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Amalaki
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Ayurvedic Herbs A-Z

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Amalaki

The fruit is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. The dried fruit is useful in hemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery.

In combination with iron, it is used as a remedy for anemia, jaundice and dyspepsia. Amla fruits are anabolic, anti-bacterial and resistance building. They possess expectorant, cardiotonic, antipyretic, antioxidative, antiviral and anti-emetic activities. They are also used in the treatment of leucorrhea and atherosclerosis.

Amalaki

Latin Names

English Names

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Names

Emblica officinalis Gaertn. /
Phyllanthus emblica Linn. (Euphorbiaceae)

Indian Gooseberry, Emblic Myrobalan

Amalaki, Dhatriphala

Amla, Aovla

 

Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents  |  Pharmacology

Clinical Studies |  Indications  |   Product Range  |  References

 

Habitat

The tree is commonly found in the mixed deciduous forests of India ascending to 4,500 ft. in the hills.

 

Morphology Description (Habit)

E.officinalis is a small or medium-sized deciduous tree with smooth, greenish grey, exfoliating bark. The leaves are feathery with small narrowly oblong, pinnately arranged leaflets. The fruits are depressed, globose, fleshy and obscurely 6-lobed, containing 6 trigonous seeds.

Principal Constituents

Amla is highly nutritious and is an important dietary source of Vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. The edible fruit tissue contains protein concentration 3-fold and ascorbic acid concentration 160-fold compared to that of the apple. The fruit also contains considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than apples. Glutamic acid, proline, aspartic acid, alanine, and lysine are 29.6, 14.6, 8.1, 5.4 and 5.3% respectively of the total amino acids. The pulpy portion of fruit, dried at 100- and freed from the nuts contains: gallic acid 1.32%, tannin, sugar 36.10%; gum 13.75%; albumin 13.08%; crude cellulose 17.08%; mineral matter 4.12% and moisture 3.83%. Amla fruit ash contains chromium, 2.5 ; zinc, 4; and copper, 3 ppm. Presence of chromium is of therapeutic value in diabetes. Fruit also contains phyllemblin and curcuminoides. The fruit contained 482.14 units of superoxide dismutase/g fresh weight, and exhibited antisenescent activity. The seed oil contains 64.8% linolenic acid and closely resembles linseed oil1.

Pharmacology

Aqueous extracts of E. officinalis fruit and ascorbic acid equivalent to that in the fruit extract were fed to albino mice for 7 consecutive days, followed by intraperitoneal injection of Pb(NO3)2 or Al2(SO4)3.18H2O. The ability of the crude fruit extract and ascorbic acid to counteract the toxic effects induced by these metal salts in hepatic and renal tissues of the animals were studied. Histopathological observations revealed that both the fruit extract and ascorbic acid could prevent the toxic effects induced by both metals, but the extract was more effective than ascorbic acid alone2. Feeding of Amla to the hypercholesterolemic rabbits for 12 weeks showed a two pronged effect, its feeding increased the lipid mobilization and catabolism and retarded the deposition of lipids in the extrahepatic tissues. Feeding of E. officinalis initially raised the plasma lipids and cholesterol levels but by the end of 12 weeks, their levels were reduced significantly below the levels in the control group. Lipid levels in the liver were also significantly lowered. Though lipid levels in the aorta increased during this period the increase was much less in Amla fed animals as compared to the control group. The degree of atherosclerosis at the end of 12 weeks of Amla feeding was much lower when compared to the control group3.

The relative effects of a crude aqueous extract from the fruit and an equivalent amount of synthetic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in reducing the clastogenic action of cesium chloride (CsCl) in vivo on mice bone marrow cells were compared. CsCl-induced chromosomal aberrations were observed in the mice 24 hours after exposure in frequencies that were directly proportional to the dose administered even after treatment for seven days. On the other hand, oral administration of either ascorbic acid or E. officinalis extract for seven days prior to exposure to CsCl for 24 hours reduced the frequency of chromosomal aberrations. This protective action of orally-administered E. officinalis extract against damage induced by CsCl has been reported to be of considerable importance in view of the possible entry of Cs. into edible plants from soil and subsequently into the food chain following radioactive fallout4.

