Amla (Amalaki) Indian Gooseberry (Emblica Officinalis/Phyllanthus Emblica)

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Amla (also called Amalaki in Sanskrit & Indian Gooseberry in English) is an important medicinal plant in ayurveda. Its fruit pulp is used for rejuvenation purposes and anti-ageing properties. It has potent immunomodulatory and antioxidant action, so Amla and its preparations are used in ayurvedic preventive medicines. Amalaki reduces free radicals in the body and provides good amount of nutrients, especially Vitamin C. The fruit pulp of an Amla contains 20 times more Vitamin C content than an orange.

The use of Amla in ayurvedic and folk medicines is found since thousands of years. Amla is used in form of Fresh Amla Juice, Preserved Amla Juice, Amla Candy, Amla Churna, and Amla Fruit Pulp etc. Fresh Amla Juice, Fresh Amla Fruit Pulp and Amla Powder are good options to get all its therapeutic and nutritional benefits.

Botanical Description

The accepted botanical name of Amla (Amalaki) is Phyllanthus Emblica. Scientific community has not accepted Emblica Officinalis as botanical name of Amla. Now, it is taken as synonym of Phyllanthus Emblica.

Common Names

Botanical NamePhyllanthus Emblica
Botanical SynonymEmblica Officinalis
English NameIndian Gooseberry & Emblic Myrobalan, Malacca Tree
Hindi NameAmla
Sanskrit NameAmalaki, Dhatri, Dhatriphala, Amalika, Aonla, Vayastha, Vrushya, Sriphalam,
Also Spelled AsAmaliki
Other NamesAmalakan

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA/TRACHEOPHYTES (vascular plants)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA/SPERMATOPHYTES (Seed Plants)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderROSANAE
OrderMALPIGHIALES
FamilyPHYLLANTHACEAE
GenusPHYLLANTHUS L. (LEAF FLOWER)
SpeciesPHYLLANTHUS EMBLICA (EMBLIC)

Plant Description

Native Range (Geographic Distribution)Amla is native to India and it is grown in different tropical and subtropical regions such as China, South-east Asia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.
Height (grows up to)Amla is a deciduous tree, which is medium in size, and it grows up to 8 to 18 meters.
Habitat (type of environment)It grows in tropical regions, therefore a warm, hot and humid climate is required.
LeavesIts leaves are 8 to 10 millimeter long and 2 to 3 millimeter wide. Leaves are light to pale green in color.
FlowersIt has beautiful flowers, which are greenish yellow in color.
FruitsAmla fruits are 15 to 20 millimeters long and 18 to 25 millimeter wide. It is small and spherical in shape and has a slight conic depression on both apexes.
SeedsThe fruit contains dark brown seeds.
BarkIts barks are shiny graying green or grayish brown in color.

Medicinal Parts of Amla

Medicinal parts of Amla are fruits, seeds, flowers, leaves and bark. Fresh fruit pulp is used in different ayurvedic preparations. Dried rind of fruits is ground to make powder and used as Amla Churna (Amla Powder).

Amla Fruit

Amla fruit is a laxative, diuretic, antipyretic and rejuvenative. It is used in the treatment and management of diabetes, asthma, anemia, cardiac disorders, flatulence, hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, skin diseases, cardiac disorders, intermittent fever, diarrhea and dysentery. (1)

Amla Seeds & Flowers

Amla seeds are also used for the treatment and management of bronchitis and asthma. (2)

Amla Flowers

Amla flowers are refrigerant, cooling and are used to relieve constipation. (2)

Photochemistry (Active Constituents)

Amla Contains:
AlkaloidsPHYLLANTINE, PHYLLEMBEIN, PHYLLANTIDINE
Amino AcidsGLUTAMIC ACID, PROLINE, ASPARTIC ACID, ALANINE, CYSTINE, LYSINE
CarbohydratesPECTIN
VitaminsASCORBIC ACID
FlavonoidsKAEMPFEROL, QUERCETIN
Organic AcidsCITRIC ACID
Phenolic CompoundsGALLIC ACID, METHYL GALLATE, ELLAGIC ACID & TRIGALLAYL GLUCOSE
Hydrolysable TanninsEMBLICANIN A AND B, PUNIGLUCONIN, PEDUNCULAGIN, CHEBULINIC ACID (ELLAGITANNIN), CHEBULAGIC ACID (BENZOPYRAN TANNIN), CORILAGIN (ELLAGITANNIN), GERANIIN (DEHYDROELLAGITANNIN), ELLAGOTANNIN

