Indian gooseberry is one of the precious gifts of nature to man. It contributes greatly towards health and longevity. It is a small or middle-sized deciduous tree with small, very closely set, 10 to 13 mm long leaves. The tree has pale green flowers usually in small dense clusters below the leaves. The fruits are fleshy, round with its contour indistinctly marked into 6 lobes, about 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter and pale green or yellowish in color. The fruit has a seed inside with three angles and three sides. The branches of the tree appear feathery.
Indian gooseberry contains on an average, moisture 81.8 percent, protein 0.5 percent, fat 0.1 percent, minerals 0.5 percent, fiber 3.4 percent and carbohydrates 13.7 percent, per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, iron, phosphorous, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. The seeds of the tree contain a fixed oil, phosphatides and an essential oil. The fruits bark and the leaves of the tree are rich in tannin.
Botanical Name: Emblica officinalis
Indian Name: Amla
Below are some of the medicinal properties of Indian gooseberry:
- Indian gooseberry, due to its high vitamin C content, is effective in controlling diabetes. A tablespoon of its juice, mixed with a cup of fresh bitter-gourd juice, taken daily for two months will stimulate the pancreas and enable it to secrete insulin, thus reducing the blood sugar in diabetes. Diet restrictions should be strictly observed while taking this medicine. It will also prevent eye complications in diabetes.
- Equal quantities of powered Indian gooseberry, jambul fruit and bitter-gourd provide a very useful remedy for diabetes. A tablespoon of this mixture once or twice a day would be effective in checking the progress of the disease.
- It is useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders. It is especially effective in tuberculosis of the lungs, asthma and bronchitis.
- It is considered a valuable remedy for heart disease. It tones up the functions of all the organs of the body and builds up health by destroying the heterogeneous or harmful and disease causing elements. It also renews energy.
- As an extremely rich source of vitamin C, it is very effective remedy for scurvy. Powder of the dry herb, mixed with an equal quantity of sugar, can be taken in doses of 1 teaspoon, thrice daily with milk.
- The juice of Indian gooseberry with honey is beneficial in presenting eye sight. It is useful in the treatment of conjunctivitis and glaucoma. It reduces intraocular tension in a remarkable manner. A cup of this juice mixed with honey can be taken twice daily for this condition.
- To treat rheumatism, a teaspoon of the powder of the dry fruit mixed with 2 teaspoons of jaggery can be taken twice daily for a month.
- It is a valuable remedy for enriching hair growth and pigmentation. The fruit, cut into pieces, is dried, preferably in the shade. These pieces are boiled in coconut oil till the solid matter becomes charred. This darkish oil is excellent in preventing graying. The water in which dried amla pieces are soaked overnight is also nourishing to hair and can be used for the last rinse while washing the hair.
- The dried fruit of Indian gooseberry is useful in diarrhea and dysentery. A drink made from amla, mixed with lemon juice and misri – that is, sugar candy – controls acute bacillary dysentery. One tablespoon of the paste of leaves, mixed with honey or buttermilk, can be taken for treatment the condition.
- It has revitalizing effects, as it contains an element which is very effective in preventing ageing and in maintaining strength in old age. It improves body resistance and protects the body against infection. It strengthens the heart, hair and different glands in the body.
Indian gooseberry is used in various ways. The best way to take it with the least loss of vitamin C is to eat it raw with a little salt. It is often used in the form of pickles and marmalade. It can be preserved for a long period when it is dried and powdered. The berry may also be used as a vegetable. It is boiled in a small amount of water till soft and taken with a little salt.