Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) is a powerhouse herb. This small, sour fruit plays a major role in two of the most popular and widely used Ayurvedic formulas—triphala and chyavanprash. Triphala is a traditional herbal combination that boasts the unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the body while simultaneously replenishing and nourishing it. It is particularly supportive of the whole digestive system. Chyavanprash is a traditional herbal jam made in a base of amalaki fruit. This excellent rejuvenative nourishes and strengthens the body, providing energy and vitality.
Amalaki is a small to medium sized tree that grows throughout the Indian subcontinent. Banyan Botanicals chooses to use the Sanskrit name, amalaki, for this herb, but it is also commonly called by its Hindi name, amla (meaning “sour”). Other Sanskrit nicknames for amalaki—names meaning “mother,” “nurse,” and “immortality”—are a testament to the healing capacity of its fruits.1, 2
The Freshest Source: Sustainably-Harvested Amalaki
Amalaki is relatively abundant in many parts of India. Where and how it is harvested makes a big difference in sustainability. Traditionally, the fruits are collected from trees in the wild. This practice, particularly when done illegally, can bring threat to long-term sustainability of this precious fruit. In recent decades, efforts have been made to cultivate amalaki trees in a manner in which sustainability can be managed and, now, hybridized types are grown on a large scale in many parts of the country. Banyan uses a combination of legally wild collected and sustainably cultivated amalaki from the state of Karnataka in southern India and Rajasthan in the north.
The Organic Revolution: The Importance of Certified Organic Amalaki
Certified organic amalaki cultivation is a relatively new practice. Many farmers are deterred by the costs and paperwork of organic certification and will not make the effort for fear of heavy losses due to the long and arduous transition period.
The amalaki in all of Banyan’s products is USDA certified organic from the start to the finish of the farming process. Banyan is able to ensure that organic practices are adhered to because we receive the ingredients from trusted sources whose methods have been verified and monitored. You can rest assured that amalaki sourced through Banyan Botanicals will be free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Taking Root: From Planting to Harvest
New organic trees are planted from cuttings and normally take three years before the first harvestable fruiting. The first fruit yields are usually very small but once they reach maturation, about 50 to 100 pounds of fresh fruit is harvested from each tree. Harvests depend on the size of the tree and also vary from year to year, often determined by external growing conditions like weather patterns.
The fresh, ripe fruits are harvested at optimal times, using environmentally conscious practices that are sensitive to the long-term health of the trees and their surrounding ecosystems. Once the first few fruits have started naturally falling from the tree, the fruit is ready to harvest. The most common method is for someone to shake the branches or to tap them with a stick while four others hold out a large sheet or tarp to catch the falling fruit. If the tree is too big to shake or reach, the collector may climb the tree with a sack.
Small, sour, and… hard! Amalaki is a surprisingly firm fruit, which makes removing its large stone seed a difficult process. While many amalaki processors boil or blanch the fruit to soften it, this can reduce its potency and create a darkly colored product. Banyan prefers to separate the seed by grating away the fresh fruit from around it, thereby keeping the fruit’s original properties intact. The freshly grated amalaki is then dried to produce beautiful golden colored flakes.
Growing, harvesting, and processing amalaki is labor intensive. Banyan strongly believes in maintaining socially responsible relationships with farmers and is committed to following fair trade principles, which include paying above-market wages, investing in the education of the farmers, and giving back to their communities.
1 Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Churchill Livingston Elsevier, 2006. 52, 126-127, 296, 303-304, 326.
2 Gogte, Vaidya V. M. Ayurvedic Pharmacology & Therapeutic Uses of Medicinal Plants. Reprint. Chaukhambha Publications, 2009. 310.