Antioxidants & Polyphenols

Amla is very well known for its high vitamin C content, which is a very potent antioxidant. 100 ml of Amla juice contains 480 mg Vitamin C, which is more than any other citrus fruit. Besides vitamin C, Amla is also a rich source of polyphenols that possesses antioxidant properties. A combination of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and polyphenols help to fight against oxidative stress, stimulates the immune system and keeps diseases and disorders at bay. Oxidative damage to the cells reduced in the presence of Amla extract. Such effect was due to the presence of antioxidants that scavenge free radicals.

Superoxide radicals are very harmful radicals that cause damage to the cells. Research has showed that treatment with Amla increased the activity of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme that combats oxidative stress. Higher doses of this extract were able to protect the cells better. (3)

The phenolic compounds present in Amla have been proved responsible for antioxidant activity.

  1. QUERCETIN
  2. KAEMPFEROL
  3. ISOCORILAGIN
  4. GALLIC ACID
  5. ELLAGIC ACID
  6. GERANIIN

These are some important polyphenols present in Amla (Amalaki). Production of by-products from oxidative stress further causes damage and increases the risk of several diseases and disorders. Due to presence of so many polyphenols in Amla, it is a used as a traditional medicine. (4)

Read Nutritional Facts of AMLA

Medicinal Properties of Amalaki

Amla (Amalaki) has following healing properties.

  1. Immunomodulatory
  2. Anti-diabetic and Anti-hyperglycemic
  3. Antilipemic
  4. Antioxidant
  5. Adaptogenic
  6. Antacid
  7. Demulcent
  8. Digestive Stimulant
  9. Haematinic (increases hemoglobin levels)
  10. Hematogenic (helps in formation of red blood cells)
  11. Anti-anemic
  12. Anti-inflammatory
  13. Anti-hypertensive (as a supportive therapy)
  14. Mild laxative
  15. Carminative
  16. Anticancer
  17. Anti-microbial

It has been reported that Amla possesses spasmolytic (relieves cramps and spasms), purgative (laxatives), expectorant (brings up mucus and relieves cough or congested chest), anti-bacterial, hypoglycemic (lowers high blood glucose levels), hypolipidemic (lowers high cholesterol levels), anti-pyretic (treats fever) and protects liver. The ascorbic acid content of fresh Amla has been found to be highest among all fruits. Such high ascorbic acid content and presence of other polyphenols are responsible for the pharmacologic (drug-like) property of Amla. (5)

Ayurvedic Properties

Taste – RASADominant Sour Taste and other 4 tastes except saline taste – AMAL (Sour), MADHURA (Sweet), KATU (Pungent), TIKTA (Bitter) & KASAYA (Astringent)
After taste – ANU-RASAMADHURA (Sweet)
Main Quality – GUNAGURU (Heavy), RUKSHA (Dry), SHEETA (Cool)
Potency – VIRYASHEETA (Cold)
Resultant – VIPAKAMADHURA (Sweet)
Therapeutic Effect – PRABHAVARejuvenation
DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)Amla pacifies mainly PITTA, but it also allays the KAPHA & VATA.
Dhatu (Tissue) EffectRASA, RAKTA, MEDAS & SHUKRA
Beneficial for OrgansStomach, Intestines, Heart, Blood Vessels, Pancreas, Liver & Skin

Therapeutic Indications

Amla (Amalaki) is helpful in following health conditions.

