Immune Boosting Rasayana (Elixir)

Ananda Siddhi Yog
Highly nourishing to the body and boosts immunity, strengthens and repairs all the seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) and gives all the refined nourishment you need for rapid healing. Very good for chronic coughs (strengthens the lungs) and restores physical vitality.
This is superior to Chywanprash.
Take 1 tsp 1-2x/day. Contact Vital Veda to order.

Chywanprash
This trusted and popular Ayurvedic formula supports immunity. This is a classic remedy for supporting frequent travellers and mitigating your risk of catching a cold during a flight.
*Please buy a quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda or Maharishi Ayurveda.

Jet Lag

Imagine air-lifting a dolphin from the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia to the Indian Ocean by Singapore in just 8 hours. Then, after a quick layover, air-lift that same dolphin to the harbour in Hong Kong in 4 hours.

Would you expect that dolphin to ever re-establish normal migration patterns? If so, how long do you think it might take?

For humans too, this disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms is very real.

Jet lag can cause fatigue and lead to cognitive decline, sleep issues, and even psychotic or mood disorders.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Daily Ayurvedic Massage

Since your skin has more nerve endings than any other organ, applying herbalised oil will pacify the nervous system. Every square centimetre of the body’s skin is innervated by sensory neurons. These neurones are much happier when fed with herbalised oil, rather than left dehydrated to become irritated and over-stimulated. Learn to do self-massage.

Abhyanga oil massage as a good alternative for hand soap

Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

Watch the sunrise and sunset to re-connect with the local circadian cycles. Natures rhythms will enter through the retina of your eyes to regulate hormones like melatonin.
Even if it means pulling yourself out of bed, it’s worth it, and beautiful.

Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb supports the body’s ability to adapt to stress like that incurred by jet lag and prevent you from absorbing the crippling impact.

It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by it self. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult a quality Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom as a good source of ashwagandha.

Blood Clots

20 million travellers will develop blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a year.(3)
The risk factors seem to be a combination of sitting still for hours in a pressurised cabin, lymph congestion and dehydration.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Get Up and Move Regularly During Long Flights

  • Walk up and down the aisles more
  • Yoga Asanas - find a more spacious place to do stretches - I usually go near the bathroom, back or front of a section, near the staff stations, exit rows, rows with more leg room, empty business class areas, or my favourite, the muslim praying area.
  • Stretch your neck, rotate ankles, wrists, as much as you can while sitting.

Herbal Support

If DVT is an issue for you, it is important to consult a practitioner to tackle this problem. More complex herbs and treatment are required to dilate the channels.

Rest As Mentioned Above

Hearing Loss

Airline cabins range from 75 decibels in the front of the plane to 85 to 100 in the back. A loud nightclub, for example, roars at about 100 decibels. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits safe noise levels to 88 decibels for four hours. This suggests that there is potential risk of permanent hearing damage during frequent flights that last longer than four hours.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Noise Reduction Headphones

If you are a frequent traveller, consider a set of noise reduction headphones, which reduce noise by about 40 decibels.

Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drops in your ears before flying. Hold the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down into the eardrum.

Constipation

Very common due to jet lag, altitude shock and dehydration.

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the idea discussed above, particularly:

  • Constipation dries out the lymph concentration on the gut wall.
  • Altitude shock affects cellular pressure, which is responsible for lymph movement.
  • Sitting still for hours may congest the lymph as their is no movement to pump the lymph and regulate the circulatory system.
  • Dehydration directly affects lymph flow.
  • Jet lag creates stress on the body, which is a major cause of lymph congestion.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Vital Veda / Raju Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills prepared by the Raju family will support regular bowel motions.

Triphala

Tripahla is a natural bowel toner that supports regular bowel movements. It can be used for short periods of time around travels without dependency. available at Vital Veda.

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”

Sip Hot Water Frequently

Ensure you have a thermos with you to keep refilling. You’ll make best friends with the flight attendant and perhaps contribute to the revolution of drink hot water rather than cold.

Vata Tea

Since the Vata dosha gets mostly thrown out during travel, a Vata tea can assist in balancing. My favourite Vata tea is from Moksha Ayurveda.

Meditate More

Due to the harsh environment of an aeroplane, meditate as much as you like! It will buffer against jet lag, provide deep rest, and get you through the flight a lot more joyfully. Vedic Meditation is recommended.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

These only dehydrate you further while in the flight.

Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

Don’t forget these in your carry on luggage for long flights to scrape away the ama (toxins).

My on-board travel kit. Also includes a thermos and some Vata tea bags.

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

References
(1) Robert Haru Fisher, http://www.frommers.com/articles/4606.html
(2) http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/1656
(3) “The Lancet,” New Zeland, 2003.
Credits: Dr. John Doulliard, Lifespa.com