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Indian Gooseberry
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Flowering plant
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Phyllanthaceae
Tribe: Phyllantheae
Subtribe: Flueggeinae
Genus: Phyllanthus
Species: P. emblica
Binomial name
Phyllanthus emblica

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,aamla (આમળા) in Gujarati , aavalaa (आवळा) in Marathi, amla (आँवला) in Hindi, amlaki (আমলকী) in Bengali language, nellikka (നെല്ലിക്ക) in Malayalam, nellikkai (நெல்லிக்காய்/ ನೆಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಯಿ/ ಗುಡ್ದದ ನೆಲ್ಲಿ)) in Tamil and Kannada, usiri ( ఉసిరి కాయ ) in Telugu, amala in Nepali, ma kham pom in Thai, and mak kham bom in Lao.


Plant anatomy and harvesting

The tree is small to medium sized, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with a 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. 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. 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[citation needed].

Medical research

Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties.[2] There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.[3]

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.[4][5][6]

A human pilot study demonstrated reduction of blood cholesterol levels in both normal and hypercholesterolemic men.[7] Another very 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 (ALT) activity.[8]

Although fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 445 mg/100g,[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.[10] The fruit also contains flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid.[10][11]

Traditional uses


Medicinal use

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.[12] 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).[12] Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the post-digestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura), and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).[10]

According to Ayurveda, amla is specific to pitta due to its sweet taste and cooling energy.[12] 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).[12] According to Unani System of Medicine the Mizaj of Amla is Sard Khushk so that it is very good remedy for Haar Amraz[Hot Diseases]

In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash.[10] 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.[13][14]

A jar of South Indian Andhra amla pickle

Culinary use

Particularly in South India, the fruit is pickled with salt, oil, and spices. Amla is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh tender varieties of amla are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), also amle ka murabbah a sweet dish indigenous to the northern part of India (where in the berries are soaked in sugar syrup for a long time till they are imparted the sweet flavor) is traditionally consumed after meals.

Religious use

In Hinduism, amla is regarded as a sacred tree attributed to Lakshmi[3].[citation needed],

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.[12] Amla shampoos and hair oil are traditionally believed to nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature grey hair.[citation needed]

Names in other languages

Other names for Indian gooseberry include olay in Punjabi, awla in Marathi, heikru in Manipuri, nelli (නෙල්ලි) in Sinhala, nellikka in Malayalam, amlakhi in Assamese, usirikai in Telugu, and nellikkaai (நெல்லிக்காய்) 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. In Arabic it is known as haliilaj or ihliilaj, from which is derived the word ihliilaji with the sense 'elliptical', presumably because of the fruit's shape



  1. ^ "Phyllanthus emblica information from NPGS/GRIN". US Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  2. ^ Saeed S, Tariq P (Jan 2007). "Antibacterial activities of Emblica officinalis and Coriandrum sativum against Gram negative urinary pathogens". Pak J Pharm Sci 20 (1): 32–5. PMID 17337425. 
  3. ^ Penolazzi L et al. Induction of apoptosis of human primary osteoclasts treated with extracts from the medicinal plant Emblica officinalis. BMC Compl Altern Med 2008;8:59[1]
  4. ^ Ganju L, Karan D, Chanda S, Srivastava KK, Sawhney RC, Selvamurthy W (Sep 2003). "Immunomodulatory effects of agents of plant origin". Biomed Pharmacother. 57 (7): 296–300. PMID 14499177. 
  5. ^ Yokozawa T, Kim HY, Kim HJ, et al. (Sep 2007). "Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) attenuates age-related renal dysfunction by oxidative stress". J Agric Food Chem. 55 (19): 7744–52. doi:10.1021/jf072105s. PMID 17715896. 
  6. ^ Rao TP, Sakaguchi N, Juneja LR, Wada E, Yokozawa T (2005). "Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extracts reduce oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats". J Med Food 8 (3): 362–8. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.362. PMID 16176148. 
  7. ^ Jacob A, Pandey M, Kapoor S, Saroja R (Nov 1988). "Effect of the Indian gooseberry (amla) on serum cholesterol levels in men aged 35-55 years". Eur J Clin Nutr 42 (11): 939–44. PMID 3250870. 
  8. ^ Qureshi SA, Asad W, Sultana V (Jan 2009). [ "The Effect of Phyllantus emblica Linn on Type - II Diabetes, Triglycerides and Liver - Specific Enzyme"]. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition. 8 (2): 125–128. 
  9. ^ Tarwadi K, Agte V (Aug 2007). "Antioxidant and micronutrient potential of common fruits available in the Indian subcontinent". Int J Food Sci Nutr 58 (5): 341–9. doi:10.1080/09637480701243905. PMID 17558726. 
  10. ^ a b c d Dharmananda S. Emblic Myrobalans: Amla, Institute of Traditional Medicine [2]
  11. ^ Habib-ur-Rehman, Yasin KA, Choudhary MA, et al. (Jul 2007). "Studies on the chemical constituents of Phyllanthus emblica". Nat. Prod. Res. 21 (9): 775–81. doi:10.1080/14786410601124664. PMID 17763100. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Caldecott T. Amalaki
  13. ^ Samhita C. Ed., translation by the Shree Gulabkunverba Society, Volume 4. Chikitsa Sthana, Jamnagar, India: 1949
  14. ^ Indian Ministry of Health and Family Planning. The Ayurvedic Formulary of India. Part I. 1st ed. Delhi, 1978.

External links

Further reading

  • Winston, David; Maimes, Steven (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press. ISBN 1594771588.  Contains a detailed monograph on Emblica officinalis (Amla; Indian gooseberry; Amalaki) as well as a discussion of health benefits.
  • Puri, Harsharnjit Singh (2002). "Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica)". Rasayana: Ayurvedic Herbs for Longevity and Rejuvenation. Traditional Herbal Medicines for Modern Times, Vol. 2. Boca Raton: CRC. pp. 22–42. ISBN 0-415-28489-9. 


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Phyllanthus emblica
Phyllanthus emblica


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Malpighiales
Familia: Phyllanthaceae
Tribus: Phyllantheae
Subtribus: Flueggeinae
Genus: Phyllanthus
Species: Phyllanthus emblica


Phyllanthus emblica L.


  • Species Plantarum 2:982. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. 28119

Vernacular names

Bahasa Melayu: Pokok Melaka
English: Indian gooseberry
Français: Amla
Lietuvių: Indiškasis lapainis
മലയാളം: Nellikya
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Phyllanthus emblica on Wikimedia Commons.


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