Are you struggling with limp, frizzy, and dull hair? Do you often notice split ends or premature greys that bother you? The truth remains that pollution, stress, chemically loaded hair styling products, and even hair dyes only aggravate these issues. Fortunately, 5000-year-old Indian Ayurvedic wisdom has a solution to these problems.
The answer lies in a miraculous little green fruit known as amla, amalaki, or Indian gooseberry. It's loaded with hair-healthy nutrients. Amla can work wonders for your tresses, giving them the shine and luster it deserves. Read on to discover how this little powerhouse can benefit your hair. Also, learn how to make it a part of your haircare regimen for healthy hair.
Amla: Ayurveda’s Wonder Fruit
A superior plant in Ayurveda_,_ Emblica officinalis or Amla, belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It has been synonymous with haircare for centuries. Regarded as keshya (a hair-benefitting herb), amla is a common ingredient in various haircare products, such as hair oils and hair masks, to name a few.
Amla contains active compounds, nutrients, and vitamins. It is nature’s answer to building ojas (a strong immunity), bodily detoxification, skin and tissue rejuvenation, and even longevity. It is also one of the few naturally occurring tridoshshamak plants, which means it contains properties that pacify all three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
As a treasure trove of nutrition, this wonder fruit contains five taste profiles — Madhur (sweet), Amla (sour), Tikta (bitter), Kashya (astringent), and Katu (pungent) — with predominant astringent and sour flavors. It helps in maintaining the optimal health of the body, hair, and mind. Amla is therefore considered a divine medicine (divyaushada).
Here are the many benefits of amla:
- Being rich in vitamin C, it supports overall immunity, the health of skin and blood vessels.
- With a high concentration of fibers, it is known to relieve constipation.
- It cleanses the liver as it has amino acids and antioxidants that flush out toxins from the body.
- Amla keeps the heart healthy with antioxidants that reduce the buildup of bad cholesterol.
- It also supports the respiratory system with its anti-inflammatory properties.
- The antioxidant, antiviral, and antifungal properties of amla boost thick and healthy hair.
- As a reservoir of vitamins C and A, polyphenols and flavonoids, it is a traditional medicine used to reduce fever.
- With its anti-inflammatory properties, amla maintains blood sugar levels, improves eyesight, and treats urinary tract infections.
- Fibers in this fruit increase the production of digestive juices, act as a laxative, and support digestion and food absorption.
- Amla strengthens the bones, nails, and teeth as it is rich in calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
- Its sattvic (pure and calm) nature keeps the mind and emotions calm.
Amla and Hair
The first chapter of the Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana states that “a perfect balance of the three doshas (Kapha, Vata, and Pitta) leads to health, and their imbalance leads to diseases." An individual's prakriti (harmonious state owing to balanced doshas) or vikriti (imbalanced doshas) can indicate one's hair health.
Certain Ayurvedic herbs help balance the tridoshas. Amongst them, amla has been a go-to herb for thousands of years. Here’s an overview of how it helps regulate dosha imbalances for healthy hair:
Those with a dominant and balanced Vata notice how quickly hair grows in a combination of straight strands and curls. A vitiated Vata can result in dull, dry, brittle, and frizzy locks, with the hair tending to fall out in clumps. In such instances, amla's sweet and sour properties help pacify the Vata and restore balance to hair.
The Pitta is responsible for the metabolic activity of the hair follicles. A balanced Pitta signifies soft and straight, moderately thick hair with very fine strands. Any imbalance results in premature thinning and palitya (greying of hair).
Moreover, excess Pitta tends to overheat hair follicles leading to inflammation in the hair shaft and khalitya (excess hair fall). In such cases, amla’s fiber content helps improve the metabolic rate of the hair follicles, thereby preventing premature greying. Also, tannins which lend amla its sweet and astringent combination act as a coolant and balance the fiery Pitta to prevent hair loss.
The Kapha is responsible for the lubrication and structure of the hair. A balanced and Kapha-dominant individual has hair that is full-bodied, wavy, thick, and lustrous. An imbalance can result in an oily or itchy scalp, dandruff, and sticky hair. Amla’s astringency and pungency mitigate the Kapha dosha.
