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Health benefits of Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis)

HEALTH BENEFITS

EMBLICA OFFICINALIS

Emblica Officinalis is arguably the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda [15]. 

The fruit also known as Indian gooseberry or Amla, has been an herbal component of Thai traditional recipes believed to slow down the aging process [1] but is also used to treat many ailments such as common cold and fever, as a diuretic, laxative, liver tonicrefrigerant, stomachic, restorative, alterativeantipyretic, anti-inflammatory, hair tonic, to prevent peptic ulcer and dyspepsia, and as a digestive [16].

It is also the source of Indian Gooseberry oil and Indian Gooseberry juice. Image: See credits under ref. [24] below.


EMBLICA OFFICINALIS

Family: Phyllantaceae

Genus: Emblica

Common name: Indian gooseberry, Amla, Emblic, Emblic myrobalan, Malacca tree


 

PRECLINICAL STUDIES


Preclinical studies have shown some Indian gooseberry benefits. Amla possesses:

  • antipyretic,
  • analgesic, 
  • anti-tussive,
  • anti-atherogenic,
  • adaptogenic,
  • cardioprotective,
  • gastroprotective,
  • anti-anaemia, 
  • anti-hypercholesterolemia,
  • wound healing,
  • anti-diarrhoeal,
  • anti-atherosclerotic,
  • hepatoprotective, 
  • nephroprotective, and
  • neuroprotective properties [16].

In traditional Indian medicine Ayurveda, the use of Emblica Officinalis extends to all parts of the plant including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers are used in various herbal preparations for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, chronic diarrhoea, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic [4] antitumour, antioxidant and analgesic [7,8,9], but how many of those properties have been scientifically founded on facts? Let's see some of them.

 

EMBLICA OFFICINALIS FOR CARIES PREVENTION


EMBLICA OFFICINALIS TREE

Streptococcus mutants, a gram-positive oral bacterium, has been traditionally identified as the primary cause of dental caries.

In spite the use of traditional pharmaceutical remedies may help to prevent this dental disease, concerns over the toxicity of some of the chemicals used to treat it, namely the anti-plaque agent chlorhexidine, have raised the interests of scientists and researchers towards the search for other more natural sources of active constituents that may help to fight caries without any undesirable side effects. Image left: Two years old Amla tree by treesftf's under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0).

One of the reasons why more and more scientists and researchers focus on active constituents provided by natural products as herbs and plants is the lack of toxicity and contraindications of most of them.

The standard antiplaque agent (cholorhexidine), which is being used in most of the dental care products, has several reports of being genotoxic [6,10].

On the contrary, the fruit of Emblica Officinalis (amla) is consumed raw which rules out every possibility of being toxic [6], something that proves how Emblica Officinalis fruit extracts could potentially be used as a source of active constituents for alternative and complementary medicine for the treatment and prevention of dental caries by inhibiting the virulence factors of Streptococcus mutans.

In another line of study, the use of Emblica Officinalis against the cariogenic effects of Streptococcus mutans, a causative micro-organism for cavities, showed how Emblica Officinalis fruit extracts could potentially be used as an alternative and complementary medicine for dental caries.

Dental caries is an irreversible localized infection that results in the progressive tooth decay [6,7]. Amla (Indian gooseberry) is also known to possess hypolipidemic properties [11]. 

 

EMBLICA OFFICINALIS AS RASAYANA


EMBLICA OFFICINALISRasayana is defined as any herb, food, or activity which confers youthfulness and cures diseases. If taken in a proper way, Rasayana prevents early ageing and keeps the person young and active, both physically and mentally [11]. Image right: Emblica Officinalis by Rajib Ghosh under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0).

At least, in one study performed using Drosophila, an organism commonly used to test Ayurvedic medicines, Emblica Officinalis showed to be able to enhance the sexual activity [12].

 

ANTI-NEOPLASTIC EFFECTS OF INDIAN GOOSEBERRY


The use of Indian gooseberry as anti-neoplastic (preventing, inhibiting or halting tumours) has also been documented in experimental studies, where it has been shown that Emblica Officinalis and some of its phytochemicals such as:

  • gallic acid,
  • ellagic acid,
  • pyrogallol,
  • some norsesquiterpenoids,
  • corilagin,
  • geraniin, 
  • elaeocarpusin, and
  • prodelphinidins B1 and B2

It also possesses antineoplastic effects [16]. Others as its radio modulator, chemo modulatory, chemopreventive effects, free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatoryantimutagenic and immunomodulatory activities, have shown to be also properties that are efficacious in the treatment and prevention of cancer [11].

Gallic acid, a type of phenolic acid, is also found in other herbs as Witch hazel and is known to exert antifungal and anti-viral properties, also used as a remote astringent that compresses blood vessels in cases of internal haemorrhages [17].

 

TRIPHALA AND PANCREATIC CANCER


Triphala is another Ayurvedic herbal Rasayana (herb, food, or activity which confers youthfulness and cures diseases), composed of equal parts of the fruits Amalaki (Phyllanthus Emblica), Bibhitaki (Terminalia Billerica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) [11,22].

In spite Triphala was already commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide range of ailments and diseases, its potential use against human pancreatic cancer has only been documented since 2008.

In 2008 scientists and researchers from the Texas Tech University of Health Sciences discovered that Triphala effective in inhibiting the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells in both cellular and in vivo model [23].

 

EMBLICA OFFICINALIS HYPOLIPIDEMIC PROPERTIES


Amla (Indian gooseberry) is also known to possess hypolipidemic properties [11]. In a study performed in ovariectomized rats, Amla Amla (Indian gooseberry) is also known to possess hypolipidemic properties [11]. In a study performed in ovariectomized rats, Amla decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol [11].

