Indian Gooseberry (Emblica officinalis): Health benefits and side effects

Edited By Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Introduction

Emblica officinalis Gaertn or Phyllanthus emblica Linn.  belongs to Euphorbiaceae family and commonly known as Indian Gooseberry. It is one of the main three ingredients in Triphala. It is a highly nutritious sour fruit with other names like Emblic myrobalan (English), Amla (Hindi), Amlaki (Sanskrit), Yeowkan (Chinese) and Phylontha emblica (French).

Gooseberry is one of the essential components of ”Chyawanprash” and “Triphala” which is the most popular ancient medicine in India over 1000 years in Ayurveda and Unani systems (1).

Gooseberry fruits have therapeutic value with significant antioxidant, antidiabetic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective and anti-proliferative properties. Various gooseberry fruit-based products are available in the market such as candy, pickles, juice, powder, oil, spices and tablet (2).

Nutritional value of Gooseberry

Gooseberry contains a high amount of vitamin C, amino acids and minerals. Alkaloids, phenolics, flavonoids, and tannins are other components. It possesses a high amount of complex polyphenolic components than oranges, tangerines, or lemons (3).

Compound        Amount/100 g.
Water 87.87 g
Energy                                                                     44 kcal
Protein 0.88 g
Total lipid (  Fat)s 0.58 g
Carbohydrates 10.18 g
Dietary Fiber 4.3 g
Minerals
Calcium 25 mg
Iron 0.31 mg
Magnesium 10 mg
Phosphorous 27 mg
Potassium 198 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc 0.12 mg
Vitamins
Folates 6 µg
Niacin 0.30 mg
Riboflavin 0.03 mg
Thiamin 0.04 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.08 mg
Vitamin A 290 IU
Vitamin C 27.7 mg
Vitamin E 0.37  mg

Health benefits of Indian Gooseberry

Gooseberry is a storehouse of inexpensive good fruit which contains numerous health benefits let’s take a good brief of gooseberry health-promoting properties

1. Gooseberries have anticancer properties

Gooseberry is a good source of phytonutrients such as tannin (pyrogallol, chebulagic acid, gallic acid) and flavonoids like quercetin, kaempferol and their glycosides which inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. These compounds promote apoptosis. Also protects from colon, breast, prostate, leukemia and lung cancer (4) thus should be recommended to consume every day for health (5).

2. Anti-inflammatory properties of Gooseberries

Ascorbic acid, tannins, and polyphenols in gooseberry are responsible to inhibit an enzyme involved in inflammatory conditions.

Furthermore, emblicanin A and B, gallic acid, and ellagic acid in gooseberry have the antiulcer property (6). Therefore, gooseberry can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory drug and may be useful for the treatment of postoperative and neuropathic pain (7).

3. Rich in antioxidants

Gooseberry contains high levels of quercetin, rutin, and other phenolic compounds. These are helpful in neutralizing free radicals and protecting organs from damage. Thus, gooseberry can act as powerful free radical scavengers which prevent the progress of various oxidative stress-related diseases (8).

4. Gooseberry helps in controlling diabetes

Polyphenol (including gallic acid, gallotannin, ellagic acid, and corilagin), tannins and flavonoids (quercetin) found in gooseberry can be used as an anti-diabetic drug which may reduce blood sugar level without increasing adiposity (9, 10).

5. Heart-friendly Gooseberry

Gooseberry is a rich source of polyphenol, pectin, dietary fiber and tannins which is beneficial for lowering blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation. Thus consumption of these antioxidants reduces the risk of heart and atherosclerosis disease (11).

6. Healthy Liver

Gooseberry acts as an adjuvant for liver damage as it contains quercetin, gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid. Therefore, consumption of gooseberry may be helpful for hepatoprotective activity and detoxify the toxic material from the body (12).

7. Memory enhancer property of Gooseberry

Gooseberry is a good source of antioxidants which can act as a natural memory enhancer for the treatment of various cognitive disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases (13).

8. Treats heavy metal toxicity

Polluted groundwater is a major source of arsenic contamination which affects human health. Gooseberry contains a high amount of antioxidants which scavenge free radicals generated by arsenic however, gooseberry may not block arsenic deposition in tissue directly but can be used as a therapeutic agent for protecting against arsenic-mediated toxicity (14).

Gooseberry is also beneficial for inhibition of chromium (highly cytotoxic) induced oxidative damage by enhanced cell survival and decreased free radical production (15).

9. Protects from blindness

Blindness is one of the age-related macular degenerations (AMD) diseases (16). Supplementation of antioxidants such as β-glucogallin present in gooseberry may decrease the risk for age-related macular degeneration as well as diabetic complications such as cataract (17).