Brain & Nerves

  • Headache with burning sensation
  • Migraine with pulsing and throbbing pain
  • Memory loss
  • Mental fatigue
  • Vertigo along with gastritis, burning sensation, heartburn or acidity

Psychological Diseases

  • Anxiety with mental irritability and restlessness
  • Depression with aggressive reactions
  • Insomnia due to excess heat
  • Irritability, especially due to hot season
  • Violent mental agitation
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

Abdominal Diseases

  • Indigestion due to increased acid production
  • Acidity, gastritis, GERD
  • Heartburn
  • Burning sensation in abdomen
  • Jaundice
  • Fatty liver
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Peptic & duodenal ulcers

Heart & Blood

  • Atherosclerosis
  • High Cholesterol levels
  • As a heart tonic
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglyceride levels

Skin & Hairs

  • Hair Fall
  • Blemishes
  • Wrinkles
  • Dark circle around eyes
  • Baldness
  • Acne Vulgaris or Pimples

Kidney & Bladder Disorders

  • Burning sensation in urine
  • Recurrent urinary tract infection

Eyes

  • Amla improves eyesight
  • Conjunctivitis or eye flu
  • Burning sensation in eyes

Women’s diseases

  • Leucorrhea
  • Infertility due to uterine weakness (Along with ashwagandha and licorice)

Men’s Diseases

  • Oligospermia
  • Nightfall

Amla is beneficial in all diseases listed in this section.

Benefits & Medicinal Uses

Amla is an ancient herb, which is used as a folk medicine for the treatment and prevention of variety of ailments, especially diabetes mellitus. Amla is abundant in vitamin C and a good source of minerals and amino acids (building blocks of protein). Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which keeps oxidative stress and diseases and disorders related to it at bay. Amla pulp is an important part of various medicinal preparations. Such preparations are very effective in the treatment of headache, diabetes mellitus, liver diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

Amla is also a main ingredient of famous ayurvedic health supplement Chyawanprash. Amalaki Rasayana is also prepared using Amla and Amla Juice. These two preparations are beneficial for rejuvenative purposes and have potent anti-ageing characteristics.

Diabetes Mellitus

Amalaki (Amla/Indian Gooseberry) has anti-hyperglycemic effects. It is non-toxic and free from side effects. Amla fruit extract interferes with absorption of glucose in the gut and thus, delays the entry of glucose in the blood. Thus, it prevents sudden spike in blood glucose levels post meal. It further delays the digestion of glucose. Inhibition of disaccharidase, an enzyme that converts carbohydrate to glucose on digestion is mainly responsible for delay in the rise of blood glucose levels. (6)

Research has shown that a potent anti-diabetic property of amla fruit is attributed to the presence of various health promoting compounds such as:

  1. GALLIC ACID
  2. GALLOTANNIN
  3. ELLAGIC ACID
  4. CORILAGIN

These compounds have strong antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties that reduces oxidative stress in the pancreas and helps to normalize blood glucose levels. Amla fruit has further shown to reduce diabetic complications that are associated with constant high blood glucose levels. These complications include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Neuropathy (damage to nerves)
  • Nephropathy (damage to kidney)
  • Retinopathy (damage to eyes) (7)

Another scientific research showed that amla fruit extract increased the secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells, which further helped to lower blood glucose levels. This property of amla was similar to that of GLIBENCLAMIDE, an anti-diabetic drug. It also contains flavonoids and tannins that demonstrate anti-diabetic activity. Thus, amla fruit can be made an important part of anti-diabetic diet. (8)

It helps in the absorption of insulin in the best way that in turn brings down the sugar level. Amla regulates carbohydrate metabolism, which helps the body to respond well to insulin, thereby reducing the blood sugar level.

Nishamalaki is ayurvedic formulation, which contains Amla (Indian Gooseberry) and Haldi (Turmeric). It is also highly beneficial for diabetes. It reduces all diabetic symptoms especially frequent urination and prevents diabetic complications.

Liver Damage due to Drugs

Modern drugs cause many side effects, which mainly affect the liver functions and some cause liver damage. Scientific research has found that amla protects the liver against Paracetamol. Paracetamol is a drug that is used to treat fever and mild pain. The over-consumption of Paracetamol may cause damage to the liver. Amla is considered to as a potent liver-protective agent. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species directly damage the liver and thus, alter its normal structure and function. Amalaki is very abundant source of natural antioxidants such as tannins, flavonoids, and vitamin C. Studies have shown that such a unique antioxidant composition of amla possesses strong antioxidant properties. It scavenges free radicals and thus normalizes overall function and structure of liver. (9)

Treatment with amla has shown to reduce toxic markers and markers of inflammation. In addition to this amla extract and high content of ascorbic acid present in it has a great ability to counteract the toxic effects, which may be caused by chemicals, certain metal salts, drug overdose or over intake of alcohol. However, it was further found that amla extract is more effective than ascorbic acid alone. Therefore, amla can be used safely in the treatment of liver injury or liver damage. (10)

Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Steatosis)

Rat study suggested that Amla (Indian Gooseberry) prevents hepatic steatosis. Amla modulates the some proteins, which are involved in lipid metabolism, which reduces and prevents hepatic steatosis and dyslipidemia. (11)

In Ayurveda, Amla is used along with Pippali (Piper Longum) Churna or Trikatu Churna and Haldi (Turmeric) Churna in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

RemediesDosage
Amla2000 mg *
Trikatu Churna250 mg *
Haldi (Turmeric) Churna1000 mg *
* Twice Daily with warm water after food
Amla churna (2 grams) along with Pippali Rasayana (500 mg) is also beneficial in fatty liver.

Jaundice

Amla juice in combination with sugarcane juice or Punarnava Juice, Pippali Churna and Honey reduces bilirubin levels and treats jaundice. The most common combination of Amla juice is used as follows:

RemediesDosage
Amla Juice10  ml *
Punarnava Juice10 ml *
Pippali Churna500 mg *
Honey1 tsp. *
This mixture should be taken twice daily in jaundice. If patient feel burning sensation, then the dosage of Pippali Churna should be reduced to 125 mg and should be gradually increased to 500 mg as per tolerance of the patient.

Anemia

Amla is anti-anemic fruit. It is also rich in iron and vitamin C. Vitamin C in Amla helps better absorption of the iron. Ascorbic acid enhances the iron absorption. (12)

Amla is rich source of ascorbic acid, which is likely to enhance iron absorption from the other foods as well.

Neem Leaves with Amla in Iron Deficiency Anemia

A very recent research published in 2015 observed the positive effect of neem leaves along with amla in the treatment of anemia. Amla is a very rich source of vitamin C that increases the absorption of iron when consumed along with some iron rich foods. In this study, neem leaves were a great source of iron and amla was a rich source of vitamin C. Eating iron rich foods alone may not have a huge positive impact on iron status of the body, but with a combination of vitamin C rich foods the results will be better. After treatment with neem leaves and amla, an increase in the blood parameters such as hemoglobin was observed. Thus, it can be said that iron rich foods along with amla have anti-anemic activity. (13)

Amla increases Iron Uptake by 19 times

Another study found that amla is a low-cost treatment for anemia, which can be used by everyone and it is easily available. Amla increases the bioavailability of iron and increases the overall absorption of iron. It was further observed that iron uptake increased by 19 times when amla was consumed along with iron rich foods. Besides vitamin C, amla also contains tartaric acid, citric acid, malic acid and gallic acid that increase the bioavailability of iron. (14)

Scurvy

Amla is useful in the treatment of human scurvy because it is a very rich source of vitamin C. Scurvy is a condition, which is caused due to lack, or deficiency of vitamin C. In such individuals, it becomes very important to consume rich sources of vitamin C through diet because human body cannot make vitamin C. Research has also showed that amla contains 20 times more vitamin C as compared to orange. Therefore, amla can be easily used in the treatment and management of human scurvy. (15)

Atherosclerosis & Dyslipidemia

Amla (Emblica Officinalis) increases elasticity of blood vessels and protects them from inflammation. Inflammation of the blood vessel linings is the main cause of atherosclerosis, according to recent research studies. Indian gooseberry (Amalaki) extract reverses the condition of dyslipidemia and reduces plaque formation and intima media thickening in the aorta, according to study on hypercholesterolemic rabbits. After 4 months study, it is found that aortic lumen became normal, as was in normal control group. The possible action of the amla includes prevention of oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and antioxidant potential. Amla also decreases cholesterol synthesis by inhibiting enzymatic action of HMG-CoA reductase and by increasing reverse cholesterol transport. (16)

Gastritis

Amla acts as a natural antacid and provides relief from the symptoms of gastritis. It controls the production of acid in the stomach and reduces abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn caused by hyperacidity.

Peptic Ulcers

Amla is highly beneficial in the treatment of peptic ulcers. It works by reducing the production of acid in the stomach. Additionally, the antioxidant action produced by this medicine helps to protect the gastric mucosa from any damage and prevents ulceration. Amla (Amalaki) can prevent the complications of peptic ulcers such as gastric carcinoma. It also reduces the symptoms of peptic ulcers like pain in the abdomen, weight loss, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting.

