Amla oil is a commonly used therapeutic oil in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Amla is the Hindi term for the plant and fruit otherwise known as Indian gooseberry, and amla oil is typically produced by infusing coconut oil with fresh Indian gooseberries and refining the mixture. While the oil's benefits are well-documented in Ayurvedic texts, amla oil has been the subject of few scientifically valid clinical trials.
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Amla oil's most common use, according to the Tamil Nadu State Medicinal Plant Board, is as a hair tonic. The board asserts that it is one of the world's oldest natural hair conditioners, and that the dried fruit byproducts of the oil extraction process can be used in the formulation of natural shampoos. Pure amla oil can be applied directly to wet hair immediately after washing and worked through with the fingers, but amla oil is also an ingredient in some commercial hair conditioners, particularly those that are prepared using Ayurvedic recipes. In their book, "Yoga Therapy," V.K.Ahluwala and Krishan Kumar Suman recommend using alma oil to strengthen hair at the root, stimulate hair growth and restore dark pigmentation to gray hair. In addition to amla oil, amla juice and amla pulp are also used in various hair care preparations.
According to "Ayurvedic Massage: Traditional Indian Techniques for Balancing Body and Mind" by Harish Johari, amla oil is a commonly used massage oil, particularly within the realm of ayurvedic massage. Like all massage oils, it is an effective lubricant that provides the slip needed to avoid chafing of the skin. Special properties of amla oil in particular include the ability to nourish the skin through its rich vitamin C content and its pleasant smell, which may aid in relaxation. It is also cooling to the touch, which according to Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Michael Tierra's book "The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs," makes it especially helpful for massaging the scalp, temples, forehead and cheekbones.
The Tamil Nadu State Medicinal Plant Board indicates that amla is one of the key ingredients in triphala, an herbal blend of Ayurvedic ingredients that is administered as a natural laxative and used to treat flatulence and stomach upset. The book "Herbs that Heal: Natural Remedies for Good Health" by H. K. Bakhru, notes that amla oil by itself has mild laxative properties and can be used as an alternative to laxatives when taken in proper dilutions. Two or three drops of the concentrated oil stirred into an eight ounce glass of juice or milk may ease constipation and soften stool.