Continuing our discussion on the topic of “Rasayana”, here I would like to share with you some useful information about a wonderful fruit called Amala or Amalki, known as Indian gooseberry in English, with its botanical name being Emblica officinalis.
Amala is a Sanskrit word, which is a combination of two words, i.e. “A” and “Mala”. Mala means dirt, contamination, toxins, etc. and the prefix “A” means “without”. Therefore, “Amala” means something which is without any contamination or toxins.
The evidence of Amala being toxin free is – it remains pure and the vitamin C content in it is not reduced at all even if this fruit is dried, cooked and even if is stored in a dry or cooked form for long periods of time.
Amala is a unique food item which can be either cooked as a vegetable with other vegetables/lentils, etc. or taken as a fruit/juice mixed with other fruits/juices, without causing any confusion in the digestive system.
Normally, according to Ayurveda, vegetables and fruits should not be mixed together while cooking and eating, otherwise they can cause some disturbance in the digestive system, as different digestive enzymes are required for digesting vegetables compared to those required for digesting fruits.
Ayurveda divides food items in six categories according to the six main tastes, i.e. sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Amala is such a unique fruit that it contains 5 of the six tastes, i.e. sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent.
Quality wise, Amala is cooling and therefore a bit heavy to digest. Potency wise, it is calming and soothing. Due to its post digestive effect on our systems, Amala helps us sustain the energy derived from it and from other food items.
Due to its quality of enabling us to sustain energy, Amala is also called “Dahtri” which means earth, mother, nurse; one who holds, sustains, who nurtures us and preserves & protects our health. Another name of Amala is “Amruta”, which means “nectar”. Because Amala helps to remove toxins from our bodies, it has a nectarean effect on our health.
Amala can balance all the three doshas, i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
How? Due to its sour taste, Amala pacifies aggravated Vata; with its sweet taste and cooling effect, it helps to reduce excessive Pitta; and because of its pungent, bitter and astringent taste, it has slightly heaty and drying effect as well, due to which it helps to remove excess mucus from our bodies. Therefore, Amala is called “Tridosh har”, which means it balances all the three doshas.
How to consume Amala:
- The best way is to mix 1 tablespoon of fresh Amala juice with 1 tablespoon raw honey and drink it. To avoid its cooling effect and to digest it easily, 2 pinches of black pepper powder can be added to this mixture.
- Or, one can mix fresh Amala with vegetables, lentils and soups and cook it.
When to consume it?
Since it has a balancing effect on all three doshas, Amala can be taken any time of the year and at any time of the day.
Amala can help to rectify urinary disorders and improve health of skin due to its purifying effect on the blood tissue. Due to its sweet taste, it helps to increase appetite. And it enhances the interest/desire (Ruchi) to eat by producing more saliva in the mouth due to its sour taste. Additionally, Amala can help to reduce acidity, reflux, rashes, eczema, etc. due to its cooling & soothing effect; and it can reduce cough & cold due to its drying and warming effect because of its bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.
Amala is also called “Vrushya” in Ayurveda, which means it can increase the vital fluid in the body – cervical fluid in women and semen in men. Therefore, it can be successfully used to treat fertility issues in men and women.
Specific ways and timings for consuming Amala:
A) For balancing Vata (Air element): The best time to consume Amala for balancing Vata disorder is between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm in general (depending on the season), when Vata has a strong influence on our systems.
Mix 100 gram of dry Amala powder with 100 ml cold pressed virgin coconut oil in hot weather and cold pressed white/black sesame oil in cold weather and store it in an air tight glass bottle in a refrigerator. Take 1 – 2 teaspoons of this mixture in the afternoon, followed by a little hot water. Hot water generally facilitates the digestion of oil.
B) For pacifying and balancing Pitta (Fire element) : The best time to take Amala for pacifying and balancing aggravated Pitta is, in general (depending on the season), between 10:00 am & 2:00 pm, when Pitta is strong in the environment, and also 48 minutes before going to bed (around 10:00/10:30 pm). How to take it?
- Mix 1 tablespoon of fresh Amala juice with 1 tablespoon pure raw honey and lick this mixture.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of dry Amala powder with 1 – 2 teaspoons of fresh butter or ghee (clarified butter) and consume this mixture, followed by a few sips of hot water to digest it easily. If butter or ghee is not available, then virgin coconut oil can be used.
- At night, take Amala and butter/ghee mixture followed by a glass of hot fresh cow’s milk. If you cannot digest milk due to lactose intolerance, then just have a few sips of hot water (maximum 50 ml).
- Mix 100 gram dry Amala powder,10 gram green cardamom seeds powder and 100 gram pure cow’s ghee (clarified butter) and store it in an airtight glass bottle in a fridge. Take 1 – 2 teaspoons of this mixture in the morning before breakfast, or one hour after breakfast, followed by a cup of hot herbal tea (e.g. green tea) or a little plain hot water (maximum 50 ml).
- If Pitta is excessively aggravated, then soak 1 teaspoon of dry Amala powder in about 100 ml drinking water, in an earthen/chinaware/glass bowl and keep it covered overnight. Next morning, drink this water after mixing the powder well, half an hour before breakfast or one hour after breakfast.
C) For balancing Kapha dosha (Water & Earth elements) : Usually, 6:00 am to 10:00 am (depending on the season) is Kapha period. Therefore, Amala should be taken during this period to remove excess kapha (mucus) from the body.
The best and easiest way to take it is to mix 1 teaspoon of Amala with 1 tablespoon pure raw honey and take this mixture, followed by a little lukewarm water. If honey is not available, then just mix 1 teaspoon of dry Amala powder in about 100 ml warm water and drink it.
If there are symptoms of cough and cold due to excessive kapha, then add 1 – 2 pinches of black pepper powder into the above concoctions.
Ayurveda says – Amala is one of the best “vayasthapaka”, which means anti-aging fruit. There are many more precise and specific recipes/formulas given in Ayurveda which can be administered as per the need of the individual.
In short, Amala is a unique fruit which can be used in many ways as a curative, preventive and also as a general tonic for rejuvenating and for an anti-aging effect on our whole bodies at the physical, emotional and mental levels.