Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer.
Father Muller Medical College, Kankanady, Mangalore, Karnataka, India.
Emblica officinalis Gaertn. or Phyllanthus emblica Linn, commonly known as Indian gooseberry or amla, is arguably the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda. Various parts of the plant are used to treat a range of diseases, but the most important is the fruit. The fruit is used either alone or in combination with other plants to treat many ailments such as common cold and fever; as a diuretic, laxative, liver tonic, refrigerant, stomachic, restorative, alterative, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, hair tonic; to prevent peptic ulcer and dyspepsia, and as a digestive. Preclinical studies have shown that amla possesses antipyretic, analgesic, antitussive, antiatherogenic, adaptogenic, cardioprotective, gastroprotective, antianemia, antihypercholesterolemia, wound healing, antidiarrheal, antiatherosclerotic, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, and neuroprotective properties. In addition, experimental studies have shown that amla and some of its phytochemicals such as gallic acid, ellagic acid, pyrogallol, some norsesquiterpenoids, corilagin, geraniin, elaeocarpusin, and prodelphinidins B1 and B2 also possess antineoplastic effects. Amla is also reported to possess radiomodulatory, chemomodulatory, chemopreventive effects, free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and immunomodulatory activities, properties that are efficacious in the treatment and prevention of cancer. This review for the first time summarizes the results related to these properties and also emphasizes the aspects that warrant future research to establish its activity and utility as a cancer preventive and therapeutic drug in humans.