Ayurvedic Herbs: Amalaki

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Ayurvedic Herbs

Ayurvedic herbs are one of the many chikitsas or treatments used in Ayurvedic medicine. These herbs are used as part of an herbal protocol recommended by an Ayurvedic professional. Thusly, all the Ayurvedic herbs should not be self-administered and Ayurvedic herbs should only be taken under-advisement of your Ayurvedic Counselor/Practitioner/Doctor and approved by your Primary Care Physician. The information on the Ayurvedic herb of Amalaki is only meant to educate you on the ways in which it is traditionally used in Ayurveda and is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a qualified, licensed medical professional. The facts presented are offered as information only, not medical advice, and in no way should anyone infer that we are practicing medicine. Seek the advice of a medical professional for proper application of this material to any specific situation. Do not use the information found within this post to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases. The information provided is not intended to prescribe or be taken as medical advice. If you have or suspect that you have a medical condition please contact your health care provider immediately.

The essence of all beings is Earth. The essence of Earth is Water. The essence of Water is plants. The essence of plants is the human being.

Esam bhutanam prthivi rasha, prthivya apo raso-pam osadhayo rasa, osadhinam puruso rasah.
— Chandogya Upanishad I.1.2

Amalaki

  • Latin Name: Emblica officinalis - Fructus

  • Plant Family: Euphorbiaceae

  • English Name: Indian gooseberry

  • Sanskrit Name: Amalaki - alma means “sour” or Dhatri - means “mother”

  • Part Used: fruit

  • Botanical Description: middle sized tree 8 to 10 meters high; bark is whitish and thin and its wood is strong and red; leaves are thin and small; flowers have stalks that are long and are small and yellow and flower in autumn; fruits are round and greenish yellow in color

  • Taste (Rasa): bitter, astringent, pungent, sweet, predominantly sour

  • Energetics (Virya): cooling

  • Post-Digestive Effect (Vipaka): sweet

  • Quality (Guna): light, dry

  • Dosha: VP- K+ (in excess); increases ojas

  • Tissues (Dhatu): all plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscle (mamsa), fat/adipose tissue (meda), bone (asthi), nerve/bone marrow (majja), reproductive tissue (shukra [male]/artava [female])

  • Systems (Srotamsi): circulatory (rakta vaha srotas), digestive (anna vaha srotas), excretory (purisha vaha srotas)

  • Constituents: organic acids (ascorbic acid aka Vitamin C, tannin); bioflavonoids (quercetin, kaempherol); polyphenols (gallic acid); cytokinins (zeatin)

  • Actions: nutritive tonic, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac, laxative, refrigerant, stomachic, astringent, hemostatic

  • Ayurvedic Actions: rejuvenative (rasayana); aphrodisiac (vajikarana); promotes energy (jivaniya); increases reproductive fluids (sukrala); increases sexual potency (vrsya); heart tonic (hrdaya); awakens digestion (dipaniya); purifies the blood (raktasodhana); nourishes rakta dhatu (raktavardhaka); cures bleeding diseases (raktapittahara); alleviates all three dosha (tridoshasaghna); hair tonic (kesya); destroys urinary diseases and diabetes (pramehaghna); tonic to the mind (medhya); corrects the flow of vata (anuloma); laxative (virechana); astringes and binds (stambhana); benefits the eyes (caksusya)

  • Biomedical Actions: antacid, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, alterative, adaptogen, digestive, laxative, hepatoprotective, astringent, haemostatic, antioxidant, cardiotonic, nutritive, ophthalmic, tonic, aphrodisiac

  • Indications: digestion, heart, metabolic disorders

  • Precautions: acute diarrhea, dysentery, high Kapha and Ama

  • Preparations: decoction, powder, confection

  • Formulations: chavanprash, bramharasayan, dhatriloha, amrutprash, amalaki rasayan, chandan amalaki chatan

Amalaki has a special affinity for the blood, bones, liver and heart. It is especially beneficial for Pitta prakruti (constitution) and vikruti (imbalances). Amalaki is a tonic for the body, mind and spirit and is the base for the Ayurvedic rejuvenative jam called Chavanprash.

References

Frawley D. Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press; 1999.

Frawley D, Lad V. The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press; 2001.

Gogte VM. Ayurvedic Pharmacology & Therapeutic Uses of Medicinal Plants: Dravyagunavignyam. New Delhi, India: Chaukhambha Publications; 2016.

Pole S. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Philadelphia, PA: Singing Dragon; 2013.