Monday, October 27, 2014

Ayurvedic Amla - Natural Skin and Hair Care


Today we're going to take a closer look at one of the unexpected surprises that recently appeared on my doorstep due to a mix-up in an order delivery. So far, it's been quite a pleasure getting to know this ingredient.  Although I am currently using it in powdered form, it originates as a fruit that is native to India.

Let's get acquainted with this bitter, green berry known as Amla.



Amla

Amla (or Amalaki i Sanskrit) is Indian for phyllanthis emblica. In English, this plant is known as Indian Gooseberry. Its INCI name is emblica officinalis. The officinalis part of the name indicates that this is a plant with a history of medicinal use. The Sanskrit name, Amlaki, translates to nurse.

Amla has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine.

If you study Ayurveda, you may already know that Amla is said to balance Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, helping to increase vitality and immunity. Amla is taken internally for the most part.

A closer look at this berry reveals antioxidant activity - which is beneficial both internally, and topically. Although sour in taste, this edible fruit is used to make tonic, jam, jellies, and even candies.


Looks Promising and Warrants Further Study

It is claimed that Amla is vitamin-C rich, but science has not (yet) been able to prove this. What is established is the antioxidant nature of Amla. This could be due to the vitamin C, but perhaps the content ellagitannins is a reason.

Preliminary testing shows that this plant is both antimicrobial and antiviral and even may be an aid at fighting arthritis and bone disease (link).

Taken internally, amla is said to fight inflammation, energize and strengthen hair, nails, and even teeth. As a mouth rinse, it is claimed to help soothe bleeding gums.

The medical world is looking at this berry in detail and there are some interesting indications that place amla as a possible active player in the prevention of cancer.


Amla for Skin

Amla has astringent properties, making it useful for skin tonics, cleansers, and masks. The C-vitamin content may well be why it is claimed to help 'brighten the complexion', cleanse and purify the skin.

Amla is recommended especially for dry, mature and dull skin.

Synergy: In combination with Burdock root, Damascus Rose, Tea tree, and/or Eucalyptus, Amlas properties are boosted.

The thought of rose and amla combined was enough to start me formulating a cleanser.


Amla for Hair

Applied to hair, Alma is claimed to nourish the scalp and help prevent not only hair loss, but premature greying. It is even praised as being the perfect ingredient to help the hair return to its original color.

I've heard a lot of claims about different natural ingredients in my time, but this one had my immediate attention. Amla hair-care products  are undoubtedly going to be made and tested on my 'salt and pepper' locks within the coming months.

Synergy: In combination with henna powders, brahmi (another ayurvedic powder we'll be looking at soon), amla is said to provide the ultimate hair-loving boost. Suggested synergetic essential oils include rosemary, grapefruit, cedarwood, and/or sage.



How to Use It

Powdered amla can be used in a variety of ways:
  • added to other powders and used as the dry base for a face mask, cleanser, or hair mask
  • made into an infusion (dissolved in water) and used as the water phase in a formula
  • made into an infusion (dissolved in water) and used directly as a rinse for hair
  • made into an oily maceration ('dissolved' in oil) and used as the oil phase in a formula
  • made into an oily maceration and used directly on the hair as a conditioner 

Coming Up

Infusions and dry mixes are both on my to-do list. I'll be sharing my experiences and a how-to or 2, and if everything turns out well, a recipe or 2 shall be posted as well.

Stay tuned!

More About Amla - Indian Gooseberry

Wikipedia
Amla - a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer
Drugs.com on Indian Gooseberry
Roles of Emblica Officianlis in medicine

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