Should I Try Amla Oil? For Hair Yes, But There Are Alternatives
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
But while amla oil is extracted from the amla fruit and contains many of the same benefits that amla powder does, there are some differences to be aware of.
In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of amla oil compared to our favorite form of amla -- amla powder -- and explain when, and if, you'll want to consider amla oil as a nutritional supplement.
Table of Contents
Amla, A Rising Star Supplement
Amla, sometimes known as the Indian gooseberry, is no secret in India, but it is slowly gaining exposure in the US as a potent superfood with countless health benefits.
Amla has been used for thousands of years to promote overall wellness, and it's considered one of nature's top sources of Vitamin C.
So why hasn't it made its way from India to the US before now? Well, there are three main reasons. The first is that amla is, shall we say, an acquired taste. It's tart and bitter, which made it far less viable as a commercial fruit.
The second is that up until recently, western researchers hadn't quite bought into the incredible health power of amla.
But in the past years, research has shown that amla can benefit everything from hair and skin health to lowering your blood sugar and preventing disease!
The third is that it's very hard to find reliable, high-quality sources of organic amla in the United States.
But all of that is changing. With the rising demand for Amla, this powerful superfood has become more and more available through online shopping and ambitious importers, leading to a wide variety of different products becoming available.
And today we're looking at two of the most popular forms of amla: Amla Powder and Amla Oil.
Amla Powder vs Amla Oil
Both amla powder and amla oil are derived from Amla fruit, so they share many of the same benefits.
Both are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Both can help increase your energy levels throughout the day by keeping you more alert without draining you as coffee does.
And both may be able to prevent disease by protecting against free radicals that would otherwise damage cells within our bodies.
However, their preparation and form are slightly different. Amla powder is made by simply grinding Amla fruit into a powder, which is then packaged in capsules or sold as loose powder.
Amla oil, on the other hand, is made by soaking Amla fruits in a base oil (like coconut) and pressing them to release their oils.
These juices are often blended together to create amla juice, which can be further processed into amla extract, but many people choose to use amla oil -- especially when it comes to Amla's beauty benefits.
Amla Oil For Hair
One huge use for amla oil is amla's ability to promote hair growth and health and has a long history of being used in this way. In fact, the Indian gooseberry (as amla is known), has been prescribed for everything from dry hair and oily scalp to premature greying. It’s even used to prevent hair loss!
Can Amla Oil Improve Hair Health?
Amla is the strongest antioxidant on the planet, which makes it an incredibly potent tonic for both the inside and outside of your body. After all, antioxidants help reduce free radicals and stop oxidative stress from damaging your cells.
And your hair is no different, with amla's incredible antioxidant density promoting healthy growth for your hair!
Amla oil also contains Vitamin B12, a nutrient that helps to promote healthy cell division within the follicle of your scalp.
This means quite a bit, as it's exactly this cell damage that causes so much hair loss and other headaches for people seeking beautiful hair with natural bounce and shine. In fact, healthier hair (thanks to antioxidants) can be the source behind:
- Preventing premature greying (reducing oxidative stress controls premature greying)
- Keeps hair strands thick (no matter your hair type), and soft, helping revitalize your shiny tresses even after prolonged hair damage.
- Offering a number of hair damage controls, both by promoting a healthy scalp and preventing damage to your hair while your hair has grown. So that means less split ends and worrying about dandruff, and more of those shiny tresses we keep dreaming of!
Hair Growth with Amla Oil?
Amla has also been shown to function almost like those old school, miracle hair tonics... except it actually works!.
In fact, peer-reviewed studies have shown that amla oil can help in two ways:
- First, amla reduces hair loss and damage leading to baldness, which is why amla's been such a popular choice in India for generations. Just look above for all of the information on how amla oil shampooing/conditioner can be a game-changer for your hair health and hair damage controls
- Second, amla oil encourages fresh growth in your hair. Amla has been shown again and again as an effective treatment for promoting healthy circulation and blood flow to your scalp.
Amla oil (like any good moisturizer) actually helps the blood vessels in your scalp expand and contract, encouraging better circulation which can improve hair growth! In fact, one research study showed that amla oil applied to the scalp even helped promote hair growth in cases of alopecia.
The Case for Amla Hair Products
Many people seeking natural hair products and hair treatment might want to consider amla oil hair products.
Even putting aside the incredible boost to hair growth, hair health, dandruff, thick hair, and any other number of improvements to your hair, you'll have a natural product that's drawn entirely from organic nutrients, which is always a good thing.
Also, it has a great, natural smell, doesn't cause irritation (and actually helps prevent irritation) and doesn't leave stains behind.
Current Products on the Market: Dabur Amla Hair Oil
One of the most common hair products on the market that uses amla oil is the brand Dabur Amla Hair Oil, which is made from amla fruit that has been soaked in coconut oil for at least 12 hours.
These hair oils are great because they can be used like a regular shampoo -- just apply to wet hair of all hair types and wash after several minutes (or leave on your scalp overnight).
You can find Dabur Amla Hair Oil, along with many other products based on this Indian gooseberry oil, online.
The Many Other Health Benefits of Amla
Compared to topical application and external use, the other health benefits of amla are certainly less "glamorous". But this powerful plant and its many vital minerals can also function as a life-changing medicine and immune booster.
So take a moment to take off the shower cap and wear your lab coat, because we're exploring the other benefits of amla.
Lower Blood Sugar
Amla has been shown to lower blood sugar levels for individuals with diabetes, which is especially helpful to those who are currently on medication that helps reduce their fasting glucose.
In fact, amla has been shown to reduce blood sugar at a level comparable to many leading medications, without the negative side effects.
