Indian gooseberry or Amla (Emblica officinalis) belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. The tree is found in all deciduous forests throughout the Indian subcontinent. Has many types but the Kalami Amla is most important. Though all parts of the tree have pharmacological effect, it is the fruit which constitutes the basic medication. Indian gooseberry is a commonly used food in most of the Ayurvedic supplementation in the form of fresh fruits, dried fruits, fruit pulp or as extract.
According to ayurvedic medicine, Emblica officinalis may be used as a rasayana to promote longevity, and has also been used to increase digestion, developed heart health, helps purify blood and stimulate hair growth. Amla has antioxidant, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, antitumor, antiulcerogenic, and antibacterial activity in vitro and in vivo. The effects of Indian gooseberry is attributed to its antioxidant constituents, such as vitamin C, polyphenols, tannins and flavonoids. Ripe fruit contains more vitamin C than an unripe fruit.
Includes high levels of Vitamin C Amla helps in increasing the number of red blood cells in body. Lab tests demonstrated that every 100 grams of fresh fruit provides 470 – 680 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. Antioxidants block some of the damage caused by free radicals, substances that damage DNA. Studies performed at the Niwa Institute of Immunology in Japan have demonstrated Indian gooseberry to be a strong scavenger of free radicals. Free radicals and other reactive oxygen species are produced during normal life-sustaining aerobic metabolism. In excess, these molecules can cause protein and lipid oxidation and DNA damage.
Vitamin C is important for bones and connective tissues, immune system and blood vessels. Vitamin C has been shown to stimulate both the production and function of leukocytes, particularly neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes. Lymphocytes produce antibodies that work along with phagocytes to fight infection. Vitamin C is important for maintaining a healthful heart and blood vessels by reducing oxidative stress and promoting vasodilation increasing nitric oxide bioavailability.
Alongside its strong antioxidant activity, the fruit of Amla has been reported to possess immunomodulatory, chemopreventive, antimutagenic, antiproliferative and effects that are useful in the prevention and therapy of cancer. Aqueous extract of Amla was found to be cytotoxic to L 929 cells in culture in a dose dependent manner. Vitamin C, decrease cellular DNA damage that is the critical first step in cancer initiation and as well as reduce the inflammatory changes that allow a malignant cell to grow into a dangerous tumor. A study performed by researchers at the “Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Nagasaki University” demonstrated through that amla fruit extracts avoid the growth of cancerous cells.
Indian gooseberry strengthens the liver, helping it in eliminating toxins from the body. Amla is rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, gallic acid, and tannins, which may protect against hepatoxicity-induced liver injury. Regular use helps purify the blood and support the functions of the liver. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts of amla have shown hepatoprotective effects in experiments in animals. Animal-based study reported in the March 2005 edition of “Phytotherapy Research” found that amla fruit extract has activity that may protect the liver against negative effects of medicines (isoniazid, rifampicin) used to treat tuberculosis. According to another experiment; amla extract counteracts N nitrosodiethylamine-induced liver injury via its antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anti-autophagy, and anti-apoptosis effects.
Amla was shown to decrease inflammation in laboratory experiments. Anti-inflammatory herbs protect against the long-term negative effects of chronic inflammation like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Some studies found that 500 mg of Amla a day for three months lowered CRP (C-reactive protein) levels.
This herb, may be useful as a complementary treatment for pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that secretes digestive enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract. Pancreatitis may be caused by gallstones, trauma, alcohol, drugs, tumors, infections, and genetic abnormalities. Amla is a medicinal herb used to treat pancreatic diseases. In an experiment on animals; Nucleic acid content, rate of DNA synthesis, pancreatic proteins, and pancreatic amylase content were significantly improved with the therapy.
Indian gooseberry extracts are powerful antioxidants and help prevent lipid peroxidation, which is a key step in arterial hardening and cardiovascular illness. Emblica officinalis extracts decrease total cholesterol and LDL in animal experiments. Amla has been shown in studies to decrease Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by 16 percent while increasing High-density lipoprotein (HDL) by 25 percent. An study performed on animals has revealed that the juice of Indian gooseberry helps in reducing the level of triglycerides in blood.
Researches performed on Amla fruit suggest that it has antiviral effects and tasks as an antifungal and antibacterial agent. In vitro studies aqueous and alcoholic extracts of Amla demonstrated positive effect against pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and fungi.
The presence of chromium helps to control the blood sugar level which is quite important in type 2 Diabetes (non- insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus). Regular use of Indian gooseberry helps in the secretion of insulin by stimulating the cells and reduces the blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. In a new study, 3 g of powdered Indian gooseberry a day was shown to be more effective than diabetic drug at controlling fasting blood sugar levels.
Indian gooseberry is a herb used to alleviate gastric upset, including excess acidity in the stomach. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts of Amla have shown protective and therapeutic activity in induced gastric ulcers in animal experiments. Animal-based research reported in the 2010 Research Journal of Medicinal Plant article found that Amla extract had protective activity against enterocolitis. Due to its potent, laxative effects Amla is beneficial for diarrhea and dysentery.
Amla nourishes scalp and hair roots and encourages hair growth. The dried fruit is used as shampoo. A fixed oil obtained from the berries strengthens and promotes the growth of hair. Amla oil is also, gives a cooling sensation to the skin similar to the aloevera gel effects.