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The Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica) 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, amla in Hindi, amlaki (আমলকী ) in Bengali, amala in Nepal Bhasa, nellikka in Malayalam, usirikai in Telugu, and nellikai in Kannada, and Tamil as well as aonla, aola, ammalaki, amla berry, dharty, aamvala, aawallaa, emblic, emblic myrobalan, Malacca tree, nillika, and nellikya in various other languages.
Additional recommended knowledge
The tree is small to medium sized, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with crooked trunk and spreading branches. The leaves are very short, petioled, ovate or oblong, 7-10cm long.  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. The fruits ripen in autumn. Its taste is bitter-sour. Being more fibrous than most fruits, it cannot be consumed raw in vast quantity; indeed, it is taken with salt. A glass of water taken immediately after eating a large fruit makes the water seem sweeter.
For medicinal purposes dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. Amla fruit is sour and astringent in primary taste,with sweet, bitter and pungent secondary tastes, and is cooling in action. It is light and dry.  It is a rasayana tonic that promotes longevity, and is especially good for the heart. It strengthen the lungs, helping to fight chronic lung problems as well as upper respiratory infections. The fruit allegedly contains 720 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of fresh fruit pulp, or up to 900 mg per 100 g of pressed juice. Apart from this it also contains tannins; a reason why even dried form retains most of the vitamin content. The fruit is an adaptogen which means it is a food grade, nontoxic herb that normalizes body function, balances the neuroendocrine system and improves immunity. In Ayurveda the fruit alone is considered a rasayana for pita. Additionally, amla forms the base for an ancient herbal restorative tonic known as Chayavan Prash. Thousands of years ago, the formula, which contains 34 herbs and fruits plus aromatic spices, clarified butter, sugar cane juice, and honey, was recorded in the Ayurvedic medical texts as a rasayana or supreme rejuvenative tonic.
The fruit contains a series of diterpenes referred to as the gibberellins, as well as the triterpene lupeol, flavonoids (e.g. kaempherol-3-O-β-Dglucoside, quercetin-3-O-β-Dglucoside), and polyphenols (e.g. emblicanin A and B,punigluconin and pedunculagin). Also present are the phyllantine and zeatin alkaloids, and a number of benzenoids including amlaic acid, corilagin, ellagic acid, 3-6-di-O-galloyl-glucose, ethyl gallate, 1,6-di-O-galloyl-β-Dglucose, 1-di-O-galloyl-β-Dglucose, putranjivain A, digallic acid, phyllemblic acid, emblicol, and alactaric acid.
Particularly in South India, the fruit is pickled with salt, oil, and spices, and also used as a primary ingredient in the Ayurvedic rasayana (5) tonic Chyawanprash and in the nourishing laxative triphala where it is mixed with chebulic and belleric myrobalans. The Caraka Samhita, the main text of Ayurvedic herbal medicine, describes emblic and chebulic myrobalans as possessing the same virtues, though they have slightly different nature.
Its extract is popularly used in inks, dyes, shampoos and hair oils. While this tree is native to India and Nepal, a relative of it is Phyllanthus acidus, which is grown in gardens and is sometimes confused with this species.
Because of the high tannin content in it, it is used as a mordant (fixing agent) for the fixation of dyes onto the fabric. It is one of the remedies used for treatment of premture graying of hair.
In Hinduism it is regarded as a sacred tree and worshipped as Mother Earth by Hindus.
Winston, David, and Steven Maimes (2007). ADAPTOGENS: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press. Contains a detailed monograph on Emblica officinalis (Amla; Indian gooseberry) as well as a discussion of health benefits.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Indian_gooseberry". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|