Adding to this powerful plant's list of benefits is its weight loss properties. Amla has been shown to help with fat metabolism, which can prevent obesity and encourage healthy body mass index levels.
Lowered Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
And along with weight loss, amla has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides, which will help normalize your heart health.
Amla is also useful in lowering high blood pressure (again, on par with some leading medications!) making it a great natural alternative for individuals on medication that may come with negative side effects.
We've discussed amla's antioxidant power for your skin and hair, but this incredible superfood also boosts the body's natural immunity to pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
This happens for two reasons. First, your immune system functions better when it has sufficient antioxidants, and second, amla is also the second-densest source of vitamin C on the planet, which also boosts your immunity.
Reduced Oxidative Stress
We also touched on oxidative stress with regards to skin and hair health, but amla's incredible antioxidant power helps a ton internally too.
Oxidative stress is the root of many diseases and conditions, so amla's high antioxidant power helps the body protect itself on the inside as well as the outside.
And Many More
Studies have shown that amla can do much, much, more too, including everything from helping protect your liver, fight bacteria, increase digestion, and even reduce risk of cancer.
You can learn more about all of the many benefits of amla here.
What's Amla Oil Missing?
So why shouldn't everyone take amla oil for their hair and their skin, as well as a supplement?
Well, amla oil has a couple of things going against it. First, amla oil can be fairly expensive ($20 for 100mg).
In addition, amla oil may lack some of the key fibers that help make this potent superfood so good for you, which is another strike against amla oil as your all-in-one solution.
So while amla oil does have great antioxidant properties that can help improve your hair growth, the health of your hair strands, and overall hair beauty, it may not be the best way to get amla's other health benefits.
For those, we look to amla powder.
Our Favorite Amla Powder
And when it comes to amla powder, there's no better example than Amla Green. Amla Green combines organic amla in a 20x concentrated powder, which contains all of the health benefits of the whole powder in one incredibly potent form.
Add in the fact that Amla Green also adds green tea, herbal tea, or elderberries (depending on your favorite flavor) and you have a combination that smoothes the harsh taste of amla, magnifies the benefits, and leaves behind a resulting powder that might be the most powerful plant-based supplement on the planet.
Now that doesn't mean that indian hair oils with amla aren't fantastic! Whether for hair treatment, skin treatment, or just a helpful boost while you wash your head, amla oil is a great solution.
But for the incredible power of this potent superfood, it's hard to beat the powder.
Amla Green has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles, and we rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
“Akhtar, M. S., and M. A. Jabbar. “Effect of Topical Application of Oils of Amla, Coconut, Sarson and Samsol on Growth of Rabbit’s Hair and Sheep Wool.” JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 31, no. 11 (November 1981): 246–49."
“Amla (Indian Gooseberry): Health Benefits, Nutrients per Serving, Preparation Information, and More.” ”https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-amla#1"
“D’souza, Jason Jerome, Prema Pancy D’souza, Farhan Fazal, Ashish Kumar, Harshith P. Bhat, and Manjeshwar Shrinath Baliga. “Anti-Diabetic Effects of the Indian Indigenous Fruit Emblica Officinalis Gaertn: Active Constituents and Modes of Action.” Food & Function 5, no. 4 (April 2014): 635–44.” ”https://doi.org/10.1039/c3fo60366k"
“Hashem-Dabaghian, Fataneh, Mojtaba Ziaee, Samad Ghaffari, Farzaneh Nabati, and Saeed Kianbakht. “A Systematic Review on the Cardiovascular Pharmacology of Emblica Officinalis Gaertn.” Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research 10, no. 3 (2018): 118–28.” ”https://doi.org/10.15171/jcvtr.2018.20"
“Majeed, Muhammed, Shaheen Majeed, Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, Lakshmi Mundkur, Prakriti Neupane, and Kalpesh Shah. “Clinical Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of a Hair Serum Product in Healthy Adult Male and Female Volunteers with Hair Fall.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 13 (September 24, 2020): 691–700.” ”https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S271013"
“Nazish, Iram, and Shahid H. Ansari. “Emblica Officinalis - Anti-Obesity Activity.” Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine 15, no. 2 (December 5, 2017): /j/jcim.2018.15.issue-2/jcim-2016-0051/jcim-2016-0051.xml. ” ”https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2016-0051"
“Preiser, Jean-Charles. “Oxidative Stress.” JPEN. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 36, no. 2 (March 2012): 147–54.” ”https://doi.org/10.1177/0148607111434963"
“Puertollano, María A., Elena Puertollano, Gerardo Álvarez de Cienfuegos, and Manuel A. de Pablo. “Dietary Antioxidants: Immunity and Host Defense.” Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 11, no. 14 (2011): 1752–66. ” ”https://doi.org/10.2174/156802611796235107"
“Trüeb, R. M. “The Impact of Oxidative Stress on Hair.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science 37 Suppl 2 (December 2015): 25–30.” ”https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12286"
“Yu, Jae Young, Biki Gupta, Hyoung Geun Park, Miwon Son, Joon-Ho Jun, Chul Soon Yong, Jeong Ah Kim, and Jong Oh Kim. “Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM 2017 (2017): 4395638.” ”https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4395638"
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, is a cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. Using an evidence-based approach to nutrition and fitness, he first reduced his own insulin usage by more than 40%, and has educated thousands of people with all forms of diabetes how to reverse insulin resistance using food as medicine. Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Conference, Plant Stock, and has been featured on Forks Over Knives, NPR, PBS, KQED, Fast Company, and is the author of the upcoming book Mastering Diabetes.
- Cyrus Khambatta