10. Eating gooseberry lowers hypertension

Presence of high amounts of vitamin C, cytokine-like substances such as zeatin, Z-riboside, Z-nucleotide, flavonoids,  pectin and tannins contents of a gooseberry may be helpful in lowering blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke in people with hypertension (18).

11. Gooseberry keeps stomach healthy

Gooseberry possesses antioxidant and radical scavenging activities which may protect against ulcers,  inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), consisting mainly of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), tissue injury and another gastrointestinal tract disease (19).

12. Healthy shiny hair

Gooseberry contains vitamin C and polyphenolic compounds which stimulate Dermal Papilla (DP) cell and promote hair growth.

Moreover, Amla oil also used to strengthen and promote hair growth. Dried amla powder also a vital component of shampoo and hair oil which can be used as a hair tonic for enriching hair growth and pigmentation (20).

13. Amla or Gooseberry helps in glowing skin

Amla or gooseberry is a rich source of vitamin C, minerals amino acids, and various phenolic compounds. These are excellent antioxidant and prevent oxidative stress by production of procollagen and protect human dermal fibroblasts. Therefore, Amla can be used as a therapeutic and cosmetic agent for delay sign of aging (21).

14. Gooseberry leaves improve sperm quality

A research study suggested that gooseberry leaf (50 mg/kg) is a good source of antioxidants like tannins and saponins and other phenolic contents which is favorable to reduce stress and improve sperm quality, sperm motility, improve fertility and build up lost vitality and vigor (22, 23).

15. Treats pneumonia

Amla or gooseberry contains a high source of vitamin C and flavonoids which protect against infection of bacterial colonization in the respiratory tract induced by Klebsiella pneumonia (24).

16. Gooseberry strengthens the bones

Gooseberry contains various phytochemical such as emblicanin A and B, gallic acid, and ellagic acids which are powerful free radical scavengers. These compounds are used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis by activating programmed cell death of human primary osteoclasts (25).

17. Treat early stage of HIV infection

Gooseberry contains a high amount of antioxidant which acts as an anti-HIV agent and may inhibit the early stages of the HIV replicative cycle would be very useful in treating HIV infection (26).

18. Gooseberry has antipyretic properties

Compounds like alkaloids, tannins, phenolic compounds, carbohydrates and amino acids found in gooseberry are responsible for the antipyretic property (27).

19. Analgesic properties of Gooseberry

The analgesic property of gooseberry is due to alkaloids, tannins, phenolic compounds, carbohydrates and amino acids (27).

20. Healthy oral

Presence of tannins and flavonoid in gooseberry are responsible for its antimicrobial properties, act as an herbal mouthwash possess the ability to increase salivary pH, buffering capacity and to inhibit S. mutans and Lactobacilli (28).

The side effect of Gooseberry

The gooseberry fruit has no side effect because practically no clinical study has been reported. Therefore it is safe, and no one really knows its long-term effects on a person’s health. However, some precaution we should take  before consuming gooseberries

1. Risk of bleeding

Amla possesses antiplatelet activity which may increase possibilities of bleeding when taken with drugs like aspirin, anticoagulants such as warfarin or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

2. Risk of hypoglycemic

A person who is taking insulin or drugs for diabetes should take precaution on consuming gooseberry because it decreases blood glucose level thus there are high possibilities of hypoglycemic reaction, caution should be taken before too many intakes of gooseberry.

3. Astringent property

Amla contains ascorbic acid which some time cause constipation and hyperacidity, Amla is cold and dry in nature and contain astringent property. To minimize this problem amla should be taken in the form of Jam or with almond oil and honey.

4. Disturbs iron absorption

Amla contains tannin which may obstruct with intestinal iron absorption (29).

Healthy Recipes of Gooseberry

Gooseberry juice

  1. Cut amla into pieces and blend with water.
  2.  Filter it and discard the pulp
  3. Add salt or honey and enjoy it freshly.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5567597/
  2.    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21317655
  3. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09107
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477227/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4502141/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158298/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188415/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745213/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3968711/
  10.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24577384
  11.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4390209/
  12.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23978895
  13.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075744/
  14.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4361516/
  15.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12722158
  16.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30792375
  17.  https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0031399
  18.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3326920/
  19.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1076/phbi.39.5.375.5902
  20.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429933/
  21.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18588964
  22.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305255/
  23.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27320046
  24.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19001683
  25.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2587459/
  26.  http://www.biolmedonline.com/Articles/Vol4_4_2012/Vol4_4_178-182_BM-7.pdf
  27.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037887410400306X?via%3Dihub
  28.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842725/
  29.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6203864/#R12

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