Emblica officinalis

Emblica officinalis

Synonyms

No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Amalaki, amla, Indian gooseberry, dhatri-phala, amraphalam, amalakam, vayastha, aoula, aura, amlika, toppi, usrikayi. [1]

Description

Emblica officinalis is a moderate sized plant of the family Phyllanthaceae. Ranging in height from 8m to 18m in height, the hardwood trunk is slender and crooked. The bark is a light green to grey color, and peels easily. From the trunk stem slender branches which spread into light green branchlets, creating a broad, distichous leaf system. The leaves are glabrous and slender, roughly 13mm long and 3mm wide. In June and July, E. officinalis produces small, inconspicuous flowers which bloom along the axils of the lower leaves. The fruit of E. officinalis can grow up to 5cm in diameter, originally light green in color, but ripening to a deep red. The bitter, astringent fruit grows almost directly on the branchlets and has a core of six small, deep brown seeds.

Origin / Habitat

The fruiting, deciduous tree, Emblica officinalis can be found in the warmer, tropical areas of India, specifically the coastal areas and Kashmir. The tree produces small yellow berries growing in bunches, and is found across the country at elevation up to 1,500 meters.

Chemical Constituents

E. officinalis is very high in Vitamin C, pectin, polyphenol compounds, gallic acid, ellagic acid, corilagin, phyllantidine and phyllantine (both alkaloids).  Its ascorbic acid content ranges from 1000mg to 1700 mg per 100 grams. [3] Also found are hydrolysable tannins punigluconin, pedunculagin and emblicanin A and emblicanin B. [4]

Plant Part Used

Dried fruit, seeds, roots, leaves, bark and flowers. [1]

Traditional Use

E. officinalis is one the most valuable botanicals in Ayurveda, due to its wide variety of uses. Every individual part of the plant can be used and has a specific method of preparation depending upon the intended use. Most commonly, the preparation of Emblica officinalis involves a complicated twenty-one step process to maximize its effectiveness. Emblica officinalis can be used to balance all three doshas, but it is most effective with the Pitta dosha. As well as balancing all three doshas, Amalaki is useful because it has five of the six Rasa (tastes) lacking only the lavan (salt) rasa. This is an indication of its adaptogenic properties. Very rarely does a plant satisfy all three doshas as well as five of the six rasa. Because of this, Amalaki is listed prominently in the Charak Samhita as one of the most important rasayan herbs in Ayurveda. 

Indications for use reported in the Indian Materia Medica include Rakta-pittam, prameham, vata-raktam, giddiness, vertigo. [6] It was also used traditionally as a poltice and applied to the head of those suffering from mental disorders. 

Amalaki is one of the ingredients in Triphala, a Rasayana formula considered to be one of the most important formulas in Ayurvedic medicine. Along with the other two ingredients, Hirada and Behada, the formula acts as a tonic and is considered Tridosha in that it balances all three doshas.

Dosage

3-6g Leaf, bark flower - powder. [2]

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

While it has become a staple in Ayurvedic medicine, the Amla tree is currently used in at least 17 countries around the world for its strong antioxidant properties which have primarily been discussed in animal studies. [5][6][7]  This antioxidant activity was originally thought to be due to the high vitamin C content but later studies revealed that it is also due to the action of emblicanin A and emblicanin B. This strong antioxidant activity is also thought to be related to Amalaki’s anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic properties. [8] The antioxidant properties may be the reason that Amalaki is used in chelating heavy metals. 

Extracts of Amalaki have shown protective effects in treating gastric ulcers as it decreases gastric secretions and acidity and increases the mucous secretions in animal models. [9][10] 

While Amalaki is used by the general public for as a therapy for cancer and cancer treatments, there is no clinical data available to support this use when used as a single herb. When used in the Triphala formula, it has been found to be cytotoxic to tumor cells but not to normal cells making it a good candidate for further research into the formula’s anti-tumor properties. [11][12][13]

Extracts of the E. officinalis berries have also been studied for their use as a hepatoprotective. [14] The hepatoprotective effects were demonstrated in animal studies as enzymatic protective properties. [15] In addition, the use of Amalaki has demonstrated a moderate decrease in the severity of symptoms of hepatic fibrosis. [16][17]  

Amalaki has demonstrated antimicrobial properties in in-vitro studies against various different types of microbial assaults including human pathogens. [18][19] 

Aside from its medicinal value, the E. officinalis berries are often made into preserves and used in traditional Indian cuisine. [4] 

Clinical

No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy

Not to be used with pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No adverse events have been reported with the use of E. officinalis.

