As a follow up to the previous introductory article on the Eastern Medicine practice of Ayurveda, we now focus on some the major botanicals that have been used for centuries to treat illness and prevent diseases in this scientific practice. This article highlights Amalaki (a.k.a. Amla, emblica officinalis, Indian Gooseberry), a fruit which grows at the base of the Himalayan Mountain range in Northern India and has perhaps the most well-documented history of any botanical within Ayurveda.
The 5000-year-old science of Ayurveda reveres many fruits for their health enhancement abilities, yet none are celebrated like Amalaki, a fruit which has been given its own holiday in India. The small, green fruit called Amalaki stands alone as the most important rejuvenating botanical, or ‘rasayana’, within the pharmacopeia of Ayurvedic Medicine. Amalaki, called “The Fruit of Immortality” and “The Great Rejuvenator” in Ayurvedic tradition, has been used for thousands of years to promote improved immunity, cellular detoxification and rejuvenation. Additionally, it is widely believed that Amalaki contains the most concentrated source of Vitamin C in nature. This is just the beginning of the benefits Amalaki possesses.
Ayurvedic literature documents Amalaki as having benefits in digestion, skin, hair and cellular rejuvenation, improved metabolism and anti-inflammation. The Ayurvedic scientific evidence for Amalaki has been substantiated throughout its history, and western science has taken notice. In the past four decades, numerous studies have been performed with Amalaki for improving cholesterol, as a cardio-protective agent, increasing bone density, anti-inflammation, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties to name just a few. Considerable research now exists on medical websites such as PUBMED.
The ancient tradition behind Amalaki and its growing popularity outside of Eastern Medicine leads to many questions, one in particular. What compounds does this fruit contain that make it worthy of bridging the gap in philosophy and practice between Eastern and Western Medicine?
The Amalaki fruit is the home to a unique combination of ingredients that explains its use for promoting health in various organ systems. Polyphenols (ellagic acid, gallic acid and emblicanin A & B), Bioflavanoids (Rutin, Quercetin) and Ascorbagens are the major components in Amalaki, whose uses we are just beginning to comprehend in the West. together are powerful free-radical scavengers which help the body reduce damage from oxidative stress, thereby supporting potent detoxification and cellular vitality. It is this unique spectrum of anti-oxidants that leads to the rejuvenating qualities and youth-promoting characteristics of Amalaki. In addition, there are high amounts of amino acids and trace elements in Amalaki, and the natural ascorbagens in the fruit make the Vitamin C more bioavailable than any synthetic form of the vitamin.
As a society, we are beginning to understand just how important of a role nutrition plays on our overall health and longevity. The most recent statistics on childhood obesity are a glaring example. Now more than ever, people are drawn to natural health food sources looking for alternatives that have scientific and clinical validity. It is my belief that as the attention on Ayurvedic Medicine has increased in the West, so has the evidence behind Amalaki and the other medicinal botanicals in this science. The pharmaceutical predominance in Allopathic Medicine is a likely contributor to the growing interest in holistic treatments and Eastern Medicine.
If you are searching for natural medicinal alternatives, Ayurveda provides a good starting point, and Amalaki, though difficult to obtain in the West, is becoming more available and worth investigating.
The next installment in this series will look at another Ayurvedic botanical, one that has caught the attention of the National Institute of Health in the United States and prompted studies that are currently ongoing.
To Living A Healthy Life,
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