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Emblica Officinalis also Known as Amla and Indian Gooseberry Joins the Superfruits Ranks

Important Note: The Indian Gooseberry is also called Amalaka in Sanskrit, Amla in Hindi, Usirikayi in Telugu, Nellikayi in Tamil and kannada, Nellika in Malayalam.

You will be hearing much more about this unique, yet sour superfruit in the years ahead. The Emblica officinalis, aka Amla, aka Indian Gooseberry is enjoying a great deal of attention from the natural sciences community as a superfruit with extraordinary health benefits. Learn more about the amla fruit in this superfruits article and find out what powerful benefits it may hold.

Before reading, please be sure to review OUR Definition of what SUPERFRUITS are. Thank you.

About the Indian Gooseberry Commonly Known as Amla

Amla Superfruit aka Phyllanthus emblicaKnown for its edible fruit of the same name, the Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica, syn. Emblica officinalis) is a deciduous tree of the Euphorbiaceae family.

In its natural regions, the Indian Gooseberry is known under many different names including Amla and Amala, the tree grows to about 15 feet high and is found throughout Nepal. It is also found in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, South China and Southeast Asia.

The fruit is sour, bitter, astringent and is quite fibrous, ripening in autumn when it is harvested by hand after climbing to the upper branches where most of the fruit is borne.

Being so sour, in India it is common to eat Amla steeped in salt water and turmeric to make them palatable.

Uses of Amla in Historical and Traditional Medicines

In folk 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.

Considered a rasayana (rejuvenative) to promote longevity (in Ayurveda medicine), Amla is traditionally used to

  • enhance digestion,
  • treat constipation,
  • reduce fever,
  • purify the blood,
  • reduce cough,
  • alleviate asthma,
  • strengthen the heart,
  • benefit the eyes,
  • enliven the body, and
  • enhance the intellect.

Here are just a few of the many folk and other medical uses of various parts of the Amla fruit and tree, most of which are still in use today, beginning with the juice of the Amla fruit.

The juice of the Amla fruit is considered cooling, diuretic, laxative and traditionally used in Nepal (and other parts of the world where it is found) for;

  • burning sensations of the heart and urinary discharge,
  • thirst,
  • diseases of the heart,
  • liver complaints and
  • eye troubles.

The dried fruit is detergent and has been (still is) employed for washing the head in some parts of Nepal.

The dried fruit is also one of the ingredients of "Chyawanprash" and "Triphala" -- the infusion of three Myrobalans: Emblica (Phyllanthus emblica), Chebulic (Terminalia chebula) and Belleric (Terminalia bellirica), which is stomachic and cooling and considered as tonic. (Manandhar, 1989; ANSAB, 2003).

And the Amla dried fruit is also valued in cases of hemorrhage, jaundice, dyspepsia, diarrhea and dysentery (HMG, 1970; Manandhar, 2002).

Dried Amala fruit crushed with the fruit of Harro (Terminalia chebula) is taken with water or milk for the remedy of stomach disorders.

In many parts where it is grown, the fruit is eaten raw and also pickled. Plus the fruits, leaves and bark all contain tannin and are used for tanning purposes in various parts of Nepal (Manandhar, 1989; ANSAB, 2003).

In other traditions, Amla is believed to retard premature graying of the hair and to be a strengthener for hair follicles. It is also believed to support immunity of the skin against bacterial infection and enhance glow and lustre. It's no wonder then that it is also earning a reputation for being an anti-aging (ie. longevity) superfruit

Why We Give Amla the Superfruit Status

Recently, the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) in India has come up with a tested package of plants and medical herbs that are useful in the treatment of common illnesses and Amla aka Emblica officinalis (Phyllanthus emblica) is among those plants of medicinal importance. [link - opens in new window]

Amla - photo courtesy of WikiAmla is rich in Vitamin C and also shares one other unique characteristic shared with Strawberries... it contains ellagic acid.

Ellagic acid is a unique enzyme that reduces and often neutralizes the damaging effects of the carcinogen PAH (commonly found in cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke).

Based on its rich history as a treasured "healing fruit" it isn't surprising that in recent scientific research, the Amla is proving to be remarkable for its potential health benefits, however most (not all) studies to date have been in-vitro studies.

As you know, before considering any fruit a superfruit here at Best Liquid Vitamins, we require that scientific studies support its potential health giving properties first. Thus far, amla meets our criteria...

