Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, the amalaki berry is arguably the most important plant in Ayurvedic medicine. It has five of the six major tastes, making it balancing for all body types in all seasons. It is harvested year-round depending on where in India it is grown; consequently, it is one of the few herbs that are ideal to take year-round as preventative support.
Amalaki is a bright yellow-green fruit that is also called amla or Indian gooseberry. It comes from the Phyllanthus emblica tree. In Ayurveda, it is categorized as a rasayana which are herbs used for longevity, deep rejuvenation, immunity, and vitality.
In This Article
Ayurvedic Classifications of Amalaki
- Taste (rasa): Amalaki has all the major tastes except salt. It is primarily sour and astringent, followed by sweet, bitter, and pungent tastes.
- Dosha (vata, pitta, kapha): Balances all three doshas.
- Energy (veerya): Cooling, which balances pitta.
- Digestive Energy (vipaka): Sweet, which balances vata and pitta.
- Quality (guna): Light and dry, which balances kapha.
Ten Science-Backed Reasons to Take Amalaki Year-Round
1. Amalaki for Metabolic Support
Metabolic syndrome is an epidemic within Western societies. This syndrome combines many common problems: high blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and abdominal weight gain. Research suggests amalaki may offer support for a healthy metabolism. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 98 volunteers were given 500mg of an amalaki extract twice daily for two weeks. The results were promising. Amalaki demonstrated a positive effect on triglycerides, HDL, cholesterol, apo B, blood pressure, and blood sugar! In addition, the participants saw healthy support of their arteries due to decreased plaque.
2. Amalaki is a Superior Antioxidant
Each of the six tastes of amalaki represents its many unique bio-active constituents. These include gallic acid, ellagic acid, emblicanin A + B, phyllemblin, quercetin, and ascorbic acid—all of which exhibit antioxidant activity. In another study, two of the antioxidant constituents in amalaki (vitamins C and E) significantly outperformed the antioxidant profiles of both wheat grass and spirulina.
The broad spectrum of antioxidants in the amalaki berry is part of what gives it such a broad range of benefits.
3. Amalaki Supports Soothing Occasional Heartburn
Indigestion often occurs when the stomach does not empty its contents promptly. The intestines may be slow to move contents through the small intestine into the large intestine, causing issues like heartburn. In one study, amalaki was shown to support normal stomach emptying. It also supported healthy intestinal motility (the rate at which food moves through the small intestine). Amalaki also helped healthy levels of digestive hormones like motilin (which supports downward digestive movement) and gastrin (which supports healthy digestion in the stomach). The study concluded that amalaki is an effective tool against occasional bouts of indigestion.
4. Amalaki Supports Healthy Arteries
In a randomized, placebo-controlled study over 18 weeks, 500mg of amalaki powder was given to 15 healthy adults each day. Their results were compared to a group that received a placebo. The group that took amalaki showed significantly reduced oxidative stress in their circulating blood. Blood flow, viscosity, and fluidity were better in the amalaki group, and there was a positive shift in HDL and LDL cholesterol. The study concluded that amalaki supported the healthy function of the endothelium (the membrane that lines the inside of arteries).
5. Amalaki Supports Healthy Skin
The skin, or epithelium, acts as a crucial protective barrier on the inside and outside of the body. The look, feel, glow, and elasticity of the outer skin is a billion-dollar industry… However, little attention is given to the inner skin that lines the respiratory and intestinal tracks. In Ayurveda, herbs are used to support the function and integrity of both the inner and outer layers of the skin. You may be familiar with collagen as an important part of skin function. Amalaki supports healthy, vibrant skin by providing an anti-collagenase effect. This means it blocks the breakdown of collagen, the primary protein responsible for skin elasticity of both the inner and outer skin.
6. Amalaki Supports Hair Health
Amalaki is a prized plant for hair health around the world. One of the main causes of poor hair health and hair falling out is the buildup of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in the follicles. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone production from an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. A handful of plants act as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, which block the production of DHT and support the growth of healthy hair. Amalaki was studied to be one of the more powerful herbs that act as a DHT blocker. No wonder amalaki has been used for thousands of years as an Ayurvedic hair health support, both topically and internally!
7. Amalaki Supports Eye Health + Vision
The eyes are one of the body’s greatest consumers of energy. As we age, it becomes more difficult for the body to deliver the energy to the eyes needed for long-term eye health and function. Studies have found that amalaki supports the healthy production of cellular energy. It supports ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production in the mitochondria of the cells by improving cellular and mitochondrial health. These studies concluded that amalaki could provide cytoprotective support for the long-term function and health of the eyes.
8. Amalaki Boosts Immunity
A single amalaki berry contains 600-800% of the Recommended Daily Value of vitamin C. Vitamin C is always a go-to supplement when sickness strikes. There is no shortage of studies linking vitamin C to a stronger immune system. Taking amalaki year-round provides immune support in any season, primarily by supporting the environment of the gut and respiratory tracts, where most of the body’s immune system is located.
9. Amalaki Supports a Healthy Microbiome and Gut Immunity
Studies on Holstein cows showed that when they added amalaki to the feed for the calves, there was a significant boost in beneficial bacteria. The calves fed amalaki had a healthier ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes bacterium than calves not fed amalaki powder. This ratio is important essential for homeostasis in the microbiome. The study concluded that the increase in these beneficial bacteria caused a boost in the gut and overall immunity. Another study from 2022 backs up these findings; researchers saw an increased abundance of useful bacteria in the gut, alongside a decrease in harmful bacteria.
10. Amalaki Balances Vata
The vitamin C in Amalaki has been shown to protect the body’s fat-soluble vitamin E from breaking down or going rancid. In fact, the vitamin C found in citrus fruits like amalaki was shown to actually reconstitute fats that had gone rancid. In Ayurveda, fats are the nutrients that balance vata. Fat keeps the nervous system calm, the sleep deep, and the inner and outer skin supple… all while protecting us from unnecessary aging. The three tastes that balance vata are sweet, sour, and salt. We all know that sweet and salty tastes are what we are drawn to as comfort foods. They calm our nervous system, which is governed by vata. The sour flavors from lemons, limes, and amalaki are key vata-balancing factors; they protect the molecular structure of the fats that actually do the vata balancing in the body.