Indian gooseberry

Indian gooseberry

:"Amla redirects here. For the cricketer, see Hashim Amla."Taxobox
name = Indian Gooseberry

image_width = 250px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Flowering plant
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Malpighiales
familia = Phyllanthaceae
tribus = Phyllantheae
subtribus = Flueggeinae
genus = "Phyllanthus"
species = "P. emblica"
binomial = "Phyllanthus emblica"
binomial_authority = L. [cite web
title=Phyllanthus emblica information from NPGS/GRIN
publisher=US Department of Agriculture
synonyms = "Cicca emblica" Kurz "Emblica officinalis" Gaertn. "Mirobalanus embilica" Burm. "Phyllanthus mairei" Lév.

The Indian gooseberry ("Phyllanthus emblica", syn. "Emblica officinalis") is a deciduous tree of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is known for its edible fruit of the same name.

Common names of this tree include "amalaka" in Sanskrit, "amla" () in Hindi, "amlaki" (আমলকী) in Bengali, and "amala" in Nepal Bhasa.

Plant anatomy

The tree is small to medium sized, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10-20 cm long, usually deciduous; the leaves simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves.Caldecott T. Amalaki [] ] The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with 6 vertical stripes or furrows. Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits.Dharmananda S. Emblic Myrobalans: Amla, Institute of Traditional Medicine [] ] The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries, steeped in salt water and turmeric, to make the sour fruits palatable.

Medical research

Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties. [Saeed S, Tariq P. Antibacterial activities of Emblica officinalis and Coriandrum sativum against Gram negative urinary pathogens. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2007 Jan;20(1):32-5. [] ] Experimental preparations of leaves, bark or fruit have shown potential efficacy against laboratory models of disease, such as for inflammation, cancer, age-related renal disease, and diabetes. [Ganju L, Karan D, Chanda S, Srivastava KK, Sawhney RC, Selvamurthy W. Immunomodulatory effects of agents of plant origin. Biomed Pharmacother. 2003 Sep;57(7):296-300. [] ] [Yokozawa T, Kim HY, Kim HJ, Tanaka T, Sugino H, Okubo T, Chu DC, Juneja LR. Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) attenuates age-related renal dysfunction by oxidative stress. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Sep 19;55(19):7744-52. [] ] [Rao TP, Sakaguchi N, Juneja LR, Wada E, Yokozawa T. Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extracts reduce oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Med Food. 2005 Fall;8(3):362-8. [] ]

A human pilot study demonstrated reduction of blood cholesterol levels in both normal and hypercholesterolemic men. [Jacob A, Pandey M, Kapoor S, Saroja R. Effect of the Indian gooseberry (amla) on serum cholesterol levels in men aged 35-55 years. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988 Nov;42(11):939-44. [] ]

Although fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 445 mg/100g, [Tarwadi K, Agte V. Antioxidant and micronutrient potential of common fruits available in the Indian subcontinent. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007 Aug;58(5):341-9. [] ] the specific contents are disputed and the overall antioxidant strength of amla may derive instead from its high density of tannins and other polyphenols. The fruit also contains flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid. [Habib-ur-Rehman, Yasin KA, Choudhary MA, Khaliq N, Atta-ur-Rahman, Choudhary MI, Malik S. Studies on the chemical constituents of Phyllanthus emblica. Nat Prod Res. 2007 Jul 20;21(9):775-81. [] ]

Traditional uses

In folk medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. According to Ayurveda, amla fruit is sour (amla) and astringent (kashaya) in taste (rasa), with sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and pungent (katu) secondary tastes (anurasas). Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the post-digestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura), and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).

According to Ayurveda, amla is specific to pitta due to its sweet taste and cooling energy. However, amla is thought to balance vata by virtue of its sour taste, and kapha due to its astringent taste and drying action. It may be used as a rasayana (rejuvenative] to promote longevity, and traditionally to enhance digestion (dipanapachana), treat constipation (anuloma), reduce fever (jvaraghna), purify the blood (raktaprasadana), reduce cough (kasahara), alleviate asthma (svasahara), strengthen the heart (hrdaya), benefit the eyes (chakshushya), stimulate hair growth (romasanjana), enliven the body (jivaniya), and enhance intellect (medhya).

In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash. This formula, which contains 43 herbal ingredients as well as clarified butter, sesame oil, sugar cane juice, and honey, was first mentioned in the Charaka Samhita as a premier rasayana or rejuvenative compound. [Samhita C. Ed., translation by the Shree Gulabkunverba Society, Volume 4. Chikitsa Sthana, Jamnagar, India: 1949] [Indian Ministry of Health and Family Planning. The Ayurvedic Formulary of India. Part I. 1st ed. Delhi, 1978.]

Popularly used in inks, shampoos and hair oils, the high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit serves as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics. Amla shampoos and hair oil are traditionally believed to nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature grey hair.Fact|date=March 2008

In Hinduism, amla is regarded as a sacred tree worshipped as Mother Earth.

Names in other languages

Other names for Indian gooseberry include "nelli" in Sinhala, "nellikka" in Malayalam, "amlakhi" in Assamese, "usirikai" in Telugu, and "nellikkaai" in Tamil, and Kannada as well as "aonla", "aola", "ammalaki", "dharty", "aamvala", "aawallaa", "emblic", "Emblic myrobalan", "Malacca tree", "nillika", and "nellikya" in various other languages.



External links

* [ Cultivation - from Indian National Medicinal Plants Board]
* [ Origin and botanical traits]

Further reading

*Winston, David, and Steven Maimes. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press. Contains a detailed monograph on Emblica officinalis (amla; Indian gooseberry).
*Puri, HS. 2003. Rasayana: Ayurvedic Herbs for Longevity and Rejuvenation. London:Taylor & Francis. pp 22-42.

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