Amla For Strong, Shiny Locks: Hair Health Benefits

  • Irenosen AddehMaster of Science (MSc), Public Health, University of Debrecen, Hungary

Overview

Have you ever tried the bitter little berry known as amla, which magically leaves an extremely sweet aftertaste in your mouth? Well, you are in for a surprise when you learn about the powerhouse of nutrients this fruit provides. 

Amla, or Indian gooseberry, scientifically known as Phyllanthus emblica L., is native to India but is also commonly found in Southeast Asia, China, Pakistan, and Iran. It is known as the ancient healing fruit.1 Amla is a rich source of fibre, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and calcium, which provide many benefits to human health. 

The role of Amla in several traditional medicines in curing and preventing diseases has been documented since ancient times.2 Amla has considerable significance in the Indian traditional medicine Ayurveda because of its benefits in anxiety reduction, reducing burning sensation to skin and eyes, prevention of anaemia, maintaining good male reproductive health, aiding digestive health, liver health maintenance, and exerting a tonic effect in the cardiovascular system.1 Amla fruit is known for its antioxidant properties and is used in treating different diseases.2 

Have you ever had a bad hair day entirely to ruin your mood? It is widely known that you could directly reflect your overall health and well-being. Healthy and strong hair is like a free pass to having better self-esteem and confidence for most people. Poor hair health indicates that your body lacks specific essential vitamins and minerals and cannot process the available nutrients sufficiently. 

Nutritional profile of amla

Amla is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, C and E, and minerals such as calcium and iron.1 Other major nutritional components in amla include tannins, amino acids, fatty acids, proteins, alkaloids, gallic acid, fibre, and carbohydrates.2 

Its essential mineral and antioxidant-dense nature clarifies why amla is known as the healing fruit, as it has proven benefits in decreasing lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress while keeping reactive oxygen species at bay.2 Amla is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, cardioprotective and anti-cancer fruit, contributing to overall health and vitality.2 The composition of vitamin C or ascorbic acid and polyphenols contributes to amla’s antioxidant activity. 

Hair health benefits of amla

Amla is traditionally known to promote hair growth through hair follicle stimulation and increased blood circulation to the scalp. Incorporating amla into your haircare routine leads to visibly thicker, healthier, and stronger hair growth. According to Indian traditions, amla is also used to maintain dark hair colour and prevent premature greying. 

Hair loss prevention is also a critical advantage that can be attained through frequent use of amla, as it can strengthen hair follicles and reduce hair breakage and split ends. Finally, amla’s nourishing and conditioning properties can enhance hair texture, which also help improve hair's natural shine and lustre. 

Well, there is a scientific basis for why amla has these properties that can improve the overall outlook of your hair. 

Scientific evidence and studies

Several research findings on amla's impact on hair health include clinical trials on proprietary amla extract-based products and expert opinions and endorsements. 

A randomised controlled trial results published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology confirms amla syrup’s ability to treat androgenic hair loss (also known as androgenic alopecia) in women while boosting the anagen phase, which is when hair root cells divide at the most rapid rate to form new hair.3 The trial publication states that the ratio of anagen to telogen hairs was also increased in candidates treated with amla extracts. The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, and hair growth stops at this stage when hair stays attached to the follicle.

This means that amla has direct significance in not only treating and preventing severe hair loss alopecia by promoting healthy hair growth at a rapid rate. This is possible because of the high total phenols, flavonoid and gallic acid content that improves blood circulation in the scalp and better blood circulation ensures that sufficient nutrients and oxygen reach the scalp, ultimately aiding in hair growth.3 

Another clinical study indicates amla’s ability to selectively inhibit the activity of 5α-reductase, which catalyses the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that combines with an androgenic receptor to form a conjugate that essentially results in hair-follicle miniaturisation and conversion to telogen phase.4 Therefore, by inhibiting the effects of 5α-reductase, hair growth can be significantly influenced. 

Reduced oxidative stress can also be achieved using amla, which could prevent premature hair loss.5,6

Amla-based hair care practices

Amla can be incorporated into your hair-care routine in different ways to attain your dream shiny locks. Several amla-based hair care practices include: 

Directions for useAdditional information
Amla oilPreparation: Either drying or grinding amla and soaking it in a base oil like coconut oil, sesame oil, or mineral oil prepares amla oil, which encourages amla’s natural oil enriched with phytonutrients to get incorporated into the mixture.

