The Benefits of Amalaki

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

amalakiAmalaki 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.

The Ayurveda Diet: Eating for Your Body Type

By Kulreet Chaudhary, MD

Added to Articles on Tue 02/28/2012

Ayurveda is the ancient medical system of India. It offers one of the fastest paths to health. Instead of having to guess which foods, supplements, and behaviors are appropriate for you, there is a simple, direct prescriptive path that is developed for your unique body type, or dosha. This takes all the guesswork out of getting healthy. The benefits that occur are not only felt in your body – they are also seen in your mental and emotional wellbeing. This holistic approach to health allows you to become a balanced, vital, happy person with the least amount of effort. Ayurveda is an ancient solution to our modern-day problems that need quick, effective solutions.

The three ayurvedic body types, or doshas, are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each dosha has a unique set of characteristics. There are several ways to determine your body type. The most accurate is through the detailed history and physical by an ayurvedic physician. However, even taking a quick ayurvedic quiz will provide you with tremendous insight into your principal dosha. Most people are a combination of two doshas, but one typically predominates.
To find out your dominant dosha, take this dosha quiz. Once you have determined your dosha, read the dietary recommendations for your body type.

The Kapha Dosha
Kapha is typically the largest of the body types. Physically, they have wide hips/shoulders; thick wavy hair; good physical stamina. Mentally, Kapha types tend to me slow to learn, but they have great memories. Emotionally, they tend to be very loyal, stable, and reliable – they are often referred to as the “rocks” in a relationship.

Out of balance, Kapha individuals have a tendency towards sinus congestion, poor circulation, and sluggish digestion that can easily lead to obesity. To combat the congestion, Kapha types can add garlic to their diet or take garlic supplements. To help improve circulation, they can do a stimulating dry body massage, called garshana, performed with raw silk gloves – you can use a loofah sponge as a substitute. The massage helps get rid of excess water weight and is a natural cure for cellulite. To help boost metabolism, Kapha individuals can use the herbal supplement guggul, which is a plant that is closely related to myrrh. The dose of guggul is typically 75mg-150mg a day. Exercise is also critical to keep Kapha people in balance; if you have a Kapha body type, you have to get up and move!

From a diet standpoint, Kapha people should reduce oil/fats, sweets and salt as much as possible due to their sluggish digestion. Instead, they should focus on cooking with lots of spices, eating large amount of vegetables, and high fiber foods such as legumes.

Click here for a Kasha body type meal plan. 

Click here for a steamed vegetable dish that is best suited for the Kasha body type. 

The Pitta Dosha 
Pitta individuals are typically of medium build. Physically, they have good muscle tone; have a tendency to always feel warm; have premature graying hair or balding; have reddish complexions; enjoy high energy levels; and have really strong digestion – they can eat almost anything. Mentally, they are extremely intelligent, focused, ambitious people. Emotionally, they are passionate about life, have a tendency to be perfectionists, and can become easily irritated.

Out of balance, Pitta types can experience excessive anger, suffer from inflammatory conditions (such as headaches and rashes), encounter digestive problems (such as acid reflux, diarrhea and ulcers), and become over-stressed, workaholics. To help with the inflammation, Pitta individuals can do a quick coconut oil massage to the scalp and feet for 5 minutes before getting into the shower. To prevent the digestive problems, they can drink a mixture of a quarter-cup of aloe vera juice with a half-cup of pomegranate juice in the morning on an empty stomach. To help take the “edge off” at work and fight off stress in these worker bees, they should eat a teaspoon of rose petal jam – it can be taken alone or with toast. The rose petal jam is sweet and calming.

In terms of their diet, Pitta people should avoid hot spices, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes. Of course, these are typically their favorite foods! They should eat sweet juicy fruits such as mangos and melons. They should also include lots of cooling vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers, kale and lettuce, in their diet.

Click here for a Pitta body type meal plan.

Click here for a creamy green soup and salad dish best suited for the Pitta body type.

The Vata Dosha
The third dosha, Vata, tends to be the most slender of the three body types. Vata people can actually find it difficult to gain weight. Physically, Vata individuals are thin with prominent bony structures; tend to be cold all the time; have dry skin and hair; and have little muscle tone. Mentally, they learn fast and forget fast, enjoy change, and are very creative. Emotionally, Vata types are excitable, enthusiastic, but can become easily anxious.

Out of balance, Vata individuals can have poor digestion with lots of bloating and constipation. They can have dry nasal passages and easily catch colds during the fall and winter. They can also easily develop insomnia and fatigue. To help with the digestion, there is an herbal supplement, Triphala, which is a lifesaver for people with a Vata imbalance. To prevent dry nasal passages and fight off colds, Vata individuals can use a sesame oil nasal spray – you just spray 1-2 sprays in each nostril in the mornings. To fight off insomnia, a regular routine is critical, which, of course, Vata individuals tend to resist. Nonetheless, they should be waking up at the same time, eating lunch at the same time, and going to bed at the same time. Additionally, Vata types will benefit from a warm, spiced milk drink at bedtime.

The dietary recommendations for Vata individuals are to avoid dry/crunchy foods, carbonated beverages, and cold/raw vegetables. Their ideal diet consists of warm, cooked, soupy foods; cooked cereals; nuts; cooked vegetables; and hot milk. Also, ghee, which is clarified butter, is particularly good for Vata individuals.

Click here for a Vata body type meal plan.

Click here for a stew made with a blend of spices, yellow lentils, basmati rice and vegetables, which is best suited for the Vata body type.

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