Amla (also known as Indian Gooseberry) is an important medicinal plant in ayurveda. The health benefits of Amla are attributed to its antioxidant, immunomodulatory, rejuvenating and anti-aging properties. These properties are found in its fruit pulp. It is a rich source of natural Vitamin C. The fruit pulp of an Amla contains 20 times more Vitamin C content than an orange.
Amla is an important ingredient of Rasayana (rejuvenating) ayurvedic medicines. It is added in commonly used ayurvedic medicine including Chyawanprash, Brahma Rasayana, Dhatri Rasayan, Amalaki Rasayana etc.
What is Amla?
Amla is a fruit and an ayurvedic herb, botanically known as Phyllanthus Emblica (Emblica Officinalis). It belongs to the Phyllanthaceae family. It is native to India. However, its plants are also found in China, South-east Asia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Its fruits are used fresh and dried. Both are known for their therapeutic, nutritional and health benefits.
The accepted botanical name of Amla is Phyllanthus Emblica. Emblica Officinalis is a botanical synonym of Phyllanthus Emblica.
|Botanical Name||Phyllanthus Emblica|
|Botanical Synonym||Emblica Officinalis|
|English Name||Indian Gooseberry & Emblic Myrobalan, Malacca Tree|
|Sanskrit Name||Amalaki, Dhatri, Dhatriphala, Amalika, Aonla, Vayastha, Vrushya, Sriphalam,|
|Also Spelled As||Amaliki|
Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)
|Infra Kingdom||STREPTOPHYTA (land plants)|
|Division||TRACHEOPHYTA/TRACHEOPHYTES (vascular plants)|
|Sub Division||SPERMATOPHYTINA/SPERMATOPHYTES (Seed Plants)|
|Genus||PHYLLANTHUS L. (LEAF FLOWER)|
|Species||PHYLLANTHUS EMBLICA (EMBLIC)|
|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.|
|Leaves||Its leaves are 8 to 10 millimeter long and 2 to 3 millimeter wide. Leaves are light to pale green in color.|
|Flowers||It has beautiful flowers, which are greenish yellow in color.|
|Fruits||Amla 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.|
|Seeds||The fruit contains dark brown seeds.|
|Bark||Its barks are shiny graying green or grayish brown in color.|
Medicinal Parts of Amla
Medicinal parts of Indian Gooseberry Plant 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 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 are refrigerant, cooling and are used to relieve constipation. (2)
Photochemistry (Active Constituents)
|Alkaloids||PHYLLANTINE, PHYLLEMBEIN, PHYLLANTIDINE|
|Amino Acids||GLUTAMIC ACID, PROLINE, ASPARTIC ACID, ALANINE, CYSTINE, LYSINE|
|Organic Acids||CITRIC ACID|
|Phenolic Compounds||GALLIC ACID, METHYL GALLATE, ELLAGIC ACID & TRIGALLAYL GLUCOSE|
|Hydrolysable Tannins||EMBLICANIN 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 Indian Gooseberry juice contains 480 mg Vitamin C, which is more than any other citrus fruit. Besides vitamin C, Indian Gooseberry 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 it have been proved responsible for antioxidant activity.
- GALLIC ACID
- ELLAGIC ACID
These are some important polyphenols present in it. 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 it, it is a used as a traditional medicine. (4)
Medicinal Properties of Amla
It has following healing properties.
- Anti-diabetic and Anti-hyperglycemic
- Digestive Stimulant
- Haematinic (increases hemoglobin levels)
- Hematogenic (helps in formation of red blood cells)
- Anti-hypertensive (as a supportive therapy)
- Mild laxative
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)
|Taste – RASA||Dominant Sour Taste and other 4 tastes except saline taste – AMAL (Sour), MADHURA (Sweet), KATU (Pungent), TIKTA (Bitter) & KASAYA (Astringent)|
|After taste – ANU-RASA||MADHURA (Sweet)|
|Main Quality – GUNA||GURU (Heavy), RUKSHA (Dry), SHEETA (Cool)|
|Potency – VIRYA||SHEETA (Cold)|
|Resultant – VIPAKA||MADHURA (Sweet)|
|Therapeutic Effect – PRABHAVA||Rejuvenation|
|DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)||Amla pacifies mainly PITTA, but it also allays the KAPHA & VATA.|
|Dhatu (Tissue) Effect||RASA, RAKTA, MEDAS & SHUKRA|
|Beneficial for Organs||Stomach, Intestines, Heart, Blood Vessels, Pancreas, Liver & Skin|
Amla 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
- 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)
- Indigestion due to increased acid production
- Acidity, gastritis, GERD
- Burning sensation in abdomen
- Fatty liver
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Peptic & duodenal ulcers
Heart & Blood
- High Cholesterol levels
- As a heart tonic
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride levels
Skin & Hairs
- Hair Fall
- Dark circle around eyes
- Acne Vulgaris or Pimples
Kidney & Bladder Disorders
- Burning sensation in urine
- Recurrent urinary tract infection
- Amla improves eyesight
- Conjunctivitis or eye flu
- Burning sensation in eyes
- Infertility due to uterine weakness (Along with ashwagandha and licorice)
Amla is beneficial in all diseases listed in this section.