The Indian gooseberry (aka Amla) has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

But here is the part that really excites me. There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

In case you didn't know, I was born with the rheumatoid gene and diagnosed with osteoporosis at the age of only 22! I've had a lifelong battle with BOTH so it is no wonder I'm always keeping my ears and eyes open for news on whole food natural sources, even if they are extracts, which may help my situation.

Therefore, the Amla studies completed thus far hold a great deal of promise for me.

In addition to the above, 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.

Promising Scientific Studies of Amla Support its Newfound Fame as a Superfruit

Here are just a small handful of the scientific studies of Amla that have been completed thus far.

Cyto-protective and immunomodulating properties of Amla (Emblica officinalis) on lymphocytes: (an in-vitro study) Amla significantly inhibited Cr-induced free radical production and restored the anti-oxidant status back to control level. Amla also inhibited apoptosis and DNA fragmentation induced by Cr. Interestingly, Amla relieved the immunosuppressive effects of Cr on lymphocyte proliferation and even restored the IL-2 and γ-IFN production considerably. [link - opens in new window]

Effect of the Indian gooseberry (amla) on serum cholesterol levels in men aged 35-55 years. The effect on total serum cholesterol and its lipoprotein fractions of supplementation of the diet with amla (Emblica officinalis, Gaertn., the Indian gooseberry) was studied in normal and hypercholesterolaemic men aged 35-55 years. The supplement was given for a period of 28 d in the raw form. Both normal and hypercholesterolaemic subjects showed a decrease in cholesterol levels. Two weeks after withdrawing the supplement, the total serum cholesterol levels of the hypercholesterolaemic subjects rose significantly almost to initial levels. [link - opens in new window]

Anti-inflammatory activity of extracts from leaves of Phyllanthus emblica. Leaves and fruits of Phyllanthus emblica L. have been used for the anti-inflammatory and antipyretic treatment of rural populations in its growing areas in subtropical and tropical parts of China, India, Indonesia, and the Malay Peninsula. In the present study, leaves of Ph. emblica were extracted with ten different solvents... ...results show that the leaves of Ph. emblica have inhibitory activity on PMNs and platelets, which confirm the anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties of this plant as suggested by its use in traditional medicine. The data suggest that the plant leaves contain as yet unidentified polar compound(s) with potent inhibitory activity on PMNs and chemically different apolar molecule(s) which inhibit both prostanoid and leukotriene synthesis. [link - opens in new window]

Identification of Volatile Components in Phyllanthus emblica L. and Their Antimicrobial Activity. The volatile components and in vitro antimicrobial activities of Emblica (Phyllanthus emblica L.) essential oils (EOs) obtained by hydrodistillation (HD-EO) and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE-EO) were investigated. ...essential oils showed a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against all the tested microorganisms. Gram-positive bacteria were more sensitive to the investigated oils than Gram-negative bacteria. SFE-EO exhibited a higher anti fungal activity compared to HD-EO. [link - opens in new window]

Antiproliferative Activity of the Main Constituents from Phyllanthus emblica. Eighteen main compounds, including four norsesquiterpenoids (1—4) and 14 phenolic compounds (5—18) isolated previously from Phyllanthus emblica, together with a main constituent, proanthocyanidin polymers (19) identified at this time from the roots, were estimated for their antiproliferative activities against MK-1 (human gastric adenocarcinoma), HeLa (human uterine carcinoma), and B16F10 (murine melanoma) cells using an MTT method. All of the phenolic compounds including the major components 5—8 from the fruit juice, 8, 9, and 12 from the branches and leaves, and 19 from the roots showed stronger inhibition against B16F10 cell growth than against HeLa and MK-1 cell growth. Norsesquiterpenoid glycosides 3 and 4 from the roots exhibited significant antiproliferative activities, although their aglycon 1 and monoglucoside 2 showed no inhibitory activity against these tumor cells. [link - opens in new window]

There are plenty more scientific studies completed thus far, and plenty still underway. Don't be surprised to hear more on this powerful superfruit soon!

Additional Resources for Amla aka Emblica officinalis

Additional Resources for Amla (Emblica officinalis)

Assessment of Amala (Phyllanthus emblica) in Bajhang District, Nepal

Wikipedia - Indian gooseberry

Indian Food Forever - WONDERFUL AMLA FRUIT