E. officinalis juice was administered at a dose of 5ml/kg body weight per rabbit per day for 60 days. Serum cholesterol, TG, phospholipid and LDL levels were lowered by 82 percent, 66 percent, 77 percent and 90 percent, respectively. Similarly, the tissue lipid levels showed a significant reduction following E. officinalis juice administration. Aortic plaques were regressed. E. officinalis juice treated rabbits excreted more cholesterol and phospholipids, suggesting that the mode of absorption was affected. E. officinalis juice is an effective hypolipidemic agent and can be used as a pharmaceutical tool in hyperlipidaemic subjects5.

Clinical Studies

Clinical studies were conducted to investigate the effect of Amalaki in amla pitta (gastritis syndrome). Amalaki churna was given in 20 cases in a dose of 3g., thrice a day for seven days. The drug was found effective in 85 per cent of cases. Cases of hyperchlorhydria with burning sensation in abdominal and cardiac regions and epigastric pain were benefited6.

The fruit was used successfully in the treatment of human scurvy in the Hissar famine of 1939-407. The Therapeutic efficacy of Amalaki in cases of dyspepsia was evaluated and the results clearly indicate the efficacy of E.o. in relieving the dyspeptic symptoms as well as in promoting healing of ulcers8.

Indications

The fruit is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. The dried fruit is useful in hemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery. In combination with iron, it is used as a remedy for anemia, jaundice and dyspepsia. Amla fruits are anabolic, anti-bacterial and resistance building. They possess expectorant, cardiotonic, antipyretic, antioxidative, antiviral and anti-emetic activities. They are also used in the treatment of leucorrhea and atherosclerosis.

Product Range

 

References

1.       Chem Abstr , 1992, 116, 19982, 127273; 1993, 119, 103470; 1989, 110, 73906; Vohora, Indian Drugs, 1989, 26(10), 526; Janjua, Hamdard, 1991, 34(2), 104; Yaqeenudin et. al., Pakist J Sci Ind Res, 1990, 33, 268.

2.       Roy, A.K. et. al., Int. J.of Pharmacog., 1991, v. 29(2), 117-126.

3.       Mand, J.K. et. al., J. Res. Edu. in Ind.Med., 1991, v., 10(2), 1-7.

4.       Ghosh, A. et. al., Int. J. of Pharmacog., 1993, v. 31(2), 116-120.

5.       Mathur, R. et. al., J. of Ethnopharmacol., 1996, v., 50(2), 61-68.

6.       Singh, B.N. and Sharma, P.V., J.Res. Ind. Med., 1971, 5, 223.

7.       Ramaswamy, Minor Forest Products, Mysore, 1945,55; Damodaran & Nair, Biochem. J., 1936, 30, 1014; Giri, Indian J. med. Res., 1939, 27, 429; Mitra & Ghosh,Ann. biochem. exp. Med., 1942, 2, 205; Roy & Rudra, ibid., 1941, 1, 307; Srinivasan, loc. cit.

8.       Chawla et. al., 1982, Indian J. Med. Res. 76 (Suppl.), 95-98.

Vernacular names: Sanskrit - Amalaki; Hindi - Amla; English - Emblic myrobalan; Bengali - Amlaki; Tamil - Nelli; Unani - Aamlah; Marathi - Avala; Chinese - An mole; German - Amla; Japanese - Amara

Parts Used: Dried fruit, ripe fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. Each part has a different therapeutic value and must be prepared in its own way for maximum benefits. Amalaki fruit requires a meticulous 21-step process at low heat to maintain potency of the vitamins and minerals as well as the biological intelligence of this remarkable plant.

Traditional Ayurvedic Uses:

Balances all three Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), especially Pitta.

It contains five of the six tastes, which a very rare and valuable property because it indicates how this one herb balances all the laws of nature operating in the mind and body.

Because of its well-known rejuvenate and revitalizing properties, Amalaki is a powerful Rasayana (longevity enhancer) all by itself. It therefore is often used by itself even in the Ayurveda health system, which usually recommends using herbs only in expert combinations. As a Rasayana, Amalaki helps to culture the full potential of the mind and body.

It is the most concentrated source of vitamin C in the plant kingdom, and the C has a special form that makes it very easy for the human body to assimilate. In addition to this, the vitamin C in Amalaki fruit is precisely bonded with tannins that protect it from degradation from heat and light.

Amalaki is well-known for its ability to boost bioavailaibity and absorption of calcium for healthier bones, teeth, hair and nails.

