Phyllanthus emblica L. (= Emblica officinalis Gaertn.)

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 134-135

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Phyllanthus emblica L. (= Emblica officinalis Gaertn.)


Phyllanthus emblica L. (= Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) 


Myanmar: chay-ahkya, chyahkya, set-kalwe, set-thalwe, shabyu, tasha, taya, zee-hpyu, zibyu, htakyu (Kachin), ku-hlu (Chin), sot-talwe (Mon), hkam mai, mai-mak-hkam (Shan). English: emblic, Indian-gooseberry, myrobalan.


Tropical and temperate Asia. Found growing naturally throughout Myanmar, but more commonly in Upper Myanmar and temperate regions.


Sweet, sour, and astringent in taste, with cooling properties to control agitation, promote circulation, and calm “heat”. Whole plant: A laxative. Preparations of the fruits, leaves, and seeds are used to aid digestion and urinary function. A decoction of the five parts (stem, leaf, flower, fruit, and root) is taken to cure diabetes. Bark and Root: astringent. Leaf: A decoction reduced to one-third the starting volume is used as a mouthwash for cracks on the tongue and inside the mouth, as well as for gum boils and gingivitis. Young leaves are eaten with rice vinegar or with nipa palm vinegar (made from the sap of Nypa fruticans  ) to alleviate indigestion and diarrhea. The powder is sprinkled on burns and scalded skin to treat them. A mixture of coconut oil and leaves roasted until burnt is used for sores in infants. Fruit: Used to promote longevity; alleviate coughs, asthma, and bronchitis. Also used as an anti-scorbutic, diuretic, and laxative. Juice used to treat inflammation of the eyes. The powder can be eaten mixed together with jaggery, honey, and/or molasses to cure urinary infections. Juice extracted from crushed fruit is taken with lime juice for instant relief from dysentery. A mixture of dried fruit cooked together with eel is also used for dysentery. A mixture of the paste from the dried or fresh fruit with ginger and a small amount of lime juice is applied topically for itches, rashes, ringworm and other fungal skin infections and freckles; it is also used with hsee-cho ( Orthosiphon aristatus  ) for discoloration of the cheeks. For nosebleeds, fruit is crushed very finely and applied to the head as a poultice. Seed: A wash made from crushed seeds and boiling water is used for eye infections.


Medicinal uses of this species in India are discussed in Jain and DeFilipps (1991) as follows: The bark is used on sores and pimples; tubercular fistula (in combination with bark fro three other species); and for cholera, dysentery (with other plants), and diarrhea. The leaf is used for diarrhea and sores. The fruit is used as a diuretic and laxative, as well as for indigestion, gonorrhea (with two other plants); raw fruit is used as an aperient, dried and used in haemorrhagia, diarrhea, as a liver tonic, for scurvy, and the juice as eye drops. The seed is used for asthma and stomach disorders. Perry (1980) discusses the medicinal uses of this species in South China, Indo-China, Indonesia, and India.

The fruit is considered the richest natural source known of vitamin C ("The juice contains nearly 20 times as much vitamin C as orange juice."); the "tannin (containing gallic acid, ellagic acid, and glucose) naturally present in the fruit retards the oxidation of the vitamin, so the fruit "is a valuable antiscorbutic either fresh or dry" ( Perry 1980).


Nordal (1963), Agricultural Corporation (1980), Perry (1980), Forest Department (1999).