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Phyllanthus emblica, also known as Emblica officinalis, or Amla, is one of the most frequently used of the Ayurvedic herbs. A member of the family Euphorbiaceae, the plant grows to become a medium-sized tree. The fruit is similar in appearance to the common gooseberry, which is botanically unrelated to Amla. Because of these similarities, however, Amla often is called “Indian gooseberry.”
Amla also is valued as a natural anti-oxidant and a rich natural source of Vitamin C derivatives. The fruit is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic, and laxative. The dried fruit is useful in treating hemorrhage, diarrhea, and dysentery. The plant is anti-bacterial, and its astringent properties prevent infection and aid in the healing of ulcers. Amla also is used as a laxative, and in the treatment of leucorrhea and artherosclerosis.
The fruits of Amla are one of three “myrobalans” (a term derived from the Greek word for “acorns”), all of which have astringent properties. They also are the principal ingredients in the popular Ayurvedic remedy Triphala, a rejuvenating rasayana that accounts for well over half of the sales in the Ayurvedic medicine industry. According to accounts in the Caraka Samhita, by consuming a rasayana made with Amla as the main ingredient, a person will “live for a hundred years without any sign of decrepitude.”
Even though it is just a diminutive inch in diameter, one Amla fruit has the same ascorbic acid content as two oranges. Thus, Amla fruit juice, sediment, and residue have powerful anti-oxidant properties. Amla also is a carminative and stomachic and is used to treat respiratory problems. Amla is used in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac, antipyretic, anti-diabetic, anabolic, and cerebral tonic. It raises the total protein level and increases body weight because of its positive nitrogen balance.
English: Emblic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry Hindi: Amla
Other names in various other languages include nelli in Sinhala, nellikka in Malayalam, amlakhi in Assames, usirikai in Telugu, nellikkaai in Tamil and Kannada, as well as aonla, aola, ammalaki, dharty, aamvala, aawallaa, emblic, Emblic myrobalan, Malacca tree, nillika, and nellikya.
The major chemical constituents of Amla are polyphenols. The fruit and most other parts of the plant contain gallic acid, phyllemblin, phyllemblic acid, emblicol, ellagic acid, chebulagic acid, glucogallin, corilagin, 3,6-digalloyl glucose, putranjivin A, emblicanin A and B, punigluconin, pedunculagin, ascorbigen A , ascorbigen B and quercetin. Amla contains Ascorbigen A and Ascorbigen B, gamma lactone and is not same as Ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid can be liberated from this. As a convenience these are often grouped together as Ascorbic acid. The key point difference is that Ascorbigen are more stable than Ascorbic acid. The tannins from Amla help further protect the Ascorbigen just like shock absorbers. They themselves trap the free radicals before oxidation of Ascorbigen can occur. The cytokinins zeatin, zeatin riboside and zeatin nucleotide have been isolated from the Amla fruit. The fatty acids arachidic and behenic acids have been isolated from the seed oil.
Amla is native to the plains in the lower mountainous regions of the Indian subcontinent. It grows at elevations of 200 to nearly 2000 meters above sea level. Amla’s natural habitat extends from Burma on the east to Afghanistan in the west, and from Deccan in south India to the foothills of the Himalayan range.
The Amla tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8 to 18 meters in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10 to 20 centimeters long, and usually deciduous. The leaves are simple, subsessile, and closely set along the branchlets. The leaves are light green, and the flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish-yellow, smooth, and hard, with six vertical stripes or furrows. The taste is sour, bitter, and astringent. It is quite fibrous.
Uses and Actions
• Hepatic support*
• Supports a healthy inflammatory response*
• Connective tissue support*
• Supports immune balance*
• Supports a healthy liver detox*
• Aids an overall detox*
• Supports eye health*
• Supports a healthy digestive system*