The scientific name for Indian gooseberry is Phyllanthus Emblica. In India, this is popularly known by the name amla and they are edible fruits produced in small trees. Even though indian gooseberry and gooseberry commonly found in Europe and other parts of the world are similar species, they are not the same.
Amla is reputed for the high medicinal value and they are used in a number of traditional medicines to treat age related diseases, inflammations and most particularly diabetes. The trees are not very big, but they usually attain a medium height of about 10 to 15 meters and they produce greenish yellow berries mostly during the time of autumn.
The fruits are quite hard, so you will need to chew this well. The fruit also has a very hard seed inside which you will have to remove. So it is not advisable to give the raw fruits to small kids as they can cause a choking hazard.
1. Culinary Uses
The Indian gooseberry fruits are edible even when they are raw, but the taste is quite sour and slightly bitter. It is suggested that after taking a bite of this fruit, you also take some fresh water. This is because once you have eaten a piece of this fruit and have some water afterwards, the water tastes mildly sweet, even though this may sound strange!
Due to the sourness of the fruits, most of the people prefer to pickle the berries which can be also stored for a long time. Indian gooseberries can also be cooked and added to dishes if you like. Instead of pickling, sometimes they are cooked and kept in salt water to reduce the sourness and bitterness and this can be consumed sometime later.
Cooked amla in yogurt is another great combination.
You can also make amla juice or even amla wine!
Whatever way you choose to eat the Indian gooseberries, they are extremely healthy for you. Just make sure you remove the seed inside the fruit which is quite hard, so be cautious if you want to give this to small children.
Here is a video I found in You Tube which explains how to make amla wine.
2. Medicinal Uses And Health Benefits
Indian gooseberries are very widely used in Ayurvedic medicines in India. The use of this fruit in alternative medicines for diabetes and also for treatments related to mental health problems are especially notable. The anti inflammatory properties of amla makes it an ingredient in traditional medicines used for treating arthritis.
Amla is an excellent source of Vitamin C and it contains lots of antioxidants needed for our body. In fact the Vitamin C in this fruit is said to be many times higher than the Vitamin C content in an average orange. This fruit is also high in fiber and so it is excellent for your digestive health. The antioxidants in these fruits can prevent free radical formations and has anti cancer properties.
There are actually far more health benefits for consuming this exotic fruit, including removing the toxins from the blood and as a natural remedy for ulcers.
Having this fruit regularly is also said to be excellent for the health of your eyes and also helps you prevent the cold and flu by improving the overall immunity.
3. Cosmetic Uses
Amla is also very well reputed for its ability to reduce the symptoms of ageing in humans, this may be due to the fact that the use of amla is very helpful in preventing premature greying of hair. Due to this, amla is a very commonly used ingredient in most of the herbal oils, shampoos and hair conditioners. They are also added to natural and homemade hair dyes along with henna powder.
Amla powder for hair is especially suitable for those who have dark colored hair, since the powder tends to darken the hair in a beautiful way.
Applying amla paste in your hair strands and scalp can help strengthen your hair and also help you with reducing hair fall. Amla powder is also a natural hair conditioner and it is even used as an ingredient in natural hair straighteners.
Amla powder is also great for your skin as it can rejuvenate the skin cell, reduce the symptoms of ageing and help you improve your skin health. You can mix ampla powder with water to make a paste and use it as a natural face mask or you can also add it to the ingredients for other homemade natural face masks.
VioletteRose (author) from Atlanta on April 28, 2014:
Thanks D.A.L! I am so glad you found this useful.
Dave from Lancashire north west England on April 27, 2014:
Another species of flora that I had no previous knowledge of. I have booked marked your page so that I can refer to it in the future. Thank you for adding to my knowledge of your flora. Voted up,interesting and useful.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2014:
A very interesting insight to the Indian gooseberry I learned so much more about the culinary uses of the beautiful fruit.
Tolovaj on March 30, 2014:
Very interesting. Nature still hides so many treasures ... We have similar kind of gooseberries in Europe, but I am not very familiar with them either. Thanks for the interesting presentation!
VioletteRose (author) from Atlanta on March 30, 2014:
Thank you Suzanne Day :)
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on March 30, 2014:
Never heard of this fruit but it sure looks like it would taste a bit bitter when raw! Thank you for introducing me to it. Voted useful.