Affiliation: Research and Development, Father Muller Medical College, Kankanady, Mangalore, Karnataka, India 575003.
Emblica officinalis Gaertn or Phyllanthus emblica Linn, colloquially known as the Indian gooseberry or amla, is an important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda and is classified as a Hrudya which when translated means cardiotonic drug. Numerous preclinical studies with laboratory animals have shown that amla does possess cardioprotective and anticoagulant effects and is useful in delaying/preventing/ reducing experimentally induced cardiotoxicity, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, hypertension and reducing ischemic-reperfusion injury. The pleiotropic effect of amla is believed to be due to the presence of various phytochemicals and studies have shown that the tannoids (emblicanin-A and –B), gallic acid, ellagic acid and corilagin also possess cardioprotective properties. Additionally, clinical studies have also shown that the regular intake of amla was effective in reducing the cholesterol levels and the effect to be similar to that of the conventionally used HMG CoA reductase inhibitor, simvastatin. Recent studies have also shown that amla improves endothelial function and reduced biomarkers of oxidative stress and systemic inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. 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 cardioprotective/ cardiotonic therapeutic drug in humans.