amla berries prepared for oil pressing

Those apple and green grape mix looking things are called amla berries or the Indian Gooseberry (Phyllanthus Emblica).

The specific “amla oil” originates from India and is commonly sold by the healthcare company “Dabur”.

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Strangely, the actual alma oil is not made from pressing the berries (although this is possible), instead, the “instructions” say to soak dried alma fruits in some other oil, often sesame, coconut, or mineral oil to drain the natural oil from the berries.

This alone poses our first problem…

Do you see what I mean? Amla oil dissolved in coconut oil would be completely different from amla oil that was dissolved in mineral oil or sesame oil.

The manufacturers rarely say how the oil is prepared and produced, so it’s really hard to objectively look at its effect on the facial hair.

So instead of judging amla oil for beard growth and care, we have to look at the evidence behind the actual Indian gooseberry, to know the real truth.

Quick facts:

  • Amla oil is produced from Amla berries by dissolving them in other oils.
  • Powdered extract of Amla Berry (Indian Gooseberry) suppresses 5-a enzyme.
  • Through 5-a suppression, Amla extract blocks the beard growth androgen; DHT.
  • This makes Amla oil antiandrogenic and unsuitable for the beard use.

Why Amla Oil Might be Bad for Beard Growth

indian gooseberry

When looking at an isolated oil or ingredient from the standpoint of facial hair growth or beard care, we have to take into account the androgenic hormones.

I’m talking about beard hormones.

(testosterone, which primes facial hair follicles and enlarges them, and DHT, which directly stimulates the linear growth of the beard.)

After all, without these androgens, you would not be able to grow a beard, and when applying oils and other stuff on your facial hair, you want to make sure that they don’t suppress either one.

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When it comes to amla oil for beard growth, the news is pretty bad.

In a study examining 17 different herbs and plants, the amla berry (Phyllanthus Emblica) was found to be an extremely potent DHT-blocker1.

For this reason, using amla oil or anything that has Indian gooseberry in it for the beard, is not a good idea. The facial hair is androgenic-hair, and amla blocks the production of the most potent androgen in the body; DHT.

Although amla berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, it doesn’t help the fact that amla oil also suppresses the enzyme 5-a reductase, which is the enzyme that converts testosterone into its more potent form of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

So why does the study talk about hair growth promotion?

Simply because it was done with scalp-hair in mind. At the scalp, DHT has been linked to increased hair-loss, but in the face, DHT has been linked to improved facial hair growth.

Your beard hairs are not the same as your heard hairs.

Without testosterone and DHT (androgens), you physically cannot grow a beard. Since amla oil blocks the latter of those, you could label it a beard growth suppressor.

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androgen effects on hair follicle

Bottom line: The Indian gooseberry is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, but with that being said, the oil prepared from the berries is bad for beard growth as it blocks the production of DHT by inhibiting the enzyme 5-a reductase.

Conclusion

Should I use beard oils that have amla oil in them?

Absolutely not. It suppresses the most potent beard-growing hormone. There are better alternatives available that won’t hurt these hormones, such as jojoba oil or castor oil.

But a lot of companies use it in their beard oils and if it’s bad, why do they use it?

Most beard oil companies have absolutely no idea how their oils react with beard-growing androgens. The fact that someone is willing to put amla in beard oil, proves that fact.

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References

1.
Kumar N, Rungseevijitprapa W, Narkkhong N, Suttajit M, Chaiyasut C. 5α-reductase inhibition and hair growth promotion of some Thai plants traditionally used for hair treatment. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;139(3):765-771.
Ali is a published author and a beard grooming expert from Finland. To this date, his articles have been read more than 15-million times on various sites, and he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and grow thicker. His work has been featured and cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.

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