Amla: A rasayana having five tastes

Introduction

True healing requires detoxification of both the mind and the body. To achieve this, the best remedy is to have a natural body detox food that supports our physical as well mental health. One of such most striking herb in ayurveda with nutrient rich ability which helps in detoxifying the body and has many other miraculous benefits, is Amla. There are more a lot coming up in the series #SacredIndianHerbs, with a hope that you would be able to utilize and benefit from them. Happy reading !

Scientific name: Emblica officinalis
English name: Emblic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry
Hindi name: Amalaki

Amla is a powerhouse herb that grows throughout India bearing gooseberry like fruits. The fruits are fleshy, globe shaped and sour-tasting. They are green when immature and turns into yellowish-green when ripe. The flowering season is from February to May and the fruit-bearing season is from October to April. The entire Indian society is aware of this salutary plant and is considered sacred in Hinduism. It is also worshipped on the occasion of Dussehra.

Amla: A must have for everyone

The nature has given us 6 tastes/ras that is sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. According to Ayurveda, an ideal diet incorporates all these six tastes to maintain balanced nutrition and good health. Each taste has elements affecting Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha. So when our doshas are imbalanced, having all types of ras can help us repair this imbalance. Amla is such a rare fruit that constitutes all the 5 tastes, except salty. The fruit is very sour when we bite it. However, it becomes sweet after mixing with our saliva, giving us the evidence of its sweet taste. The more types of ras in a herb, the more it gets beneficial. Thus, that is why amla is also called as Amrit phal and is known as tridoshic, which means it helps to pacify all the three doshas in the body. Therefore, everyone can consume amla in all weather conditions and is beneficial for all body types. This is what makes it a divine plant.

The best vitamin ‘C’ berry

Amla is considered as the nature’s most powerful resource of vitamin C for its ability to keep it intact and help us to derive various health benefits from it. Since vitamin c is one of the least stable of all vitamins in solution and is oxidized readily in light, air and when heated. But for amla, we should not doubt on the nature’s intelligence that has provided us with Emblicanin A and Emblicanin B in it. Emblicanins are a type of polyphenol found in amla and are known as analogue of vitamin c in scientific terms. They do not get destroyed by boiling, heating or exposing it into the sun rays. These compounds are 10 times beneficial than vitamin c for enhancing the immunity power and preventing us from the diseases. Thus considering the sour and bitter taste of amla, it may not be liked as raw by everyone. Therefore we can preferably consume it as murabba, candy, pickle, cooked up varieties and various versions or dried to make powder without losing its nutritional value.

Now, lets see what are the benefits of amla and how can we use it.

Amla: A health treasurer

From head to toe, amla has the ability to cure various diseases. Ayurveda scholar, Acharya Charaka mentioned in ‘Charaka Samhita’ that if the person post panchakarma procedures, is left in an orchid of amla trees and relates the routine activities with the amla such as sleeping under the amla tree, consuming amla. Then after 2 months the person would turn out to be healthy, disease free and disease resistance for a long time. Though this lifestyle seems impractical nowadays but we can surely make amla part of our routine and let it do wonders. Let us look at some of the prominent medical benefits of amla :

For skin / hair disorders: Due to super high vitamin C content in amla, the berries act as antioxidant which aids to protect the skin and cure various skin disorders. The vitamin c present in amla helps to keep the skin young and vibrant, thus acting as a perfect anti-aging formula. The five rasa present in amla pacifies all the kapha dosha and favors to unclog the pores and remove the dirt and impurities from the skin. Amla berries are prized in skin care and protects the skin from environmental stressors.

For cardiovascular diseases: Amla that acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents arterial occlusion as we age. The organic acids such as ascorbic acid, salicylic acid, tartaric acid, maleic acid are found in amla, makes the blood thin and we can prevent ourselves from consuming aspirin or other chemical blood thinners and preventing atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular disease.

For bones and nervous system: The vitamins and anti inflammatory properties present in amla helps to make bones strong and prevent from diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis. As a self sufficient rasayan, amla provides energy to the tendons and ligaments. Thus, by including these berries in diet, you can keep bones and joints healthy. Also amla is very good for the patients of nervine weakness and promotes proper functioning of the mind faculties.

For better digestion: Amla helps to flush out toxins from the body and provides energy to the digestive organs by instigating high digestive fire and strengthening the digestion process. Also, the adequate amount of fiber and roughage in amla aids to relieve constipation.

Season or no season

Fresh amla is available three to four months in a year but could be holistically preserved and used for all the twelve months singly or as formulation. The best ways are :

Amla dish: Fresh ripe amla adds up to various culinary dishes. Simply take amla, make it tender in pressure cooker and then cooked along with jeera, haldi, and spices as per your taste. It will be very effective to control digestive problems.

Amla murabba: The processed form of amla most commonly used is murabbas from. It is a great way of preserving amla for a longer period of time. It is readymade available in the market and homemade murabbas are inimitable. Since a large amount of sugar is added in murabba for preservation purpose, you should dip murabba in water before consuming it to eradicate some sugar with the process of osmosis.

Amla powder: Amla is dried and then grinded to make powder. 1 teaspoon of amla powder can be consumed daily with water or milk.

Amla pickle: Amla can also be preserved by making its pickle and is considered as one of the tastiest pickles. It is soaked in a fistful of hand pounded spices and is normally consumed as a side dish.

Chyawanprash: It is a delicious nutritive jam with amla as a chief ingredient that provides energy and immunity power to the people of all ages. It is often believed that chyawanprash should not be consumed during summers as it contain some herbs that are hot in potency. However, we can consume it all year long by just having it with lukewarm milk in summers.

Triphala: Triphala is a rejuvenating formula having combination of harad (chebulic myrobalan), baheda (beleric myrobalan) and amla (embolic myrobalan) all in equal parts. Triphala can also be known as sarvaroghar (the destroyer of all diseases) and is mainly popular to maintain a healthy digestive tract. It also benefits the lungs, skin and eyes and is a very effective detoxifier. Amla is an important major ingredient of triphala that in combination acts as cooling agent and supports the natural functions of the liver and the immune system.

Amalaki rasayan: Amalaki rasayana is an ayurvedic preparation having medicinal properties such as rejuvenation, antioxidation and immunomodulation. It is made by a process in which we dry and grind the amla to form powder. Later we dip the powder in amla juice and then let the mixture dry. The mixture is grounded to powder form and the same process is repeated for 6-7 times. The resultant powder formed will be rich in nutrition level and more powerful than the simple fruit. Amalaki rasayan can be consumed in 2.5-4 g of quantity two times a day along with water or milk.

Make use of self sufficient rasayana !

It is the time you should use amla and see how much it holds as a host of benefits that you are just about rediscovering. A miracle fruit that holds the place of pride in Ayurveda should be handled carefully to maintain its efficacy, purity and wondrous qualities that can be added to your diet for a healthy living.

Dr_vinod_pr_upadhyay

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Dr. Vinod Pr Upadhyay

B.Sc, BAMS, ND (Naturopathy & Yoga), Phd, FES, FIAES | Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics and Pharmacologist | Ex Principal at Himalaya Ayurvedic Medical College | Former Sr. Lecturer at Govt. Ayu. College, Gurukul Kangri

Haridwar

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