Emblica officinalis Gaertn

Synonym ► Phyllanthus emblica Linn.

Family ► Euphorbiaceae.

Habitat ► Native to tropical Southeast Asia; distributed throughout India; also planted in public parks.

English ► Emblic, Indian gooseberry.

Ayurvedic ► Aaamalaki, Aaamalaka, Dhaatri, Kaayasthaa, Amoghaa, Amritaphala, Amla, Aaamalaa, Dhaatriphala, Vayasyaa, Vrshya, Shiva, Hattha.

Siddha/Tamil ► Nellikkaai, Nelli.

Action ► Fruit—antianaemic, anabolic, antiemetic, bechic, astringent, antihaemorrhagic, antidiarrhoeal, diuretic, antidiabetic, carminative, antioxidant. Used in jaundice, dyspepsia, bacillary dysentery, eye trouble and as a gastrointestinal tonic. Juice with turmeric powder and honey is prescribed in diabetes insipidus. Seed—antibilious, antiasthmatic. Used in bronchitis. Bark—astringent. Leaf—juice is given in vomiting.

A decoction of powdered pericarp is prescribed for paptic ulcer.

Key application ► As an antacid. (Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia.).

The fruit is an important source of vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. The edible fruit tissue contains protein concentration threefold and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) concentration 160-fold than those of apple. The fruit also contains considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than apple.

The fruit gave cytokinine-like substances identified as zeatin, zeatin ribo-side and zeatin nucleotide; suspension culture gave phyllembin. Phyllem-bin exhibits CNS depressant and spasmolytic activity, potentiates action of adrenaline and hypnotic action of Nembutal.

The leaves contain gallic acid (10.8 mg/g dry basis), besides ascorbic and music acid. The methanol extract of the leaves is found to be effective in rat paw inflammation.

The bark contains tannin identified as mixed type of proanthocyanidin.

The fruit contains superoxide dis-mutase 482.14 units/g fresh weight and exhibits antisenescent (anti-aging) activity. Fruit, juice, its sediment and residue are antioxidant due to gallic acid. EtOH (50%) extract—antiviral.

Aqueous extract of the fruit increases cardiac glycogen level and decreases serum GOT, GPT and LDH in rats having induced myocardial necrosis.

Preliminary evidence suggests that the fruit and its juice may lower serum cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and phospholipids without affecting HDL levels and may have positive effect on atherosclerosis. (Eur J clin Nutr, 42, 1988, 939-944; PhytotherRes, 14, 2000, 592-595.)

Enicostemma littorale auct. non-Bl. 239

An aqueous extract of the fruit has been reported to provide protection against radiation-induced chromosomal damage in both pre-and postirradiation treatment. The fruit is reported to enhance natural killer cell activity and antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity in mice bearing Dalton's lymphoma ascites tumour. The extract of the fruit and ascorbic acid prevented hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic effects induced by lead and aluminium. The toxicity could be counteracted to a great extent by the fruit extract than by an amount of ascorbic acid alone equivalent to that contained in fruits. (The fruit can be used as a dietary supplement to counteract prolonged exposure to metals in population in industrial areas.)

The fruits are reported to activate trypsin (proteolytic enzyme) activity.

The fruits can be used as coagulant in the treatment of water and can purify low turbidity water.

The fruits can be consumed safely all round the year.

Dosage ► Fresh fruit—10-20 g; pulp juice—5-10 ml. (API Vol. I.)

Action ► Plant—sudorific, febrifuge, antiseptic. Used in infantile tympanitis and bowel complaints. Root—antidiarrhoeal. Leaf—used for otitis media under medical supervision.

The aerial parts contain pyrrolizi-dine alkaloids, senkirkine and doro-nine. Presence of simiaral, beta-sitos-terol, stigmasterol, palmitic and tria-contannic acids is also reported.

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