Commonly known Indian Gooseberry or Amla are fruits of tree Phyllanthus emblica (also Euphorbiaceae Gooseberry or Emblic Myrobalam). It is native to India and found across Indian Subcontinent – from Deccan plateau to slopes of Himalaya. It is also known by other names like Nelli, Nellaka, Dhatri, Amlika, Amalaki.
Have you ever tried tangy and refreshing Indian Gooseberry Juice? Amla is used in various forms in India; basic culinary forms include pickled Amla, Amla chutney, amla jam, amla murabba, amla supari and others. This wonder fruit offers combination of 5 tastes – sour, astringent, bitter, pungent and often ends in sweet taste which is enhanced if you drink water after eating amla. Bhav-Prakash – an Ayurvedic text summarizes health benefits of Amla as –
हन्ति वांत तदम्लत्वात् पित्तं माधुर्यशैत्यतः | कफं रुक्षकषायत्वात् फलं धात्र्यारित्रदोषजित् ||
In Ayurveda, Amla fruit is sour and astringent (kashaya), sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and pungent (katu) in taste (rasa), has benefits (gunas) include light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), post digestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura), and has cooling power (shita virya). In short, all tastes /rasas for cure of all diseases.
Name of Indian Gooseberry reveals its taste; Amla means sour in Sanskrit. It is this traditional knowledge about benefits of Amla, which named it Amalaki – meaning “sustainers” or the fruit where the “goddess of prosperity presides”. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that Amla helps us live for 100 years a youthful life, full of energy. Parts of Amla tree which are beneficial include Amla fruits, its bark, leaves, flowers and seeds. Fresh or dried amla fruits are commonly used.
Traditional medicine science has advocated benefits of amla for healthy well being. When we talk about side effects or clinical studies of Amla, it should be understood that amla has been consumed in India in various forms for over 5000 years now. It is also known in Ayurveda by name – Dhatri which means “nurse” – it has powers to take care of our body. Aptly as it is mentioned in ancient – amla is sarvadosha hara – cure to all diseases.
Chinese traditional medicine also uses Yuganzi (余甘子) or Amla to treat throat inflammation. It is the same cooling and anti-inflammatory effect which Ayurveda has well documented. Chinese used Indian gooseberry fruits to moisten lungs, stop cough, and treat edema, eczema and diabetes. Unani doctors use dry amla in medicine Jawarish-e-Amla which they prescribed as cure for liver and stomach disorders, mouth and throat blisters and flatulence.
Amla is key ingredient in several ayurvedic formulations with wide range of benefits. It is part of Triphala Churna (powder of three fruits) which has got scientific validations for various medicinal properties.
Chyavanprash is jam like ayurvedic mixture with 30-50 immunity enhancing and beneficial herbs and spices. It is taken as health tonic across age groups. Today it is the oldest brand marketed; around 3000 years old, the product is marketed across globe and has market of over USD 1 billion! Around 70% of Chyavanprash is based out of Amla.
Nutritional Value of Amla
Indian Gooseberry is one of the richest natural sources of Vitamin C. Average fruit contains about 400-500 mg of Vitamin C (around 0.5-0.6% by weight), and is around 7 times of what an average adult would required daily! It is equivalent to a single Vitamin C tablet or Vitamin C supplement. Many health benefits of Indian Gooseberry can be attributed to health benefits of Vitamin C.
An average fruit contains around 3-4% of fibers, 13-14% of carbohydrates, less than 1% of Protein and fats, around 1% of minerals and balance water. Mineral contents of Amla include Calcium, Phosphorus, Chromium, Zinc, copper and Iron. Seeds of Amla bear phosphatides and essential oil.
Amla fruits also contain bioactive chemicals like gibberellins, flavonoids, polyphenols, phyllantine, zeatin alkaloids, and benzenoids. Research is active in this area to identify various bioactive chemicals which offers benefits in Amla berry.
Health benefits of Amla
Amla offers wide health benefits and mainly a preventive role in almost every health disorder. Benefits of Indian Gooseberry can be attributed to its properties as antioxidant, anti inflammatory agent, anti-microbial and gastro intestinal tonic. It helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, scurvy, reducing cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma and enhance iron absorption. Amla finds immense benefits for hair growth and skin care. Some benefits of Amla are discussed here:
Rich source of Vitamin C
Indian Gooseberry is one of the richest natural source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for key body metabolic activity including fat metabolism, immune system, nervous system and mineral absorption. Amla is helpful in preventing and treating Vitamin C deficiency diseases like Scurvy.
