Popular in Ayurvedic medicine, Indian gooseberry is a force to be reckoned with. Otherwise known as amla, this superfruit protects against an impressive list of ailments, many of which are degenerative. The berry is also famous as a potent beauty elixir for its role in reducing hair loss and graying, as well as smoothing wrinkles and fortifying the skin. A veritable ‘Fountain of Youth,’ amla can help keep you sprightly, vibrant and disease-free.
The chemistry behind a healing fruit
With a distinctive sour taste, amla is generally consumed for its therapeutic value. As one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, it’s traditionally been used to tame inflammation, boost the immune system, slow the aging process and increase longevity. Amla is said to have a cooling effect on the body, improve liver function and encourage weight loss. Modern research has also found the berry to be an exceptionally protective food.
Research in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine discovered that amla has one of the highest antioxidant ratings of any food by demonstrating exceptional free radical scavenging properties.  Likewise, this study found the berry to be one of four superfoods with a “prominently potent ability to scavenge superoxide radical.” And the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology states that the fruit has significant “antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, and chemopreventive properties.” 
What’s more, amla is nutrient rich and sports remarkable levels of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, chromium, manganese, phosphorus and iron. It’s also an excellent source of the antioxidants ellagic and gallic acid, along with quercetin and corilagin.
Turning back the hands of time
Not only is amla an outstanding health promoting food, it also has a long history of use for restoring the hair and skin to a youthful appearance. “Sourced from the Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis, a tree native to India), amla oil has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. Featuring a number of essential fatty acids, amla oil is thought to strengthen the hair follicles and condition the hair,” notes Cathy Wong, N.D. Topically, amla oil is massaged into the scalp to slow shedding and reverse gray hair. According to Organic Facts:
“Amla oil is very popular in India because it has been shown to reduce the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality is due to the carotene content of amla, as well as its iron content and general antioxidant capacity, which reduces hair loss by not allowing free radicals to damage hair follicles or impact the hormones that can cause premature hair loss.”
Additionally, consuming amla assists in calcium absorption, which is important for nails and hair. The antioxidants found in the berry protect skin from the inside out, effectively reducing wrinkling and environmental damage, while vitamin C promotes collagen production – another factor that deflects sagging and poor skin tone.
Sources for this article include:
1. “Comparative study of the antioxidant and reactive oxygen species scavenging properties in the extracts of the fruits of Terminalia chebula,Terminalia belerica and Emblica officinalis” Bibhabasu Hazra, Rhitajit Sarkar, Santanu Biswas and Nripendranath Mandal, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved on January 8, 2014, from: biomedcentral.com
2. “Therapeutic potential of Phyllanthus emblica (amla): the Ayurvedic wonder” Krishnaveni M, Mirunalini S, Journal Basic Clinical Physiol Pharmacol. Retrieved on January 8, 2014, from: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov