Amla, known botanically as emblica officinalis and also colloquially as aonla or Indian gooseberry, is a tender tropical fruiting tree native to the Indian subcontinent. Amla fruit is cultivated for use as a food source and in edible preparations. Both the fruit and the bark are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments and as beauty treatments. Strains of wild amla fruit trees grow in the Himalayas under decidedly un-tropical conditions, though their fruit is smaller and considered to be inferior.
High Vitamin C Content
Amla fruits are extremely rich in ascorbic acid or vitamin C, possessing an unusually high volume of up to 1,700 milligrams of vitamin C for every 100 grams of amla fruit juice or pulp. This is thought by some to be one of the highest relative volumes of asorbic acid of any natural fruit on the planet after the Barbadian cherry fruit, known botanically as malapighia glabra.
Amla, or aonla, is used by practitioners of Ayurveda to treat an extremely wide array of ailments from gastrointestinal maladies such as constipation, to water retention, to hair thinning and discoloration, jaundice and cough.
Amla is included as one of the three main ingredients in the ancient preparation triphala. Triphala is prescribed for battling dysentery, stomach ache, gas and bloat. Tinctures of the fruit and bark are also used as antiseptics and to reduce the pain of snake and scorpion attacks. The leaves are used to cleanse the mouth and freshen the breath and the seeds are burned or milled for their oil to treat infections of the skin.
Never take amla as a medical treatment without consulting your doctor first.
Amla fruit and bark are commonly used in tanning animal hides to prepare, preserve and protect the leathers before manufacture into shoes, saddles, bags and other goods. The tannins contained in the fruit and bark carry extracts called polyphenols that bond with the proteins in the leathers to desiccate, shrink and toughen them for long term use.