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Health Benefits of Amla

Botanical name

Phyllanthus emblica Linn.
Embelica officinalis

Common names 

  • Dhatri, Amlaka, Adiphala (Sanskrit)
  • Amla, Amlika, Aonla (Hindi)
  • Nelli, Malanelli (Tamil)
  • Amalakkamu, Usirikai (Telugu)
  • Amalak, Bettadanelli (Kannada)
  • Amali, Ambala (Gujarathi)
  • Amla, Amlaki (Bengali)
  • Nelli (Malayalam)
  • Indian gooseberry, Embelic, myrobalan, Malacca tree (English)

Introduction

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. 

Plant morphology and harvesting

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.

Traditional 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 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.

Health benefits of Amla 

  • It gives a boost to your immunity: Vitamin C rich amla can give a boost to your immunity. Vitamin C is important for children, adults, and the elderly.
  • It is good for your heart health: Content of Vitamin C in amla is great for your heart health. It strengthens and thickens arteries in your heart. This is especially important for people who have high levels of bad cholesterol.
  • Amla is good for skin and hair: Health skin and hair is vastly dependent on your intake of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps collagen perform in the right way, thus improving your skin quality and making it tighter. Amla gives you the glowing skin you have always aspired for. You can mix amla powder with yoghurt and apply it as a face mask.  For hair, you can mix amla powder with water of coconut oil or sesame oil and massage it deep into your scalp. It can help in getting rid of dandruff, dry skin on your scalp, and improve your hair quality.
  • It reduces inflammation: Free radicals in the body can damage heart, skin and even hampers our immunity. This is because free radicals cause inflammation, which is basically the root causes of a majority of diseases. Antioxidants in amla help in neutralising free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Amla is a rich source of fibre: You must include fibre in your diet for a healthy digestive system. However, make sure that you don’t go overboard with consuming fibre as it can irritate your bowel and increase risks of irritable bowel syndrome. Include just the right amount of fibre in your diet to stay away from constipation, acidity and stomach ulcers. Amla stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, thereby reducing hyperacidity and ulcers.
  • It is great for diabetes: Amla contains chromium which is great for stabilising your blood sugar levels. It improves the insulin sensitivity of your cells, which can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

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



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