Read More

  1)  Western Herbs

References

  1. Nadkarni AK, Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay:Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd;1982.
  2. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.175-176.
  3. Parmar Dr., C. Purdue Aromatic and Medicinal Plant Index. Available from: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/amla.html. [Accessed on 4 February 2009].
  4. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  5. Bajpai M , Pande A , Tewari SK , Prakash D . Phenolic contents and antioxidant activity of some food and medicinal plants . Int J Food Sci Nutr . 2005;56:287-291.
  6. Rao TP , Sakaguchi N , Juneja LR , Wada E , Yokozawa T . Amla ( Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extracts reduce oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats . J Med Food . 2005;8:362-368.
  7. Naik GH , Priyadarsini KI , Mohan H . Evaluating the antioxidant activity of different plant extracts and herbal formulations . Res Chem Intermed . 2005;31:145-151.
  8. Sabu MC, Kuttan R. Anti-diabetic activity of medicinal plants and its relationship with their antioxidant property. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;81(2):155-160.
  9. Sairam K , Rao ChV , Babu MD , Kumar KV , Agrawal VK , Goel RK . Antiulcerogenic effect of methanolic extract of Emblica officinalis : an experimental study . J Ethnopharmacol . 2002;82:1-9.
  10. Bandyopadhyay SK , Pakrashi SC , Pakrashi A . The role of antioxidant activity of Phyllanthus emblica fruits on prevention from indomethacin induced gastric ulcer . J Ethnopharmacol . 2000;70:171-176.
  11. Shi Y, Sahu RP, Srivastava SK.Triphala inhibits both in vitro and in vivo xenograft growth of pancreatic tumor cells by inducing apoptosis. BMC Cancer. 10Oct2008;8:294.
  12. Deep G, Dhiman M, Rao AR, Kale RK.Chemopreventive potential of Triphala (a composite Indian drug) on benzo(a)pyrene induced forestomach tumorigenesis in murine tumor model system. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. Dec2005;24(4):555-563.
  13. Sandhya T, Lathika KM, Pandey BN, Mishra KP.Potential of traditional ayurvedic formulation, Triphala, as a novel anticancer drug. Cancer Lett. 18Jan2006;231(2):206-214.
  14. Jose JK, Kuttan R. Hepatoprotective Activity of Emblica Officinalis and Chyavanaprash. J Ethnopharmacol. Sep2000; 71 (1-2): 135-140.
  15. Pramyothin P , Samosorn P , Poungshompoo S , Chaichantipyuth C . The protective effects of Phyllanthus emblica Linn. extract on ethanol induced rat hepatic injury . J Ethnopharmacol . 2006;107:361-364.
  16. Tasduq SA , Mondhe DM , Gupta DK , Baleshwar M , Johri RK . Reversal of fibrogenic events in liver by Emblica officinalis (fruit), an Indian natural drug . Biol Pharm Bull . 2005;28:1304-1306.
  17. Haque R , Bin-Hafeez B , Ahmad I , Parvez S , Pandey S , Raisuddin S . Protective effects of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. in cyclophosphamide-treated mice . Hum Exp Toxicol . 2001;20:643-650.
  18. Ahmad I , Mehmood Z , Mohammad F. Screening of some Indian medicinal plants for their antimicrobial properties . J Ethnopharmacol . 1998;62:183-193.
  19. Rani P , Khullar N . Antimicrobial evaluation of some medicinal plants for their anti-enteric potential against multi-drug resistant Salmonella typhi . Phytother Res . 2004;18:670-673.