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AYURVEDA   |   ESSAYS ON AYURVEDA

20: The Herb That Dripped from A Goddesses Eyes

DR.GEORGE EASSEY

AMALAKI - the fruit in which dwells the goddess of prosperity

Amalaki (Emblica officinalis, sometimes also called Emblic myrobalan), is a tree bearing small leaves and juicy fruits of green colour about the same size as a cherry. Its fruit has a mildly sour and cooling taste. In Sanskrit, ‘Amalaki’ means ‘the fruit in which dwells the goddess of prosperity.’ The fruit has unusually nutritious and sattvik qualities and the herb therefore is traditionally considered a symbol of Mother Earth. The tree has yet another name - ‘Dhatri’, meaning ‘earth’ or ‘the nursing mother’. In Indian folklore, it is recommended that the fruit be used by mothers whose children misbehave, because Dhatri has a calming effect and awakens the feeling of love.

An ancient legend describes that the tree grew from the tears of two goddesses, Lakshmi and Parvati, who wished to find a new way to worship their own husbands, Vishnu and Shiva. Therefore the tree is to this day considered sacred and its leaves are used in ritualistic offerings to these two goddesses.

According to Ayurveda, Amalaki rejuvenates cells of the body and its tissues, increases the red cell count, acts as a cardiac tonic and cleanses the digestive tract. Therefore the use of the fruits have wide ranging abilities. It can be used in the healing of all Pitta diseases, cases of inflammation, bleeding, chronic diseases of the digestive tract, anaemia, the excessive gall bladder secretion, stomach colic, indigestion, fevers, acidity of the stomach, haemorrhoids, premature greying of the hair, the inflammation and bleeding of the lips, weakness of the liver, hepatitis, mental disorders, osteoporosis, tissue insufficiency, an increased level of blood sugar, etc. The fruit of Amalaki is the richest source of natural vitamin C as it holds twice as more vitamin C than orange juice. One small fruit of Amalaki has the same ascorbic value as 1-2 oranges. This is why Ayurveda recommends using a tonic from the fruit of Amalaki especially in the autumn and winter months. The tonic is called ‘Chavanaprash’ and is one of the most popular rejuvenating, strengthening and regenerative Ayurvedic preparations. However, in the summer months it is recommended to drink the juice of fresh Amalaki fruit, because of its cooling effect. It calms Pitta, is a perfect tonic for the liver and helps to expel toxins through urination.

An ancient legend describes that the tree grew from the tears of two goddesses, Lakshmi and Parvati, who wished to find a new way to worship their own husbands, Vishnu and Shiva. Therefore the tree is to this day considered sacred and its leaves are used in ritualistic offerings to these two goddesses.

The fruit can be used not only in a fresh state but also dried without losing its efficacy. Amalaki usually arrives to the western market in the form of a dried fine powder. The taste is very sour. In this form, together with two other important fruits, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, Amalaki constitutes the basis for many Ayurvedic medicinal compounds. A combination of these three fruits constitutes another well known Ayurvedic medicine, Triphala. This is a highly effective tonic for the digestive tract; it corrects the intestinal function and is used in indigestion and constipation.

Modern scientific studies of Amalaki gradually confirm its extraordinary healing qualities, which have already been mentioned in great detail in the classical texts. Amalaki is very beneficial for the overall strengthening of the immune system and has antiviral and antibacterial qualities which make the herb an effective medicine against the Bacteria ‘Staphylococcus aureus’ and ‘Escherichia coli’. Its usage helps in common colds, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, coughs and tuberculosis. It activates an adrenaline reaction and works as an antispasmodic against cramps. Studies still continue and the former given list of Amalaki´s beneficial effects has not in the least been exhausted. 

Another way of traditional usage of Amalaki is herbal hair oil. It nourishes and strengthens weakening hair, stimulates growth and halts premature greying and hair loss. For a modern European, the application of oil onto the hair may seem strange at first and maybe even a little bothersome, but the positive outcomes of this practice are obvious. Good quality oil is far more beneficial than any other forms of conditioner. The application of oil has positive effects not only on the hair, but also on the nervous system and it decreases Vata. This results in an overall feeling of calmness and relaxation.


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AYURVEDA DOCTOR & WRITER

DR.GEORGE EASSEY

Titled as “Roving Ambassador of Ayurveda”, belongs to the first generation of Ayurvedic practitioners and teachers who have pioneered the way for Ayurveda's recognition as a mainstream system of medicine.

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