A staple of Indian Ayurvedic medicine, amalaki is a nutrient-rich fruit that has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. With the globalization of traditional health practices and products, highly nutritious "super foods," including amalaki, are being exported all over the world, often before thorough testing as to whether they are really safe to consume on a regular basis. With amalaki, there are no reports of toxicity or adverse effects, although some Ayurvedic practitioners warn it should not be taken by individuals with certain conditions, based on traditional use.
According to the Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center in Florida, Amalaki fruit is beneficial for a wide range of ailments including hemorrhoids, diabetes, hepatitis, sore throat and any kind of inflammation. Amalaki is one of the three ingredients in the tonic known as Triphala, which is meant to revitalize the entire body and ward off aging, sickness and death. Triphala is recommended to all people, from athletes to senior citizens, but the Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center warns that pregnant women and those suffering from high fevers or diarrhea should avoid its use.
Constituents of Amalaki
Amalaki is known for being one of the highest natural sources of vitamin C. In fact, a study published in the journal Scientia Horticulturae in June 1991 found that amalaki has 161 times more vitamin C than apples. Vitamin C is known for its wide range of benefits for the human system including fighting infections, cancer and inflammation. Unlike oil-soluble vitamins like E and A, vitamin C is water soluble, meaning that excess is easily secreted in urine and that toxic levels are so high that they are hard to ingest accidentally. Besides vitamin C, amalaki contains a host of other nutrients including antioxidants, amino acids and protein.
Besides being a very nutritious food and a natural source of vitamin C, amalaki has also been found to be beneficial in a number of health conditions in laboratory settings. In fact, a study conducted at the China Pharmaceutical University found that amalaki effectively inhibits the progression of atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease. Another study, at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in India, found that amalaki was able to protect cells from radiation-induced damage and acts as a potent scavenger of free radicals (compounds which damage cells).
Even though there are currently no serious warnings or contraindications associated with ingesting amalaki fruit, consumers should always exercise caution. Amalaki is sold and packaged as a dried powder, which may be adulterated with other constituents depending on the source. Amalaki is also highly acidic, like vitamin C itself, and may upset the digestive tract if taken on an empty stomach.