Application

- Amla oil can be directly applied to the scalp and the hair lengths

- A gentle scalp massage after an oil application could help in reaping the maximum benefits of the oil’s goodness 
A patch test of the oil before application could help avoid any potential allergic reactions 
Amla powderAmla powder is typically made by drying amla and grinding it into a fine powder. It can be incorporated into your haircare in different ways:

- Hair masks and DIY treatments with other ingredients such as honey

- Mixed with water and honey and taken orally as a supplement


Consultation with healthcare professionals is essential

- To make sure that the dosage and frequency match individual health and medical history

- To avoid any adverse health reactions to other medication 
Amla supplements- Available in concentrated juice and capsule forms

- Recommended adult dosage of amla capsule is 1000-2000mg per day with food and a sufficient amount of water
Raw amla fruit- 1-2 raw amla fruits can be eaten in a day 
- It could be juiced at home for nutrient-dense amla shots
Amla tends to be highly bitter

Tips for incorporating amla into hair care

Balancing amla with other hair care practices is essential rather than solely relying on it. This could include taking regular multivitamin supplements and focusing on a good diet and lifestyle. Moreover, like an external hair-care product, consistency in usage is crucial for optimal results, and the time needed to see a positive outcome might vary among different people. 

It is also important to be mindful of the potential side effects of using amla-based products for hair health. Similar to any other self-care routine, less is more. Excessive use of amla is said to cause scalp dryness, dandruff, and itchiness. Research has also mentioned a case of mild constipation reported after having oral amla-based products, and hence, being mindful about dosage and frequency of administration of oral supplements must be carefully considered.3 

Some precautions to take include doing a patch test before applying amla oil to your scalp and consulting with your healthcare provider before taking amla-based supplements. More research needs to be done on the long-term side effects of using amla-based hair care products. 

FAQs

What is amla, and how does it contribute to hair health?

Amla, or Indian Gooseberry, is a fruit known for its rich nutritional profile, exceptionally high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. It promotes hair health by stimulating hair follicles, increasing blood circulation, and preventing hair loss.

How does amla help to promote hair growth?

Amla stimulates hair follicles, encouraging the growth of new hair. Its rich nutrient content nourishes the scalp, creating an optimal environment for healthy hair development. It also contains properties that help minimize breakage, split ends, and damage to the hair shaft.

What are the different ways to use Amla for hair care?

Amla can be used in various forms, including oil, powder, hair masks, and supplements. Each method offers unique benefits and contributes to overall hair health.

Are there any side effects of using Amla for hair care?

Amla is ‌safe, but some individuals may experience allergies or sensitivities. Doing a patch test before widespread use and consulting with a healthcare professional if any concerns arise is recommended.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women use Amla for hair care?

While Amla is generally safe, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their healthcare provider before incorporating any new supplements or treatments into their routine.

Summary

Amla is highly beneficial in promoting healthy hair growth, preventing hair loss and maintaining a smoother and conditioned texture of hair. Who does not dream of having hair that is smooth, easily manageable and a piece of cake to style?

Different ways to incorporate amla into your hair care routine could be explored in several ways, such as amla oil, supplements such as capsules or concentrated amla juice, amla powder, or simply consuming raw amla fruit. Choosing what works for you is also important based on your daily routine and convenience. Moreover, consistency with your chosen amla-based hair care routine is crucial to see obvious results. 

It is also important to remember that nothing can be a one-stop solution for a wide range of problems relating to hair health. Adapting holistic approaches to hair health and well-being would be more effective, and using amla-based products along with other steps in your hair care routine might work better. Paying attention to your overall dietary and lifestyle habits is the first step before integrating any self-care options into your hair care routine. 

    References

    1. Gul M, Liu Z-W, Iahtisham-Ul-Haq, Rabail R, Faheem F, Walayat N, et al. Functional and Nutraceutical Significance of Amla (Phyllanthus emblica L.): A Review. Antioxidants (Basel) [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 25]; 11(5):816. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9137578/.
    2. Almatroodi SA, Alsahli MA, Almatroudi A, Dev K, Rafat S, Verma AK, et al. Amla (Emblica officinalis): Role in health management via controlling various biological activities. Gene Reports [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 25]; 21:100820. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S245201442030234X.
    3. Akhbari M, Firooz A, Rahimi R, Shirzad M, Esmaealzadeh N, Shirbeigi L. The effect of an oral product containing Amla fruit (Phyllanthus emblica L.) on female androgenetic alopecia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Ethnopharmacology [Internet]. 2024 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 318:116958. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874123008267.
    4. Yu JY, Gupta B, Park HG, Son M, Jun J-H, Yong CS, et al. Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 2017:4395638. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429933/.
    5. Trüeb RM, Henry JP, Davis MG, Schwartz JR. Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress. Int J Trichology [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 10(6):262–70. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369642/.
    6. Kapoor MP, Suzuki K, Derek T, Ozeki M, Okubo T. Clinical evaluation of Emblica Officinalis Gatertn (Amla) in healthy human subjects: Health benefits and safety results from a randomized, double-blind, crossover placebo-controlled study. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 17:100499. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2451865419302625.
    This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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    Karishma Manoj Kumar

    Master of Science - MS, Drug Discovery and Pharma Management, UCL

    I am a Drug Discovery and Pharma Management graduate from University College London (UCL) with an entrepreneurial rigour from working in a start-up setting and enthusiasm for life sciences. With previous experience working on diverse projects and internships ranging from life science consulting to public relations and business development, I find life sciences to be a dynamic and rewarding space to feed my ambition and grow holistically while contributing to the healthcare/pharmaceutical value chain.

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