Amla 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.
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:
- GALLIC ACID
- ELLAGIC ACID
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 was similar to that of GLIBENCLAMIDE, an anti-diabetic drug. It also contains flavonoids and tannins that demonstrate anti-diabetic activity. Thus, its 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. It 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 it 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. It 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. Indian Gooseberry 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, 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 its extract is more effective than ascorbic acid alone. Therefore, it 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. It modulates the some proteins, which are involved in lipid metabolism, which reduces and prevents hepatic steatosis and dyslipidemia. (11)
|Amla||2000 mg *|
|Trikatu Churna||250 mg *|
|Haldi (Turmeric) Churna||1000 mg *|
|* Twice Daily with warm water after food|
|Amla churna (2 grams) along with Pippali Rasayana (500 mg) is also beneficial in fatty liver.|
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 its juice is used as follows:
|Amla Juice||10 ml *|
|Punarnava Juice||10 ml *|
|Pippali Churna||500 mg *|
|Honey||1 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.|
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)
It 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. It 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 it have anti-anemic activity. (13)
Amla increases Iron Uptake by 19 times
Another study found that it is a low-cost treatment for anemia, which can be used by everyone and it is easily available. The important benefit of amla is it 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, it also contains tartaric acid, citric acid, malic acid and gallic acid that increase the bioavailability of iron. (14)
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, it 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 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 includes prevention of oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and antioxidant potential. It also decreases cholesterol synthesis by inhibiting enzymatic action of HMG-CoA reductase and by increasing reverse cholesterol transport. (16)
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.
It 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. Indian Gooseberry 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.
It is abundant in Vitamin C. In recent studies, Vitamin C is recognized as an essential nutrient for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. It improves the absorption of the minerals and increases bone mineral density. (17)
Amla Dosage & Administration
The dosage of 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.
|Infants||Generally not used|
|Children||3 to 6 grams|
|Adults||10 to 20 grams|
|Pregnancy||5 to 10 grams|
|Geriatric (Old age)||5 to 10 grams|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||Not Defined and can be taken in any digestible quantity|
|When to Take: However, it can be taken any time, but eating it after food is best time to get its maximum benefits, as per ayurveda.|
Fresh Amla Juice
|Infants||Generally not used|
|Children||1 tsp. (5 ml)|
|Adults||4 tsp. (20 ml)|
|Pregnancy||1 tsp. (5 ml)|
|Geriatric (Old age)||2 tsp. (10 ml)|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||Not 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 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)
|Infants||Generally not used|
|Children||Generally not used|
|Adults||3 to 6 grams *|
|Pregnancy||3 grams *|
|Geriatric (Old age)||3 grams *|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||18 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
|Adults||3 grams *|
|Geriatric (Old age)||3 grams *|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||6 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|
Indian Gooseberry 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
Indian Gooseberry in form of Churna (powder) and fruit pulp does have any side effects. However, preserved juice may cause following side effects:
- Mild abdominal discomfort
- Sore Throat (it occurs only due to contaminated Juice)
- Hyperacidity – it occurs only with juice.
- It can worsen the cold conditions.
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.
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) has a strong cooling property, which means it reduces heat and produces cooling sensation in the body. According to ayurveda, it should not be used in following health conditions due to this property:
- Productive Cough
- Common cold
- Skin dryness
- Joints pains that aggravate in Cold Environments or by cool potency foods
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) has been used in ayurveda and traditional medicine for thousands of years. Charaka Samhita describes its many benefits and includes it in many ayurvedic formulations. The following ayurvedic formulations are commonly used ayurvedic practice.