Amla has been eaten, or been made into tonics, pastes and oils for years, for issues that range from hair loss to autoimmune disorders.
Whether you choose to take it down as a shot in the AM to boost cell growth and immunity, or apply it to your strands as a pack, amla is a must-have for hair, particularly if you're looking to improve growth or scalp health.
“Amla or the Indian gooseberry contains lots of essential fatty acids that strengthen hair follicles, giving the hair strength and lustre,” states dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi. While it may be an Ayurvedic remedy to start with, it has found favour in modern haircare products too, becoming a key ingredient in shampoos, hair growth elixirs and oils.
1) Amla can boost hair growth
When applied topically, “the vitamins and minerals along with the phytonutrients present in amla increases the blood circulation in the scalp, which stimulates the hair growth," he says. Blood circulation ensures that the scalp gets all the essential nutrients and oxygen to be healthy. Plus, subcutaneous blood flow helps in the anagen phase of the hair, making them grow longer. He suggests applying a blend of amla powder and egg white to the roots of the hair for best results.
2) Amla can protect the hair from external damage
"The tannin and the calcium present in amla save the hair from any kind of photo-damage and heat damage and therefore healthier hair is promoted,” states Dr Chaturvedi. Tannins are phenolic compounds which easily bind to keratin proteins of the hair, preventing them from breaking down.
3) Amla can reduce hair loss
Just as amla can improve actual growth, topical application can actually reduce hair loss too. Research shows that that amla oil was a powerful inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase. The medication finasteride, which is used to treat male and female pattern baldness, also works by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase. This is particularly key for those with hormonal hair loss, due to PCOS or thyroid imbalances.
4) Amla can help balance a flaky scalp
“Vitamin C is the key ingredient for the synthesis of collagen, which serves as the building block for the hair,” explains Dr Chaturvedi. Vitamin C is also a great clarifying agent for the scalp which removes the chemical build up and layers of dirt and grime. When the scalp is clean, it is better able to absorb nourishing hair products.
Due to their clarifying action, amla hair packs also work as a scalp exfoliator. “Mix pure amla powder with curd, apply on the scalp, rinse off after 20 minutes. To make it more nourishing, it is recommended that an amla hair pack is used after you oil the hair," says cosmetic chemist and the founder of Daughter Earth, Prasanthy Gurugubelli. “There is no need to even shampoo as amla itself has cleansing properties, and when mixed with curd, it also conditions the hair. Amla hair packs have been found very effective in treating dandruff and other scalp concerns,” she says.
5) Amla oil serves as a conditioner
Amla oil is rich in Vitamin E, making it a great conditioner for the hair, leaving it soft and shiny while nixing frizz. “Plus, it works brilliantly to counter dryness in its oil form,” says Dr Chaturvedi. It is also said to reduce premature greying of the hair too. According to Ayurvedic principles, greying of the hair is said to be due to excess pitta in the body. Amla, as a natural coolant, is said to delay this process.