Amla, Aonla or Indian Gooseberry
Amla is perhaps the single most often mentioned herb in the Caraka Samhita (an early Ayurvedic encyclopedia on medicine). It has a reputation as a powerful rejuvenating herb. The fruit is reputed to have the highest content of vitamin C of any natural occurring substances in nature. It promotes ojas (Sanskrit for vigor) and the reproductive fluids, and is useful in the treatment of ulcers and hyperacidity. A research team discovered that when amla is taken regularly as a dietary supplement, it counteracts the toxic effects of prolonged exposure to environmental heavy metals, such as lead, aluminum, and nickel. These metals are prevalent in the environment of industrialized countries.
In the studies the pro-oxidant or oxygen radical scavenger qualities of amla suggest that it is also very effective in lowering the risk of many cancers. Other studies indicate that it is much more effective than Vitamin C alone in reducing chromosomal abnormalities. Amla juice has twenty times more vitamin C than orange juice, and natural tannins prevent oxidation of the vitamin content in a dry condition – in other words, it is heat stable. Studies indicate that the naturally occurring vitamin C is easier for the body to absorb than synthetic vitamin C. This and other studies indicate that naturally occurring vitamin C may be ten times beneficial to the body than synthetic vitamins. The Vitamin C content of amla is between 625 mg – 1814 mg per 100 grams!
Other studies show that amla increases red blood cell count and hemoglobin percentages, and patients started their anabolic phase (metabolic processes involved in protein synthesis) sooner. The dried fruit reduced cholesterol levels, indicating that amla is safe to consume on a long term basis. Amla reduces unwanted fat because it increases total protein levels; this is due to its ability to create a positive nitrogen balance and it also significantly reduces the levels of free fatty acids. In addition, amla, in a raw or natural form, reduces cholesterol and cholesterol induced atherosclerosis (Obstruction of the arteries), making it a useful natural product to fight obesity. One study shows that it prevented atheroma (degeneration of the artery walls due to fat and scar tissue). Furthermore, amla has exhibited considerable effect in inhibiting the HIV virus which ultimately results in the disease AIDS.
Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that amla is good for almost everyone on a regular basis. It reduces or eliminates the risk of environmental pollutants, normalizes cholesterol, reduces unwanted fat, cures ulcers, reduces or prevents cancer, has the highest content of vitamin C of any natural source, detoxifies the body, regulates digestion, has inhibiting effects against the HIV virus, promotes metabolic function and can produce these results in a dried, natural, unprocessed form.
Species: Emblica officinalis Gaertn., Syn.: Phyllanthus emblica L., Family: Euphorbiaceae, Origin India.
Habit: A deciduous tree of small to medium size up to 5.5 meters.
Analysis of the fruit pulp: Ascorbic acid 1094 mg/100 ml of juice
Utilization: The fruits are used for making preserves and pickles, several Ayurvedic medicinal preparations, hairwash powders, hair oils etc. The fruit and bark is also used in tanning of leather by the village tanners.
Special Features: Amla is a very rich source of vitamin C. Its ascorbic acid content ranges from 1100 to 1700 mg per 100 grams which is said to be the second highest among all the fruits next only to the Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra). Amla has been held in very high esteem in old Sanskrit and other Indian language books on medicinal plants.
The root bark is useful in ulcerative stomatitis and gastrohelcosis. The bark is useful in gonorrhoea, jaundice, diarrhea and myalgia. The leaves are useful in conjuctivitis, inflammation, dyspepsia, diarrhea and dysentery. The fruits are useful in diabetes, cough, asthma, bronchitis, cephalalgia, ophthalmopathy, dyspepsia, colic, flatulence, hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, erysipelas, skin diseases, leprosy, haematemesis, inflammations, anemia, emaciation, hepatopathy, jaundice, strangury, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhages, leucorrhoea, menorrhagia, cardiac disorders, intermittent fevers and greyness of hair. It is the principal constituent of the famous Ayurvedic restorative tonic called CHAYAVAN PRASH.
The cultivated amla is basically a tropical fruit and is highly sensitive to temperatures below 32 F. It is grown as an orchard crop in several parts of warmer India. There is a great demand for its fruits. A wild strain grows in the forests of the Western Himalayas up to an altitude of 5000 ft even at places experiences mild snowfall during winter months. So it is cold resistant. The fruits of wild amla are relatively smaller. This variant can be planted at places where the winter temperatures do not fall below 25 F. Superior cold hardy cultivars might be produced by breeding.
Dr. Chiranjit Parmar, 186/3 Jail Road, Mandi HP 175 001 INDIA, Phone: 01905-22810 , Fax: 01905-25419, E-mail: [email protected]
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