HEALTH BENEFITS OF INDIAN GOOSEBERRY


The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 1–8 m (3 ft 3 in–26 ft 3 in) in height. The branchlets aren't glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous; the leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.

Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian emblic is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat emblic steeped in salt water and red chilli powder to make the sour fruits palatable.


Nutrition value

Although these fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), up to 445 mg per 100 g, the specific contents are disputed, and the overall antioxidant strength of amla may derive instead from its high density of ellagitannins such as emblicanin A (37%), emblicanin B (33%), punigluconin (12%) and pedunculagin (14%). It also contains punicafolin and phyllanemblinin A, phyllanemblin other polyphenols: flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid.

Traditional medicine

In traditional Indian medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic/Unani medicine (Jawarish amla) 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 postdigestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura) and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).

According to Ayurveda, amla balances all three doshas. While amla is unusual in that it contains five out of the six tastes recognized by Ayurveda, it is most important to recognize the effects of the "virya", or potency, and "vipaka", or post-digestive effect. Considered in this light, amla is particularly helpful in reducing pitta because of its cooling energy. It also balances both Pitta and vata by virtue of its sweet taste. The kapha is balanced primarily due to its 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 rejuvenative compound.
In Chinese traditional therapy, this fruit is called yuganzi (余甘子), which is used to treat throat inflammation.

Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties. There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. It may prove to have potential activity against some cancers.
One recent animal study found treatment with E. officinalis reduced severity of acute pancreatitis (induced by L-arginine in rats). It also promoted the spontaneous repair and regeneration process of the rat pancreas occurring after an acute attack.

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.

Emblica officinalis tea may ameliorate diabetic neuropathy due to aldose reductase inhibition.In rats it significantly reduced blood glucose, food intake, water intake and urine output in diabetic rats compared with the non‐ diabetic control group.

Another recent study with alloxan-induced diabetic rats given an aqueous amla fruit extract has shown significant decrease of the blood glucose, as well as triglyceridemic levels and an improvement of the liver function caused by a normalization of the liver-specific enzyme alanine transaminase activity. 


Culinary use

Maharashtra is one of the largest producers and suppliers of Indian gooseberries. In this region the fruit is commonly pickled with salt, oil, and spices. The amla fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh, tender varieties are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is traditionally consumed after meals.
In the Batak area of Sumatra, Indonesia, the inner bark is used to impart an astringent, bitter taste to the broth of a traditional fish soup known as holat.

Other uses

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.In Kerala, well beds are lined with Emblica timber (നെല്ലിപ്പലക) to get clean and sweet water for drinking and cooking.