Amla oil is a naturally occurring substance that has been used for centuries to promote healthy hair.
Derived from the Indian gooseberry “Phyllanthus emblica” this oil is thought to prevent hair loss, stimulate hair growth and fight off the advancement of graying hair. According to most anecdotal reports, this is done through direct application to the hair or scalp.
Using ayurvedic therapeutic techniques, amla oil was created by soaking the dried amla fruit in a suitable oil. Sesame oil, coconut oil, and even mineral oil can be used for this purpose.
After a few days of soaking in oils, the dried fruits are removed and the oil strained and purified. Sometimes a fragrance or preservative will be added to improve smell and the longevity of the concoction.
The Benefits of Using Amla Oil on Your Hair
Pure, organic amla oil contains some important fatty acids. Due to containing these nutrients, the oil is believed to be effective at strengthening the hair at the root and conditioning the strands from the roots to the tips.
Those who have tried amla oil also claim that the oil mitigates hair loss, mitigates dandruff, and soothes itchy scalps.
The Scientific Research on Amla Oil Benefits
Does amla oil make your hair grow faster? Indian researchers recently tested a variety of hair care products, one of which was amla oil. Their research showed that amla oil was most effective at killing parasites (e.g., head lice) commonly found in human hair.
In a related study on rabbits and rodents, Indian researchers studied the effects of amla oil and other herbal hair oils to see how well they improved the health of your hair strands and if they encouraged hair growth.
Amla oil was placed on the animal’s fur during the study. The animals were then monitored for 15 days to see if additional fur growth occurred. Researchers discovered that fur which had been exposed to amla oil experienced faster growth than fur that wasn’t exposed to hair growth.
Pakistani researchers were able to duplicate this effect in rabbits in a separate study. Strangely, however, the researchers were not able to reproduce the hair growth results in sheep.
Upon further study, researchers concluded that sheep didn’t experience similar fur growth because they lack a fat layer within their skin that is common in other mammals such as rabbits, rodents, and human beings.
Amla oil is available in several different concentrations. However, it’s often diluted with water to lower the concentration of oil in certain hair products, making it weaker than higher concentrated products with less water.
Using a weaker formulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to the various studies carried out on amla oil, the best concentration has a 7.5% amla oil to water ratio.
That’s why it is important to pay attention to the concentration of any amla oil product you are considering. Amla oil is one of the more well known Ayurvedic hair growth treatments.
Consequently, some people believe that amla oil is effective in improving hair growth and overall hair health, and now there are a few, small studies that provide evidence. One caveat, however, is to understand these studies were conducted on animals and not people.
As often the case in the hair care market, there are anecdotal claims with before and after pictures, touting the benefits of using pure amla oil for hair growth and a variety hair and skin related issues.
The true scientific research that we’ve seen, with control groups, doesn’t completely support these hair growth claims, so you’re left trusting small studies conducted in foreign countries, social proof, and anecdotal evidence.
For example, there was a 2012 study mentioned in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. This was a study performed on animals being tested with 17 plants native to Thailand, one of these being extracts from the alma plant.
Based on the test results, the amla extract is thought to be effective in preventing hair loss, but more tests need to be done.
How to Use Amla Oil On Your Hair?
Many women apply amla oil to their hair in place of conventional hair conditioners. The idea is to slowly work the oil into the hair and continue massaging till all strands oiled.
Then the head is usually covered with a shower cap to allow the oils to work (follow directions on the package) and subsequently washed away. Most people don’t like the smell of the oil, so it’s uncommon for people to leave the oil for an extended period of time.
It’s possible that you find amla oil that has been scented, which may afford you the opportunity to wear the oil outside of the house. It can also be applied before sleeping and left on the hair and scalp overnight.
It would be a good idea to wear a nightcap while using this treatment option to avoid staining your pillowcase with the pungent oil. According to Ayurvedic tradition, amla oil is an effective treatment for dry, itchy scalps and those suffering from mild to extreme dandruff conditions.
Amla Hair Products: Shampoos, Powders, and Conditioners
While amla oil is often used in its pure form on the hair and scalp, this oil is also one of the primary ingredients in many shampoos that aim to prevent hair loss. You can also find amla extracts in various hair powders.
If you’re looking to buy amla oil, it can commonly be found in a wide variety of health and beauty stores.
Possible Side Effects
We haven’t seen any research done on the prolonged use of amla oil and any potential adverse side effects. Some side effects that have been noted through anecdotal evidence are skin irritations and allergic reactions.
Getting the amla oils in your eyes may cause irritation. Those who use the oils as an after washing conditioner should be very careful as the oil makes the shower stall a slippery location and can cause a nasty fall if traction mats are not firmly in place.
It is also important to know that amla supplements have not been fully tested by any regulatory board and this means that prolonged supplement use could have unexpected results.
Some Popular Alternatives to Amla Oil
Key Takeaways Based on Anecdotal & Scientific Evidence
While science doesn’t confirm the effectiveness of using amla oil for hair growth, hair loss or to prevent premature graying of the hair, many essential oils, like argan oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and many of the other aforementioned oils can be used within your natural hair regimen. Amla oil can also be used in this capacity.