Some people think that bhumi amalaki is a kind of amalaki (Indian gooseberry), which is a very famous medicinal fruit in Ayurveda. By the similarity of name, it's easy to think that bhumi amalaki is related to amalaki, but this is not correct.
Bhumi amalaki is a completely different plant from amalaki. Amalaki is a big tree and bhumi amalaki is a small plant. The two species have very different properties too. The only reason that the names are similar is that bhumi amalaki has many tiny, mustard-seed-sized fruits on its stems which look exactly like the big amalaki fruits that inspired the name.
In Sanskrit the name, bhumi amalaki, is usually written in a combined form according to special sandhi rules (rules for combining syllables in Sanskrit). Instead of "bhumi amalaki" you will often see it written as "bhumyamalaki." The "ya' in the middle of the word is formed when the "i" at the end of "bhumi" combines with the "a" at the beginning of "amalaki."
You will also see the words amalaki and amla used interchangeably. Amla is just a shorthand way of saying amalaki. This applies to the names of both Ayurvedic plants: amalaki and bhumi amalaki.
The prabhava (special property) of bhumyamla that cannot be predicted by its rasa (taste), guna (physical qualities), virya (thermogenic effect) or vipak (post-digestive effect) is its effect on the liver. Bhumyamalaki is a yakrit rasayana. Yakrit means "liver," and rasayana is a term used in Ayurveda for anything that removes imbalances and reverses aging. Here is the official definition of rasayana:
yajjara vyadhi nashanam tadrasayanam
That which reverses aging and removes disease is said to be rasayana.
Bhumyamalaki not only detoxifies the liver, like the herb katuka does, but unlike katuka it also nourishes the liver. Whenever you detoxify (shodhana) and nourish (santarpana) any part of the body, you reestablish the "a" vibration (the ultimate intelligence of the divine in that area). That's how rasayanas are able to "reverse aging and remove disease."
One of the synonyms of bhumi amla is dhatri. Dhatri is a Sanskrit term for someone who is not your mother, but who nourishes you like a mother. Bhumyamla is dhatri for the liver. It loves the liver like a mother, giving it deep nourishment with its cooling, soma-rich properties and detoxifying it with its highly intelligent, marut properties.
Another name for bhumyamalaki that indicates this same ability comes from the ancient Ayurvedic text, Bhava Prakash. In that text, bhumi amla is called shiva. This name refers to the god Shiva, whose nature is to reestablish peace by destroying anything that opposes peace.
Typically, you read stories of Shiva slaying many-headed demons to restore peace on earth. Bhumyamalaki is compared to Shiva in this way because it both detoxifies the liver (removes the "demons" of amavisha) and creates peace (nourishes the liver with lots of soma) at the same time.
There are two species of bhumyamalaki: phyllanthus niruri (which spreads on the ground) and phyllanthus amarus (which is taller). Vaidya Mishra's family tradition of Ayurveda is very specific about using the smaller one (phyllanthus niruri) because it is more effective and more safe. When anything is working on the liver, you have to be very careful. If you detoxify too fast, it can give serious problems (see katuka for details).
Some research has been done on bhumyamalaki with positive results with hepatitis, including hepatitis C. You can review some of the articles on Google Scholar. However, be careful. These studies were all done using the crude herb in large doses. They also used phyllanthus amarus predominantly, which is more dangerous. You will see the side effects of this, with toxic effects reported for the kidneys.
Ayurveda understands why the studies are finding kidney toxicity. If large doses of bhumyamalaki are used, it can detoxify the liver so fast that the toxins released from the liver cannot be eliminated from the body in time. The toxins get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and filtered by the kidneys. Basically, the only thing that has been accomplished is a transfer of toxins from the liver to the kidneys—not a good thing if it damages the kidneys.
For this reason, bhumyamalaki should not be used indiscriminately, or in large doses, especially if there is a high toxic load in the liver (and this is the case in 99% of people living in the modern world).
It should also be combined with other herbs like coriander (to help bind the toxins released by the liver) and punarnava (to help strengthen the kidneys to handle the excess toxins passing through). It should always be used under the guidance of a Shaka Vansya Ayurveda practitioner.
There are two kinds of thirst mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts: pipasa and trishna. Pipasa is normal thirst. It happens when pitta goes high (maybe too much ranjaka pitta in the liver and blood, or too much pachaka pitta in the stomach, for example).
This increase in heat and acidity in the body causes the body to want water (soma) to reestablish balance. This is what happens with pipasa (normal thirst). The body is deficient in soma only in the superficial tissues (rasa and rakta), not in the deeper tissues (mamsa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra).
When soma is deficient in the deeper tissues, you get trishna—a desperate craving kind of thirst that doesn't go away with a glass of water. This kind of chronic thirst is usually an indication of visha (toxins) in the deeper tissues, which burn the soma there.
Bhumyamla does not treat trishna, but it does help with pipasa by pacifying pitta. It takes excess pitta from the liver, cools the body and satisfies the thirst.
Bhava Prakash describes bhumyamalaki as kaphapaha (removing excess kapha). This might seems strange for a herb that has a hima virya (cold thermogenic property). Cold usually increases kapha.
The kashaya rasa (astringent taste) does help balance kapha a bit by drying it out, but the real power of this herb to balance kapha comes from its ability to open the channels and the burners in the liver. This causes agni (metabolism) to increase and unused kapha in the body to get burned up.
According to the Ayurvedic texts, bhumi amla helps improve kandu. The symptoms of kandu are deeply itchy and inflamed skin. By improving the liver, bhumyamalaki helps improve the quality of the blood, which is the cause of this skin problem.
According to Bhava Prakash, bhumyamla is also helpful for kshata (wounds in the mucous membranes including ulcerative colitis, as well as damage to the myelin sheath due to multiple sclerosis). Again, bhumi amla supports the liver, which cleans the blood of toxins. In the absence of toxins in the blood, the wounds (kshata) naturally heal.
In this 21 minute audio lecture, you will learn the many Sanskrit names of bhumyamalaki as described by the ancient Ayurvedic text Bhava Prakash. You will hear Vaidya Mishra's experience with one patient of Dr. Teitelbaum, who started getting pain in the kidney when using bhumi amalaki.
You will learn the physical properties of bhumi amla and its imporant uses from Bhava Prakash.
You will also learn how to choose a proper yogavahi (supporting herb) for bhumyamla.
When you download the zip file for this section of the course (and unzip it using a free unzip program like 7-Zip), you will find a PDF file (which can be opened with the free Adobe Reader) and an MP3 file (which can be played on any MP3 player such as iPod or iTunes). You can listen to the audio alone, but for the first time through (at least), we recommend that you follow along with the PDF document to make sure that all of the concepts are clear. The PDF's sometimes contain visual diagrams in addition to the Sanskrit verses. If you learn visually, reading along with the PDF will be helpful.
We also recommend reviewing the PDF, and re-listening to the MP3 file many times, so that you begin to recognize the knowledge and own it. These MP3 files are especially good to put on your MP3 player so you can listen in the car. Just as it is easy to remember songs you hear over and over on the radio, you will find that the knowledge in these lectures will stick to you with no effort when you hear them over and over. You will also find that your understanding of the material deepens each time you hear them.
This product and statements have not been evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are not intended to be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. All of the information above is intended for educational purposes only and may not be used to replace or complement medical advice.