Phyllanthus emblica Linn.
Amla is a deciduous tree of the family Phyllanthaceae. It has edible fruit, referred to by the same name. Indian gooseberry is a tree that grows in India, the Middle East, and some southeast Asian countries. Indian gooseberry has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Today people still use the fruit of the tree to make medicine.
Amla fruits are a very rich source of vitamin C having an ascorbic acid content varying from 0.9% to 1.3%, the second highest among all the fruits cultivated.
The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 1–8 m (3 ft 3 in–26 ft 3 in) in height. The branchlets are not glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous; the leaves are 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 six 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 emblic is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous.
In traditional Indian medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic medicine herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. 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). Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the postdigestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura) and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).
In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash.
Commonly used in inks, shampoos and hair oils, the high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit serves as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics.
Note: in current market Amla is available in the form of Powder, Raw Fruits, Murabba, Chyawanprash, Juice, Amla Candy, etc.
References : Wikipedia, Divya Pharma, Google search & self-study, Hindustan Times
Written By: - Mr Roshan Vasantrao Pawar | Student - Indira Gandhi National Open University Delhi | School of Social Work