Amla’s Benefits for Hair
- Stimulates hair growth: Rich in iron, amla is also a powerhouse of elements such as gallic acid, carotene, and ellagic. These work together to improve blood circulation to the scalp and stimulate hair growth. Amla also facilitates the absorption of calcium in the body, which, in turn, encourages hair growth. It can also fight off free radicals and oxidative stress on the scalp, promoting healthy, luscious tresses.
- Prevents hair loss: Amla contains a potent inhibitor of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that triggers hair loss. The alkaloids, flavonoids, and amino acids stimulate blood circulation and prevent hormonal hair loss owing to thyroid imbalances of PCOS. By reducing hair loss, amla also aids in the improvement of hair thickness and volume.
- Fights scalp inflammation and dandruff: Amla contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps absorb extra oil on the scalp while fighting fungal infections, itching, and dandruff. Your scalp will breathe free and easy in no time when the pH levels are in balance.
- Helps kill lice: According to a study, adding a spoonful of amla to water and using it as a hair rinse can help reduce an infestation of lice on the scalp. One study also compared a shampoo with amla extracts to commercial shampoos and found it more effective.
- Prevents premature greying: Amla’s abundant vitamin C concentration helps oxidize melanin in the hair follicle. Melanin prevents the premature greying of hair at a young age.
- Moisturizes and clarifies scalp: The presence of vitamin C increases the synthesis of collagen, which serves as a building block for the hair. Vitamin C is also a great clarifying agent. It prevents the build-up of dirt and grime caused by external factors such as pollution and dust. A clean scalp absorbs nourishment better.
- Protects from external damage: Amla contains significant proportions of tannin (compounds bound to keratin proteins) and calcium. These elements help protect the hair from photodamage and heat damage.
- Acts as a conditioner: A rich source of vitamin E, amla leaves hair strong and shiny with regular application. It also eliminates frizz and counters dryness when used as an oil or taila.
READ MORE: Seven Ayurvedic Herbs For Strong And Healthy Hair
Ways to Use Amla
When it comes to combatting hair woes, there is no better cure than the Indian gooseberry. This powerhouse fruit can be used and consumed in a multitude of ways:
- Consume fresh amla : Having one amla a day on an empty stomach or adding it to your daily fruit juice can help combat severe hair fall and boost immunity.
- Consume in tablet form or as a churna: It's made of ground-up leaves of the Indian gooseberry. The tablet or churna can give a healthier scalp and luscious locks owing to its cooling and soothing properties. Consumption in this form also promotes overall good health and well-being of the joints, bones, teeth, and heart.
- Apply as a hair oil: An amla oil hair massage can support the growth of dandruff-free, lustrous, strong, and shiny hair. Combined with ingredients such as bhringaraj, brahmi, or even hibiscus, it can work wonders for scalp and hair health. Massage the oil regularly to strengthen your hair fibers and follicles.
- Add amla to a hair mask: Adding a small teaspoon of amla to your hair mask can help cleanse the hair and scalp. It offers long-term benefits, such as strong roots and shiny, lustrous hair.
- Use as a hair cleanser: Keeping your hair free of dandruff, dirt, or grime requires a powerful cleanser. You can use a combination of amla, shikakai, and reetha to clean your scalp daily.
- Use as a hair rinse: Using amla as a hair rinse is a great way to supply essential antioxidants and proteins to your hair.
Did you know that 100 grams of raw amla contains 478 mg of vitamin C? Compare this to lemon, which offers 77 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Amla offers over 30 percent more vitamins than oranges as well.
The curative berry is known for its myriad benefits, such as boosting immunity and heart health, defending against free radicals, and slowing premature aging. In some cases, amla also helps fight certain systemic health conditions while reducing cellular damage.
This rejuvenating, adaptogenic herb is normally safe for people with all kinds of doshas. It pacifies the Vata by its sour taste, the Pitta by its sweet taste and cold energy, and the Kapha by its astringent taste and dry nature. Thus, it calms all three doshas. Consider making it a part of your daily routine, whether in the form of a tablet, churna, hair mask, or hair oil.
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