Amla oil is a natural remedy prepared from the fruit of the Indian gooseberry tree, Phyllanthus emblica.
Though the Indian gooseberry tree is native to India, today it is also grown commercially in regions of the Middle East and Asia. While all parts of the amla tree are believed to hold medicinal benefits, amla fruits are very high in vitamin C, as well as several other antioxidants and nutrients.
Amla fruits have been eaten, or made into tonics and oils, for thousands of years and used both as a therapeutic and preventative medicine.
Fast facts on amla oil:
- Amla is a very important plant in the traditional Indian medicine system.
- Amla oil is normally directly applied to the hair and scalp, facial hair, or skin.
- In many parts of the world it's fairly easy to make amla oil at home.
Amla oil is made by soaking dried amla fruits in a type of oil for several days, often coconut, sesame, or mineral oil.
This encourages the fruit's own oils, full of the fruit's nutrients, to release themselves into the mixture. Before use the mixture is filtered and purified to remove the fruits.
Many health stores, natural pharmacies, and Indian grocery stores sell dried, fresh, or frozen amla fruits, as well as amla powders and juices.
Amla fruits are typically in season from October through March. Some health stores also sell amla products. And amla powders and formulas can be easily purchased online.
Making amla oil at home allows people to choose the potency and oil base, individualizing the dose, nutrients, and ultimately health benefits of the mixture. And there's several different ways to make amla oil, depending on its intended use or individual preferences.
How to make amla oil
Steps for making amla oil from fresh or dried amla fruits, or juice, at home include:
- Grate or blend 1 cup of dried, fresh, or frozen amla fruit or juice.
- Extract the juice of the amla fruits by squeezing and straining then through a sieve over a cup or bowl.
- Measure 1 tablespoon of oil. Many people use extra virgin oils, such as coconut, olive, or sesame, to ensure the base is as pure, and potent, as possible.
- Mix the amla fruit or powder and oil together for several minutes, or until the mixture looks uniform. Many people use a blender or whip the mixture.
- If using solid oils, heat the mixture on a very low heat until the oil has fully melted and mixed in.
- While the mixture is still slightly warm, apply the oil to the scalp for one or two hours, then rinse off. The mixture can also be left on overnight or until the next shower or bath. The mixture can also be applied to the skin and left on.
Steps for making amla oil from amla powder at home include:
- Combine 1 tablespoon of amla powder and 5 tablespoons oil in a pan.
- Heat the pan on the lowest possible setting and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to smell pleasant and lightly bubble.
- Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, ensuring the mixture doesn't boil.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pan.
- Allow the mixture to seep for at least 24 hours.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve or cloth into a jar or bottle.
- Apply the oil mixture to the scalp or body for as long as desired before washing off.
Most research suggests glass jars help natural oils stay fresh longer than plastic products do. Glass also has less of chance of reacting with the compounds in the mixture, changing their potency or effect. Most natural oils can be kept fresh for around one year if stored in a cool, dark place.
Amla oil is most commonly used to promote hair and scalp health, but amla oil has many other uses. Common uses of amla oil include:
- improve immune function
- lower or control cholesterol levels
- lower or control blood sugar levels
- improve brain health and function
- reduce the effects of premature aging
- improve vision
- reduce dry skin
- reduce dehydration
- lighten or brighten the skin
- improve respiratory function and coughs
- reduce cold and flu recovery time
- reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases
- improve blood pressure
- improve cardiovascular health
- reduce the appearance of scars, blemishes, age spots, and wrinkles
- improve vision and eye health
- reduces inflammation
- reduces sinus congestion
- improve digestion and food absorption
- enhances male fertility
- improve urinary health
Most of the reported health benefits of amla oil have not been scientifically proven.
But amla fruits are known to be high in powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that have very well established health benefits. Amla oils also contain additional nutrients and antioxidants associated with the type of oil used.
Common compounds and nutrients found in amla fruit and oil:
- vitamin C
- vitamin A
- amino acids (alanine, lysine, proline, aspartic acid, glutamic acid)
There are some studies that have specifically looked at the health benefits of amla oil. Most of the studies that do exist exploring the benefits of amla and amla oil did not use human subjects.
However, amla has been practically used and consumed by humans for thousands, even tens-of-thousands, of years. And amla is very important to several ancient medicine systems, whose teachings are now slowly being backed by scientific research.
A December 2017 study reconfirmed previous findings that the seven phenols found in amla oil fruits had anti-cancer properties. Another study from late 2017 found that hypothyroid female rats on a high-fat diet for 6 weeks reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. Many studies have also demonstrated amla may have anti-diabetic properties.
A 2016 study found that broiler chickens given even very low doses of amla extract had increased immune health and grew faster than chickens not given amla.
As with its other possible benefits, amla's hair health benefits are still being confirmed using modern-day science.
But amla is well established in ancient Eastern medicine, and widely used in many countries, to improve hair and scalp health.
Potential hair and scalp benefits of amla oil include:
- strengthen the scalp and hair
- reduce premature pigment loss from hair, or greying
- stimulate hair growth
- reduce hair loss
- prevent or treat dandruff and dry scalp
- prevent or treat parasitic hair and scalp infections, like lice infections
- prevent or treat fungal and bacterial hair and scalp infections
- improve overall appearance of hair
Amla oil is not commonly associated with any side effects. But in some rare cases, amla oil use has been reported to trigger Lichen planus pigmentosus (LPP), especially with UV exposure and in naturally darker skinned individuals. Amla oil is also known to rarely cause inflammation and skin irritation in some people.
More than a dozen studies have demonstrated the potential antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties of amla fruits and extracts. More recently, amla has been proposed as a replacement to conventional antibiotics used in food production.
Amla oil can be safely used for a wide variety of benefits, however it should not serve as a replacement for any medical treatment.