ˇ        It also improves assimilation of iron for healthy blood.

ˇ        It is especially nourishing for the eyes, heart, and digestion.

ˇ        Amalaki is also extremely effective for balancing stomach acids.

Amalaki has a special action to promote strength and lean muscle mass when used with a diet rich in protein and quality nutrients.

It is most commonly seen along with Bibhitaki and Haritaki as an ingredient in the popular Ayurvedic formula known as Triphala, which aids digestion and nourishes all the bodily tissues (the Dhatus). Triphala also acts as a laxative, helps scrub the colon, and supports the action of other ingredients in any well-balanced formula.

Combinations are Best

The ayurvedic physicians of Ayurveda do not recommend the use of single herbs for self-care due to several important reasons (see the index page of the ayurvedic herb section for details).

One of the specialties of Ayurveda is the science of herb combining that has been perfected over thousands of years of clinical practice. From this ayurvedic perspective, the study of herbs from scientific research which is based on single ingredient formulas is not very practical. This is because an herb can give a number of different effects depending on the other herbs it is combined with as well as a number of other factors such as dosage, how the herb was processed, etc. If one focuses just on the results of a study based on one ingredient, while it may be interesting, it does not give the full insight into the complete range of effects available from that particular herb.

Ayurvedic Energetics:

Rasa: sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent
Veerya: cooling
Vipaka: sweet
Guna: light, dry

Doshas: Vata / Pitta / Kapha -

Pharmacological Action: fruit: cooling, laxative, stomachic, tonic, diuretic

Clinical Research: The fruit is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C , containing up to 720 mg/100g of fresh pulp and 921 mg/100cc of pressed juice. This is approximately 20 times the vitamin C content of an orange. Amalaki fruit has, in fact, been used successfully to treat human scurvy. It is also effective in the treatment of amla pitta (peptic ulcer) , as well as in non-ulcer dyspepsia. The alcoholic extract (1gm/kg) given to isoprotenol-pretreated rats resulted in an increase in cardiac glycogen and a decrease in serum LDH, suggesting a cardioprotective action. It also demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in serum cholesterol levels and an antiatherogenic effect in rabbits.

Traditional Uses: The fruit is commonly used in the treatment of burning sensation anywhere in the body, anorexia, constipation, urinary discharges, inflammatory bowels, cough, hemorrhoids, fever, thirst, and toxicity of the blood. The juice of the fresh bark mixed with honey and turmeric is given in gonorrhea. The leaf infusion with fenugreek seeds is given in chronic diarrhea. Acute bacillary dysentery may be treated with a syrup of amalaki and lemon juice. The exudation from incisions made into the fruit is used as a collyrium in inflammatory eye conditions; the seeds are powdered and used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and biliousness. It is an ingredient in several important medicinal preparations including Triphala ("three fruits"), a laxative and carminative, and the famous Chyvanaprash, a general tonic for people of all ages which improves mental and physical well-being.

Indications: dyspepsia, peptic ulcer, general debility, constipation, hypercholesterolemia, fever.

Formulations and Dosage:
infusion: 20-30 ml bid
powder: 2-5 gm bid
Chyavanaprash: 8-12 gm qd or bid
Triphala: 2 gm bid

Ind J Med Res, 429, 1939
Srinivasan, M. Indian Gooseberry, Nature, 153:684, 1944
Dhar, dc, Srivastva, DL, and Srinivasaya, M., Studies on E. officinalis.1.Chromatographic study of some constituents of Amla, J Sci Ind Res., Sec C 15:205, 1956
Singh, BN and Sharma, PV, Effect of amalaki on amla pitta, J Res Ind Med 5 (2):223-230, 1971.
Banu, N., Patel, V., et al, Role of amalaki rasayana in experimental peptic ulcer, J Res Edn Ind Med 1(1): 29-34, 1982 Chawla, YK, Dubey, P., Singh, R., et al., Treatment of dyspepsia with amalaki (Emblica officinalis), an ayurvedic drug, Vagbhata 5(3): 24-26, 1987.
Tana, M. et al., Ind J Exp Biol 15:485, 1977.
Thakar, CP and Mandal, K., Effect of Emblica officinalis in cholesterol-induced atherosclerosis in rabbits, Ind J Med Res, 79:142-146, 1984.

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