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Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) - Health Benefits, Medicinal Properties, Uses, Dosage

indian goosbery natural her

English: Emblic Myrobalan, Indian gooseberry,

Hindi: Amla,

Sanskrit: Amlaki

The fruits are held in high esteem and are associated with Kubera, the mythical Lord of Wealth. It is used widely in indigenous medicine and is an ingredient of triphala, an important rasayana drug thought to impart youthful vigour and strength. There are two varieties the smaller, wild type and the larger cultivated one; both are used medicinally.


Found wild and cultivated in all parts of India, especially the south, to an altitude of 1500 m

Botanical description

A small or medium-sized deciduous tree with spreading branches, a crooked trunk and a smooth exfoliating bark (Plate 42). Leaves light green, digitate compound, subsessile, 10-15 mm long and 3-8 mm wide, closely set on the branchlets. Flowers are greenish-yellow in axillary fascicles. The fruits are fleshy, globose, shining yellowish-green when ripe, and contain three loculi each containing two trigonous seeds.

Pacts used

Fruit, leaves, seed, root bark and flowers.

Traditional and modern use

The fruits are used as a general tonic, particularly in the winter, and for constipation, urinary problems, headache, anxiety, diabetes, vomiting and burning sensation. It is considered to improve memory and intelligence. A paste of the dried fruit powder is also applied to the hair and skin as a substitute for soap. The leaves are used in conjunctivitis and bronchitis and the powdered root bark mixed with honey and applied to mouth ulcers.

Ethnoveterinary usage

The fruits are used as food and the seeds applied to wounds in ruminants. All parts of the plant are used to cure cold and cough, burns, wounds, maggots in wounds, mastitis, haematuria, general poisoning and datura poisoning in particular, ringworm, sprained hoof, abscess, diarrhoea, bloody dysentery, ?. coli bacillosis, indigestion, glossitis, tympanitis, lumbar fracture and stoppage of unne.

Major chemical constituents

The fruit and most other parts of the plant contain gallic acid,' phyllemblin, phyllemblic acid, emblicol, ellagic acid, chebulagic acid, glucogallin, corilagin, 3,6-digalloyl glucose, putranjivin A, emblicanin A and B, punigluconin, pedunculagin and quercetin.

Organic acids

The fruit is a rich source of ascorbic acid.


Zeatin, zeatin riboside and zeatin nucleotide have been isolated from the fruit.

Fatty acids

Arachidic and behenic acids have been isolated from the seed oil.

Medicinal and pharmacological activities

Hypolipidaemic activity: The lipid-lowering and anti atherosclerotic actions of the fruit were evaluated in rabbits with hyperlipidaemia induced by an atherogenic diet which included cholesterol. Administration of the fresh juice of the fruit at a dose of 5 ml/kg per rabbit per day for 60 days lowered serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low-density lipoprotein levels by 82%, 66%, 77% and 90%, respectively. The lipid level of the tissues decreased significantly and regression of aortic plaques was observed. Increased amounts of cholesterol and phospholipids were excreted, suggesting the mode of absorption may have been affected. A separate study revealed that P. emblica also reduces serum, aortic and hepatic cholesterol in rabbits. In a clinical study the diet of normal and hypercholesterolaemic men aged 35-55 years was supplemented with raw P. emblica fruit for 28 days. Both groups showed a decrease in total serum cholesterol levels, which reverted almost to their initial values 2 weeks after withdrawal of the plant. The ripe fruits are one of the chief constituents of a siddha preparation used for the prevention and reversal of atherosclerotic disease.

Antiviral activity: A methanolic extract of the fruits showed significant inhibitory activity on HIV reverse transcriptase, with an ICso of about 50 IJ,glml. Putranjivin A, di-O-galloyl-?-D-glucose and digallic acid were also isolated from the fruit and shown to have antiviral activity. These exhibited a non-competitive mode of action with respect to the substrate, but competitive with respect to the template primer.

Effect on experimentally induced cytotoxicity: Toxicity induced by lead nitrate, aluminium sulphate, nickel chloride, caesium chloride and 3,4-benzo(a)pyrene was reduced by administration of an extract of the fruit, which also reduced the clastogenic effects of all four compounds. A comparative study of P. emblica extract and synthetic ascorbic acid on their capability to modify adverse effects of environmental toxins showed that the extract afforded a more pronounced protective effect in counteracting the genotoxicity induced by both AI and Pb. Similar results were found for the clastogenicity and carcinogenicity induced by nickel. The more potent effect of the extract was attributed to a synergistic action between the naturally occurring compounds present.

Hepatoprotective activity: A 50% aqueous extract of P emblica and quercetin (a flavonoid isolated from the same) for hepatoprotective action was assessed using country-made liquor (CML) and paracetamol-induced liver damage in albino rats and mice. The possible mechanism of action for their hepatoprotective activity was thought to be by decreasing glutathione depletion and prevention of stimulation of cytochrome. Since quercetin was more effective than the extract it was considered to be the active principle. Toxic effects induced by lead nitrate and aluminium sulphate were also counteracted by the administration of P emblica fruit extract and ascorbic acid in albino rats.

Hypoglycaemic activity: A combined extract containing P emblica and Curcuma longa produced a marked reduction in blood sugar levels in both normal fasting and alloxan-induced diabetic rats, with a good response in the glucose tolerance test,

Activity against acute necrotising pancreatitis: An experiment was carried out in dogs with acute pancreatitis induced by injecting a mixture of trypsin, bile and blood into the duodenal opening of the pancreatic duct. Controls were normal and sham operated and the test group was pretreated with 28 mg of extract/kg per day given orally for 15 days before inducing pancreatitis. The rise in serum amylase was significant in the control pancreatitis group but not in the others and microscopical examination revealed that cell damage and inflammation in the P emblica-treated group was lower than the untreated pancreatitis group.

Immunomodulatory activity: An aqueous extract of the fruit enhanced natural killer cell activity and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in mice, resulting in an increase in lifespan of 35% in tumour-bearing mice, The drug's antitumour action may occur through its ability to augment natural cell. mediated cytotoxicity, since a functional NK cell or K cell population was an absolute requirement for activity.

Protective effect in myocardial necrosis: An ethanolic extract of the fruits of P. emblica given orally at a dose of 1 glkg for 2 consecutive days was found to protect against isoproterenol-induced myocardial necrosis.

Antidyspepsia activity: P emblica was found to be useful in the treatment of dyspepsia,

Antioxidant and other activities: Phyllemblin showed a number of direct pharmacological actions including mild stimulation of isolated frog heart, mild cerebral depressant action, spasmolytic activity, potentiation of adrenaline and barbiturate sedation, in a similar manner to that of rutin, It was argued that rutin exerted its adrenergic action due to its antioxidant properties and it was concluded that phyllemblin, a powerful antioxidant, may be acting in the same manner.

Antimicrobial activity: Phyllemblin was found to have activity against Staph, aureus, Heali, Staph. typhosa, C albicans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Xanthomonas campestris.

Antiinflammatory and antipyretic activity: Extracts of the leaves inhibited polymorphonuclear leucocyte (PMN) and platelet activity, supporting their antiinflammatory and antipyretic action.

Safety profile

The fruits are considered a food and no toxicity has been noted.


  • Fresh fruit: As required Infusion: 10-15 ml Powder: 3-6 g

Ayurvedic properties

  • Rasa: Five rasas (except lavana rasa)
  • Guna: Guru (heavy), ruksha (dry)
  • Veerya: Shita (cold)
  • Vipaka: Madhur (sweet)
  • Dosha: Pacifies tridosha

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