Dosage & Administration

The dosage of Amla and its different parts is as follows:

Fresh Fruit Pulp

The dosage of fresh fruit pulp is not well defined, as it is a fruit and taken in any digestible quantity.

InfantsGenerally not used
Children3 to 6 grams
Adults10 to 20 grams
Pregnancy5 to 10 grams
Geriatric (Old age)5 to 10 grams
Maximum Possible DosageNot Defined and can be taken in any digestible quantity
When to Take: However, Amla can be taken any time, but eating it after food is best time to get its maximum benefits, as per ayurveda.

Fresh Amla Juice

InfantsGenerally not used
Children1 tsp. (5 ml)
Adults4 tsp. (20 ml)
Pregnancy1 tsp. (5 ml)
Geriatric (Old age)2 tsp. (10 ml)
Maximum Possible DosageNot Defined
When to Take: Generally, Amla Juice is recommended taking on empty stomach in the morning, but it can be consumed anytime.
How to Take: Amla Juice should be mixed in a glass of water and 1 to 2 tsp. honey should be added. Drink this on empty stomach in the morning. If one experiences some abdominal discomfort due to Amla juice after taking it on empty stomach, then he/she should take it after food mixing with 1 to 2 tsp. of honey without water.

Dried Fruit Rind Powder (Amla Churna)

InfantsGenerally not used
ChildrenGenerally not used
Adults3 to 6 grams *
Pregnancy3 grams *
Geriatric (Old age)3 grams *
Maximum Possible Dosage18 grams per day in divided dosage
* Twice Daily
When to Take: After Food or In Between Food
How to Take: Take Amla Churna with a small amount of water

Amla Seed Powder

InfantsNot recommended
ChildrenNot recommended
Adults3 grams *
PregnancyNot recommended
Geriatric (Old age)3 grams *
Maximum Possible Dosage6 grams per day in divided dosage
* Twice Daily
When to Take: After Food
How to Take: Take Amla Seed Powder (Churna) with 1 tsp. Honey

Safety Profile

Amla (Amalaki) is considerably safe for children, adults and pregnant women. Amla in natural form (Amla Pulp, Amla Churna or Amla Juice) is safer and highly recommendable for regular and long-term consumption.

Side Effects of Amla

Amla (Indian Gooseberry or Amalaki) in form of Churna (powder) and fruit pulp does have any side effects. However, preserved Amla juice may cause following side effects:

  1. Mild abdominal discomfort
  2. Sore Throat (it occurs only due to contaminated Amla Juice)
  3. Hyperacidity – it occurs only with Amla juice.
  4. Amla can worsen the cold conditions.

Toxicity

A rat study observed that amla extract when administered to rats orally at 250, 500 and 1000 milligrams/kilogram body weight per day did not cause death within 48 hours. This was further observed for 3 weeks and no ill effects or signs and symptoms of acute or chronic toxicities were observed.

Contraindications

Amla (Amalaki) has a strong cooling property, which means it reduces heat and produces cooling sensation in the body. According to ayurveda, Amla should not be used in following health conditions due to this property:

  1. Productive Cough
  2. Common cold
  3. Skin dryness
  4. Joints pains that aggravate in Cold Environments or by cool potency foods

Ayurvedic Formulations of Amla

  1. Nishamalaki
  2. Chyawanprash
  3. Amalaki Rasayana
  4. Brahma Rasayana
  5. Dhatri Lauha


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Questions & Answers (5)

  1. Anwar Moosakkan says

    It’s great to know more about ayurvedic medicines and its values in daily life. Very amazing thing is that we got all the ayurvedic medicinal plants details. Exactly it is wonderful.

  2. Praveen says

    How much Vitamin C in Amla

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      100 grams raw Amla fruit pulp contains around 478 mg Vitamin C. The value of Vitamin C content in Amla (Amalaki or Indian Gooseberry) may vary from 440 mg to 800 mg per 100 grams depending on season, variety and place of growing.

  3. deep says

    Hello sir, can Amla powder be taken with normal water before breakfast and lunch as I am taking Medohar Guggulu after my breakfast and dinner to reduce its hot potency as I am suffering acidity belching and indigestion. Please guide.

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