Ayurvedic medicine frequently relies on amla paste. You may find the jelly-like product, which is processed from the amla fruit, in health food stores or online. People who have access to fresh amla from India sometimes make a medicinal paste from the raw fruit. Alternatively, amla paste refers to the product made at home, in which powdered amla is mixed with liquid. This version of amla paste is often used in beauty treatments. Do not ingest amla paste or use it topically without checking with your practitioner.
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The amla tree, Emblica officinalis, grows throughout India. Also known as the Indian gooseberry, greenish-yellow amla fruits are less than an inch in diameter, containing both stones and seeds. They grow on small deciduous trees which feature green or red peeling bark. Trees grow in both cultivated orchards and as wild crops.
Amla fruits are one of the richest sources of vitamin C available in the world. A 2010 study published in the "Nutrition Journal" determined that of 119 berries and fruits studied worldwide, amla had the highest concentration of antioxidants. The fruits and paste products also provide calcium, iron, phosphorous and amino acids.
Ayurvedic practitioners use amla paste to treat a number of maladies, including asthma, coughs, fevers, upset stomach and skin diseases. Sunita Pant Bansal's “The Healing Power of Foods” suggests applying amla paste to an aching head at the point of greatest pain. For anxiety, squeeze the juice from the pulp and mix 2 tsp. amla paste juice with 2 tsp. each honey and lime juice. Dilute this mixture in a cup of lukewarm water and drink each morning. A traditional Indian healing formula known as Chyawanprash is also a paste, and consists of amla and other botanicals. Check with your doctor before attempting any herbal self-treatment.
In India, some people combat graying hair as well as hair loss by making a paste from amla powder and coconut or sesame oil. The paste-like resulting product can be used as a leave-in treatment. Women also use the paste as an astringent mask to treat acne or oily skin. Ask your dermatologist or hairdresser about amla for these uses.
In Aruydervic medicine, one treatment might be used to treat a host of issues. In a massage treatment known as Siro Lepanam, for example, therapists massage their patient’s head, then apply a yogurt-based amla paste as a one-hour leave-in treatment. Siro Lepanam is said to treat gray hair, damaged or falling hair, insomnia, headaches and sinus infections. The amla paste treatment is also designed to increase patients’ sense of sight, smell and hearing.
Research on amla paste is limited in Western countries, especially when compared to conventional medications. Amla paste should not be use used in place of conventional medicines or medical care. Check with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your condition.