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Botanical Name: Emblica officinalis, Gaertn

Family Name : Eupho rbiaceae

Gooseberry is a small genus of tree, native of India, Ceylon, Malaya and China. It is a medium-sized tree with' smooth greenish grey bark. Leaves feathery with small narrowing oblong, pinnately arranged leaflets. Fruits globose, 1/2-1 n" in diameter, fleshy six lobed containing six trigonous seeds.

Origin and Distribution

Gooseberries are derived mostly from two species: the European gooseberry ( Ribes grossularia ), native to the Caucasus Mountains and North Africa; and the American gooseberry ( R. hirtellum ), native to northeastern and north-central United States and adjacent parts of Canada. So-called European cultivars are pure species, but virtually all so-call American cultivars also have European genes. It is cultivated throughout India, often found in backyard home garden. It is also reported to be found in forests of India ascending up to 4500 ft.

The yellow gooseberries have usually the richest flavour for dessert, and the best wine made from them very closely resembles champagne. The red are generally the most acid, supporting the fact that acids change vegetable blues to red.

The fruit does not appear to be highly valued in the South of Europe, but further North is very popular for tarts, pies, sauces, chutneys, jams, and dessert, also for preserving in bottles for winter use. The young and tender leaves are eaten in salads.

Properties of Gooseberry

Astringent, sour, anti-scurvy, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic, antidysenteric, stomachic, laxative, hypoglycemic, anti-cancerous.

Forms of Use :- Fruit, juice and its jam, jelly & pickles.

Food Value of Gooseberry

The fruit is green when tender, changes to light yellow or brick-red colour when matured. It is sour and astringent, and occasionally eaten raw. It is used for making pickles, preserves and jellies. The fruit pulp contains (per 100 gms):

Moisture 81.2%
Protein 0.5%
Vitamin C 600 mg/100 g
Carbohydrate 14.1%
Phosphorus 0.02 mg
Iron 1.2 mg
Calcium 0.05 mg

Gooseberry fruit is probably the richest known source of vitamin C. The fruit juice contains nearly 20 times as much vitamin C as orange juice. and 'is single fruit with equal anti-scorbutic value. Feeding trials on healthy human subjects show that the vitamin present in the fruit is utilized as pure ascorbic acid. When administered to patients suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, Vitamin C saturation is more quickly reached with gooseberry powder than synthetic vitamin C, thereby showing that the former is more' readily assimilated, probably due to the presence of accessory factors or probably going synergic.

Medicinal Uses & benefits

Gooseberry fruit has been held in high esteem in indigenous medicine. Its uses are:

  1. The raw fruit is eaten as an aperient.
  2. Dried fruit is useful in haemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery.
  3. In combination with iron, it is used as a remedy for anaemia, jaundice & dyspepsia.
  4. A fermented liquor prepared from the fruit is used in jaundice, dyspepsia & cough.
  5. Emblic myrobalan is used in many compound preparations.
  6. Acute bacillary dysentery may be arrested by drinking a sherbet of amla with lemon juice.
  7. Triphala, consisting of equal parts of powdered emblic myrobalan, chebulic myrobalan (Terminalia chebu/a) and belleric myrobalan (Terminalia bellerica) is used as a laxative and in headache, biliousness, dyspepsia, constipation, piles, enlarged liver and ascites.
  8. The exudation from incisions on the fruit is used as an external application for inflammation of the eye.
  9. The dried fruit is detergent and is used as shampoo for the head.
  10. An oil extracted from the fruit is reported to have the property of promoting hair growth.
  11. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and biliousness.
  12. The leaves were formerly considered very wholesome and a corrective of gravel. An infusion taken before the monthly period will be found a useful tonic for growing girls.

A tannin containing gallic acid, ellagic acid and glucose in its molecule and naturally present in amla fruit, prevents or retards oxidation of the vitamin and renders the fruit a valuable antiscorbutic in the fresh as well as in dry condition. The antiscorbutic value is better retained by preserving the fruits in salt solution or in the form of dry powder. The dried fruit loses only 20% of its vitamin in 375 days when kept in a refrigerator, but loses 67% in the same period when stored at room temperature.

Gooseberry is very much liked in forms of pickles, murabba, jam and jelly. Since it contains ample vitamin C, it does not go stale easily.

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