"Embilica Officinalis, a fine sounding Latin name, is more easily known as the Indian Gooseberry or Amla Berry. Unlike the small, green, astringent gooseberries that grow on bushes in Europe these are the fruit of a tree, which can grow as high as eighteen metres. They are found in Issan and similar areas that are less tropical than the lush South. The berries grow in clumps; they are light green to yellowish pink in colour. You will find a fibrous interior whilst the taste is sour to bitter. They resemble the Tamarind and have the name Manila Tamarind in the Philippines.
In Hindustan, which in historical terms is that area of India lying between the Himalayas and the Vindayas, with Delhi as the capital and the Ganges as the main artery; the Amla is considered sacred to the Goddess Lakshmi. Not only is she the consort of the Hindu God Vishnu she is also the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. If you have an Amala tree on your land this is considered to be extremely lucky. Not only will this bring you wealth but it is said to protect the householders from all kinds of misery and money related dilemmas. If you are unfortunate enough to be without a tree, eating the fruit is likely to bring you many benefits, too!
The berries provide an excellent source of natural vitamin C. Unfortunately most of the so called vitamin C on the market is synthetic, ascorbic acid. It is made in a laboratory; it’s popular because it is cheap. A sad fact of life is you get what you pay for. Synthetic vitamin C serves a purpose but lacks the vital spark of life which stands in its way of making a truly effective anti-oxidant. Amla contains twenty times more vitamin C by weight than oranges. This is why it is labeled a super food.
In 1988 the “International Journal of Cardiology” compared three Indian botanicals; these were tested on rabbits. The Indian Gooseberry was one of those natural extracts... All three were found to lower cholesterol. A later Japanese study confirmed these findings. Amla is a favoured ayurvedic medicine. The dried powder or a tincture administered in doses of approximately 30 mg per kilo of body weight was found to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels. Admittedly, we are not rats, but the study suggests if it is good for rats, it’s also good for humans. Wouldn’t it be a lot better to take a couple of grams of quality vitamin C on a daily basis than embark on a course of treatment involving the Statin drugs which your doctor is so keen on prescribing? Statins have significant side effects. Aside from constipation, skin rashes and insomnia; if you read the warnings on the leaflets that accompany the medication; you will see cautions about memory loss, mental confusion and the possibility of diabetes. They don’t mention the other hidden drawbacks like loss of libido, liver damage and even heart attack, something the statins are supposedly protecting us from!
Other studies have shown that Makam Pom has had a positive effect on kidney disease by improving creatinine and urea nitrogen levels whilst reducing blood pressure. Vitamins, minerals and other natural products take time to become truly effective. This slow approach requires patience. However, you will most certainly see an improvement if you give them at least 90 days to be truly effective.
In Thailand, Amla powder is also used in cosmetics. One product combines Makam Pom and Rice bran oil. It is designed to removes dead skin scales and improve the overall complexion. Another using Amla and Samor Thai promotes luxuriant hair growth. It has also been shown to reverse male pattern baldness. That makes sense because of the high anti-oxidant levels and excellent tannins found in the formula. Recently, another manufacturer launched a range of natural soaps and cleansers. Amla is found in the “Body Wash”. If you would like help in sourcing any of these things, simply use the website link to make contact. "
This article first appeared in "The Southern Times", edition # 1 on 6th October 2012