Digestive Tonic and treating Gastro Intestinal problems
Fresh amla juice is beneficial for function of intestine and digestive tract. Boiled amla is useful in anorexia, anemia, biliousness dyspepsia, and jaundice. Daily consumption of Raw Amla or Triphala churna reduces constipation. It is rich in fibers and has gentle laxative effect. Boiling Amla removes the laxative effect of Amla.
Amla fruits pickles are commonly used in daily Indian diet and is believed to enhance appetite and stimulate appetite in anorexia. Dried Amalaki fruit is used as a decoction which is used in treat of diarrhea, dysentery and other gastric problems. Amla consumption reduces feeling of Nausea and vomiting. In ayurveda, it is used in combination with hone for treating nausea and vomiting.
Amla aids Liver function and protection
Amla is used in treatment of liver disorders in Ayurveda and Unani medicine forms. Amalaki is used in treatment of hepatitis and cirrhosis. It is useful in rehabilitation of alcoholic people.
Home remedy for nose bleeding using Amla
Couple of drops of Amla helps prevent bleeding from nose. Paste prepared from ghee, amla and rice water is applied to head to treat nose bleeding.
Amla for Kidney problems
Amla helps in removal of toxins from body and thus assist functioning of kidney. Amla fruit preparation is recommended in ayurveda in treatment of urinary tenesmus.
Benefits of Amla for your hair
Indian Amla hair oil is quite popular in super markets. Oil prepared from Amla is considered beneficial for hair. When massaged to hair and scalp, it increases growth of hair and induces sound sleep. Amla has been traditionally used in reducing hair loss, graying of hair and loss of lusture. It is also useful in treating dandruff and lice in hair.
Today it is due to the benefits of Indian gooseberry for skin it is used in hair oil, shampoo and conditioners. It works as hair tonic and helps hair growth. Amla contains tannins which offers dark colour to hair. It is often mixed with mehendi or heena powder to enhance hair colour.
Benefits of Indian Gooseberry for Skin
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production in skin. Amla with Vitamin C helps provide soft and bright skin. Amla reduces pigmentation and offers clean looking skin. Amla forms part in skin scrub for its astringent effect and cleaning skin pores. It helps in reduction of acne and pimples. Amla helps you seek young looking skin and reduce signs of aging including wrinkles. Amla also helps detoxify body and thus prevent formation of boils and pimples. In Ayurveda, it is used in preparation of medicines for scabies and skin irritations.
Amazing Anti oxidant properties of Amla
Vitamin C in Amla exhibit antioxidant properties. It also contains other chemicasl like tannins, flavanoids which reduces oxidative stress. Study has shown Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Indian gooseberry extracts. It is because of antioxidant properties, amla is useful in controlling risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Study has shown that Leaves of Amla are anti-inflammatory and antipyretic in nature an d exhibit reduction of free radicals from body.
Indian gooseberry with its antioxidant properties has revitalizing effects on body and is helpful in preventing aging. It prevents aging and strengthens functioning of body organs.
Research has shown that Indian Gooseberry play important role in removal of beta amyloid and helps reduce risk of Alzheimer disease. Beta Amyloid increases risk of neural plaque and increases risk of Alzheimer.
Anti-inflammatory properties of Amla
Amla fruit exhibit anti inflammatory property. Amalaki Churna is used in treatment of all types of fevers, arthritis and oedema. Consumption of amla juice is beneficial in reducing arthritis pain, it reduces swelling and joint pains in arthritis. A study published in 2008 issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggest that there is measurable potential of Amla fruits in osteoarthritis and paves way for development of effective nutraceuticals for osteoarthritis care. Dry Amla powder along with jaggery is considered home remedy for rheumatism.
Amla an Antimicrobial agent
Amla fruit is found to exhibit strong anti bacterial and antiviral activity. In a study, alcohol extract of amla reduced effect of HIV from body. Paste of amla is used topically to prevent spread of conjunctivitis. A study found some specific compounds of special interest in preventing spread of malaria bacteria.
Treat your hangover with Amla juice
Drink a glass of amla juice to remove hangover and associated symptoms. People regularly consuming alcohol, medicines, pain killers tend to accumulate unwanted chemicals and toxins which are harmful for body. Amla is helpful in removing these toxins from body. Taking amla juice daily in morning is good way of detoxifying your body.
Is Indian Gooseberry good for Weight loss?
There is not much evidence on use of Indian Gosseberries for weight loss. However, Vitamin C has been considered very useful in reduction of weight. High Vitamin C diet is one of proven strategies for healthy weight loss. Vitamin C is inversely related to body mass, which means high Vitamin C reduces body mass. It was found in a study that individual with adequate vitamin C oxidizes 30% more fat.
