Spotlight on Amalaki (Amla or Indian Gooseberry)

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In Ayurveda, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis Gaertn. or Phyllanthus emblica Linn.) is classified as Vayasthapana (Antiageing). It is important ingredient of Triphala. Amalaki is member of family Euphorbiaceae. It is known as Amla in Hindi and Indian Gooseberry in English. Amritphala, Dhatri, Sriphala and Siva are important Sanskrit synonyms.

Emblica officinalis grows in India. It is also cultivated. E. officinalis is a medium to large deciduous tree with small leaves. Leaves are simple, symmetrically arranged, linear and elliptic. Flowers are small, green yellow. Stem is of brownish gray colour. Fruit is spherical and has conical depressions at the end of its longitudinal axis.

Chemically it contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), gallic acid and tannic acid. Vitamin C content of expressed juice is 921 mg/100 cc. The vitamin C content of expressed juice of E. officinalis is twenty times more than that of citrus fruits. Hundred grams of fresh fruit contains 470 to 680 mg of vitamin C. The vitamin C content of powdered E. officinalis can vary from 1780 to 2660 g.

As far as rasa (taste) is concerned, Amalaki is madhura (sweet), amla (sour), katu (pungent), tikata (bitter) and kshaya (astringent). Guna (physical property) is guru (heavy). Virya (potency) is shita (cold). Vipaka (post digestion effect) is madhura (sweet). Amalaki pacifies Vata, pitta and kapha. It is rasayana (tonic) in action.

Emblica officinalis is used in the treatment of common cold, gastritis, diarrhoea, jaundice, leucorrhoea and general debility. Decoction of the pericarp is given in peptic ulcer with relief. Parts used: Fruit is used in medicine. Dose: Powder (3-6g); Expressed juice (10-20 ml). Amalaki-churana, Triphala, Chyavanaprasha   and Dhatri-lauha are formulations based on Amalaki.

Pharmacological investigations:

  1. Ethanolic and acetone extract of E. officinalis exhibited antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, and Shigella dysenteriae. Phyllemblin from E. officinalis exhibited antimicrobial activity against Betousa stylophora.
  2. Water fraction of the methanolic extract of E. officinalis exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in carrageen induced paw-edema in animal models. The extract also inhibited human polymorphonuclear migration in vitro.
  3. Ethyl acetate fraction of crude methanolic extract of E. officinalis has anti–ulcer activity. In acid peptic disease, decoction of E.officinalis significantly reduced the concentration of total and free acids.
  4. Aqueous extract of E. officinalis has significant antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity.
  5. Rabbits having high levels of lipids were fed E. officinalis juice for twelve weeks. The serum-lipid levels of the animals fed with E. officinalis were significantly lowered as compared to the control group.
  6. Pyrogallol from E.officinalis has antiproliferative effects.

 

Clinical studies:

  • Anaemia: 30 patients diagnosed with anemia were selected randomly in order to study effect of Amalaki churna on Iron Deficiency Anemia. Amalaki churna was administered in dose of 3 gms/day. After one month symptomatic improvement and increase in Hb% in Group was noticed. It is noticed that Amalaki churna has positive role in prevention of Iron deficiency Anemia.
  • Hypercholsterolemia: A study investigated the effect of supplementation of the diet with Amalaki on total serum cholesterol and its lipoprotein fractions in normal and hypercholesterolaemic men in age group of between 35-55 years. Amalaki was given for a period of four weeks in the crude form. In both, normal and hypercholesterolaemic people, Amalaki decreased the serum-cholesterol levels. When the supplement was withdrawn, the total serum cholesterol levels of in case of hypercholesterolaemic group were found to be significantly higher similar to initial findings.
  • Dyslipidemia: Amlaproduced significant hypolipidemic effect along with a reduction in blood pressure. Addition of Amla to the simvastatin offers significant protection against atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (CAD). Addition of Amla resulted reduction in the dosage and adverse effect profile of simvastatin.
  • Dyspepsia: A study has been done to evaluate efficacy of Emblica officnalis in the treatment of dyspepsia. In yet another study, total 30 days treatment of Amalaki churna with Mukta Shukti Bhasma with a graded dietetic regimen was been prescribed in patients diagnosed with dyspepsia. All the patients who followed the full treatment course showed significant improvement in majority of the clinical symptoms.
  • Hyperacidity: A study was done in twenty patients to evaluate the efficacy of officinalis in hyperacidity (amlapitta in Ayurveda). The drug was given P.O. in dose of three G thrice-a-day for seven days. The drug was found to be effective in eighty-five percent cases. However the drug failed to evoke response in hyperchlorhydria.
  • Morning-sickness: The effect of Amalaki gutika was compared with Doxylamine succinate and Pyridoxine hydrochloride combination in pregnant mothers suffering from morning sickness. After a trial period of one and half moth, evaluation of overall results equally effectiveness of both the formulations.

 

KINETICS

The kinetics of ascorbic acid degradation in Emblica officinalis as well as in pure ascorbic acid solutions at initial concentrations present in Emblica officinalis over a temperature range of 50-120 degrees C (steady-state temperature) has been studied.

TOXICITY

Acute toxicity

Phyllemblin was well tolerated by mice in doses up to 100 mg/kg when given intraperitoneally in mice and upto 500 mg/kg when given orally. At doses above 500 mg/kg animals developed drowsiness and dull soon after the injection and were active again after 1-3 hours.

References

Basa SC, Shrinivasulu C. Constituents of leaves of Phyllanthus emblica Linn. Indian J Nat Prod 1987; 3:13–14.

Das B. Clinical effect of Amalaki Churna and Muktasukti Bhasma in Amlapitta (Non-ulcer dyspepsia). The Antiseptic 2011; 108(11):562-565.

Biswas G, Bhatt JK, Hemavathi KG. A comparative clinical study of hypolipidemic efficacy of Amla (Emblica officinalis) with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme-A reductase inhibitor simvastatin. Indian J Pharmacol 2012; 44(2): 238–242.

Chawla, YK, Dubey, P., Singh, R., et al., (1987): Treatment of dyspepsia with amalaki (Emblica officinalis), an Ayurvedic drug, Vagbhata 5(3): 24-26.

Dhir,R, H., Roy, A.K., Sharma, A. and Talukder , G. (1990): Protection afforded by aqueous extracts of Phyllanthus species against cytotoxicity induced by lead and aluminium salts. Phytoter. Res. 4: 172–176.

Jacob, A., et al., (1988): Effect of the Indian gooseberry (amla) on serum cholesterol levels in men aged 35-55 years. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 42: 939–944.

Mathur, R., et al., (1996): Hypolipidaemic effect of fruit juice of Emblica officinalis in cholesterol-fed rabbits. J. Ethnopharmacol. 50: 61–68.

Nisha, P. et al., (2004): A study on degradation kinetics of ascorbic acid in amla (Phyllanthus emblica L.) during cooking. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004 Aug; 55(5):415-22.

Singh, B.N. & Sharma, P.V., (1971) Effect of amalaki on amlapitta, J Res Ind Med 5 (2):223-230.

Soni K, Shukla S, Sharma E. Clinicla study on role of Amlaki Gutika in upper GIT disorders during pregnancy wsr to garbhaj chhardi (morning sickness). J Res Educ Indian Med 2008; 14(1): 41-45.

 

Additional Reading:

Effect of Indian Gooseberry on Health and Disease

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