 

HEPATOPROTECTIVE ACTIVITY OF EMBLICA OFFICINALIS


Some studies indicates the propensity of Emblica Officinalis extracts to improve antioxidant defences in HepG2 cells [13]. The potential hepatoprotective activity of Emblica Officinalis is mainly attributed to the antioxidant potential exhibited by this herb [14].

In some cases the use of Emblica Officinalis as a hepatoprotective agent has been combined with quercetin, a type of flavonoid with very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in many fruits, as apple, green and black tea, onions, leaves, vegetables and even grains [19].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more info.

 

REFERENCES

[1] The Phyllanthus emblica L. infusion carries immunostimulatory activity in a mouse model. Huabprasert S, Kasetsinsombat K, Kangsadalampai K, Wongkajornsilp A, Akarasereenont P, Panich U, Laohapand T. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
[2] Hepatoprotective activity of Indian Phyllanthus. Srirama R, Deepak HB, Senthilkumar U, Ravikanth G, Gurumurthy BR, Shivanna MB, Chandrasekaran CV, Agarwal A, Shaanker RU. School of Ecology and Conservation, University of Agricultural Sciences , GKVK, Bangalore , India.
[3] Antidiabetic and antioxidant potential of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. leaves extract in streptozotocin-induced type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) rats. Nain P, Saini V, Sharma S, Nain J. M.M. College of Pharmacy, M.M. University, Mullana-Ambala, Haryana 133207, India.
[4] Antidiabetic and antioxidant potential of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. leaves extract in streptozotocin-induced type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) rats. Nain P, Saini V, Sharma S, Nain J. M.M. College of Pharmacy, M.M. University, Mullana-Ambala, Haryana 133207, India
[5] Efficacy of E. officinalis on the Cariogenic Properties of Streptococcus mutans: A Novel and Alternative Approach to Suppress Quorum-Sensing Mechanism. Hasan S, Danishuddin M, Adil M, Singh K, Verma PK, Khan AU. Medical Microbiology and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Unit, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.
[6] Efficacy of E. officinalis on the Cariogenic Properties of Streptococcus mutans: A Novel and Alternative Approach to Suppress Quorum-Sensing Mechanism. Hasan S, Danishuddin M, Adil M, Singh K, Verma PK, Khan AU. Medical Microbiology and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Unit, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.
[7] Prabu GR, Gnanamani A, Sadulla S. Guaijaverin- a plant flavonoid as potential antiplaque agent against Streptococcus mutans. J Appl Microbiol. 2006;101:487–495 [8] Comparative study of the antioxidant and reactive oxygen species scavenging properties in the extracts of the fruits of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica and Emblica officinalis. Hazra B, Sarkar R, Biswas S, Mandal N. Division of Molecular Medicine, Bose Institute, P-1/12 CIT Scheme VIIM, Kolkata-700054, India.
[9] Evaluation of anti-pyretic and analgesic activity of Emblica officinalis Gaertn. Perianayagam JB, Sharma SK, Joseph A, Christina AJ. Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry Division, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar-125001, India.
[10] Ribeiro DA, Bazo AP, da Silva Franchi CA, Marques ME, Salvadori DM. Chlorohexidine induces DNA damage in rat peripheral leukocytes and oral mucosal cells. J Periodontal Res. 2004;39:358–61.
[11] Wikipedia article on Phyllanthus emblica
[12] Ibidem Charaka Samhita [1], Rasayana Chikitsa Adhyaya. 2001;1(7):376. The effect of Emblica officinalis diet on lifespan, sexual behavior, and fitness characters in Drosophila melanogaster Pankaj Pathak,1 B. R. Guru Prasad,2 N. Anjaneya Murthy,3 and S. N. Hegde4
[13] Influence of Emblica officinalis aqueous extract on growth and antioxidant defense system of human hepatoma cell line (HepG2). Shivananjappa MM, Joshi MK. Bioscience Group, Unilever Research Centre, Whitefield, Bengaluru, India.
[14] Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of standardized herbal extracts. Hiraganahalli BD, Chinampudur VC, Dethe S, Mundkinajeddu D, Pandre MK, Balachandran J, Agarwal A. R and D Centre, Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore, India.
[15] Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Baliga MS, Dsouza JJ. Father Muller Medical College, Kankanady, Mangalore, Karnataka, India.
[16] Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Baliga MS, Dsouza JJ. Father Muller Medical College, Kankanady, Mangalore, Karnataka, India.
[17] Wikipedia article on Gallic acid.
[18] Hepatoprotective activity of Emblica officinalis and Chyavanaprash. Jose JK, Kuttan R. Amala Cancer Research Centre, Amala Nagar PO, Thrissur 680 553, Kerala, India.
[19] Hepatoprotective studies on Phyllanthus emblica Linn. and quercetin. Gulati RK, Agarwal S, Agrawal SS. Department of Pharmacology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.
[20] Plant names: Porcher Michel H. et al. 1995 - 2020, Sorting Phyllanthus Names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database (M.M.P.N.D) - A Work in Progress. Published by The University of Melbourne. Australia. <http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Phyllanthus.html > (2012).
[21] Plant names: Wikipedia article on Emblica officinalis.
[22] Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia committee. The Ayurvedic Formulary of India, Part I, 2nd English ed. New Delhi: Controller of Publications; 2003
[23] Triphala inhibits both in vitro and in vivo xenograft growth of pancreatic tumor cells by inducing apoptosis. Shi Y, Sahu RP, Srivastava SK. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Cancer Biology Center, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Pharmacy, Amarillo, Texas, USA.
[24] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).