Amla also helps in toning of body, both external and internal. Thus Amla not only reduces weight, but helps in healthy weight loss. Amla also acts as detoxifying and cleansing agent, which aids weight loss process.
Amla good on Diabetes
Amla with its antioxidant properties is found useful in preventing diabetes. It reduces oxidative stress in Type 2 Diabetes patients. Indian Gooseberry also contains choromium which has benefits in treating diabetes. It stimulates the cells which promote insulin secretion and thus help regulate blood sugar.
Amla prevents Cancer
Recent studies have that Indian Gooseberry is wonderful fruit in treating and preventing Cancer. Consumption of Amla juice by cancer patients protects body from harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A research conducted at the Amala Cancer Research Centre in Kerala, India, has found that an extract of Amla significantly inhibited production of cancer cells. Amla is considred a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Research on anticancer activities of Amla suggests that it exhibits anticancer activity against various cancer cells.
Amla good for Cardiovascular health
Research has shown that consumption of amla reduces harmful cholesterol levels in body and protects heart from wide range of risks including high blood pressure, attack and vessel blockages. Amla is rich in vitamin C and helps control blood pressure. Triphal churna acts superbly in reducing blood pressure.
Cure for Anemia using Amla
Vitamin C in Amla acts as enzyme in iron absorption in body. Amla consumption is helpful in people under treatment of iron deficiency or anemia.
Amla increases Immunity
Amla is believed to enhance immunity of body. Chyavanprash is considred great health tonic and helps in increasing immunity power of body and prevents various disorders. Amla also acts as detoxifying food or body cleansing food and improves defence mechanism of body.
Amla good for Eye sight
Wash eyes regularly with amla water is considered to improve eyesight. It is believed that daily consumption of fresh amla juice with honey is extremely useful in preserving eyesight. It is used in treatment of conjunctivitis, glaucoma and opthalmia. It relieves intraocular tension and is good supplement to improve near vision.
Healing of wound with Amla
With its strong antibacterial, wound healing, and antioxidant activities, Triphala ointment is used in management and treatment of wounds. It has been found as an excellent therapeutic formulation for infected wounds.
Respiratory disorders and Amla
Amla is helpful in treatment of sore throat, cough, cold. It is found useful in respiratory disorders like Bronchitis, Asthma and tuberculosis. Various Chinese medicine forms has been using Amla over various inflammatory disease of respiratory organs. Amla powder with honey works great on chronic dry cough.
Amla for Oral hygiene
Amla juice cleanses oral cavity and strengthens the teeth. Its anti microbial action works great on mouth ulcers. Gargling with amla juice treats ulcers, swollen lips and mouth rashes.
Treat GERD and hyperacidity with Amla
Today around 50% of population suffer from Gastro Esophageal Reflex disorder and hyperacidity. Amla is one of the best remedy for hyperacidity and GERD. Daily intake of Amla juice in morning, reduces acidity and provides relief in case of GERD symptoms. Amla acts as cooling agent, and is very refreshing during hot summer. It is the same cooling effect which pacifies acidic conditions.
Nellikai Treats White Spots on the Nails
White spot on nails is associated with deficiency of Vitamin C. Indian Gooseberry offers required Vitamin C for healthy and spotless nails.
Amla increases Fertility
Research has shown that extract of Amla reduced the spermatotoxic effect of externally induced toxic substances which reduces sperm count, sperm mobility, sperm viability and fertility rate. Amla helps in sperm production and healthy sperm cells which increases chances of fertility.
Amla as remedy for Menstrual Disorders
Dried Amla fruit taken on a regular basis is useful in menorrhagia and leucorrhea. It considered good as post-partum restorative. Mixture of Amla seed powder and honey helps in relieving white water discharge. Amla juice is beneficial in treating burning sensation in Vagina.
Benefit of Amla on epilepsy and seizures
A study published in Indian Journal of Exp. Biology found that control group administered with Amla extract responded better to epilepsy and seizures.
Amla and risk of pancreatitis
A study published in Journal of Medicinal Food found that Amla is beneficial on treating acute pancreatitis. Amla was found to improve Nucleic acid content, rate of DNA synthesis, pancreatic proteins, and pancreatic amylase content during the study.
Truly, India gooseberry classifies to be a superfood with tremendous array of health benefits.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Gladson Machado, Flickr - Lalithamba, Wikimedia - HeraldDesa