Aonla: A Wonderful fruit

Parshant Bakshi
Aonla is a wonderful fruit and one of the precious gifts of nature to man and a crop of commercial significance. It is the rich source of vitamin-C (500-700 mg/100g) which is readily assimilated by the human system. It contributes greatly towards health and longevity. The aonla fruit is globular, small, round, six lobed fruit, thick and hard in consistency. It is light yellow in colour and is almost 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm in diameter. Aonla is indigenous to India and finds mention in Vedas, Ramayana, Charak Samhita etc. Aonla is highly nutritious and regarded as fruit for medicinal value in ayurvedics. A tannin containing gallic acid, ellagic acid and glucose in its molecule which is naturally present in the fruit, prevents or retards the oxidation of vitamin-C and renders it a valuable antiscorbutic in the fresh as well as in the dried processed condition. The vitamin-C value of aonla increases further when the juice is extracted from this fruit. The dehydrated fruit provided 2423 to 3470 mg of vitamin-C per 100 grams. Even when it is dried in shade and then turned into powder, it retains as much as 1780 to 2660 mg of vitamin-C. The best way to take it without loss of vitamin-C is to eat it raw with a pinch of salt. The fruit may also be used in the form of pickles and murabha. Many medicinal virtues have been attributed to aonla. The fresh fruit is light, laxative and diuretic. They are useful in the disorders associated with the digestive system and are also prescribed in the treatment of jaundice and coughs. It is one of the three ingredients of the famous ayurvedic preparation, triphala, which is given to treat chronic dysentery, bilousness and other disorders.
The plant is considered to be an effective antiseptic for cleaning wounds and it is also one of the many plant palliatives for snakebite and scorpion-stinging. Its leaves are used as a mouth wash and as a lotion for sore eyes. An ointment is made from the burnt seeds, and the oil obtained is applied to cure skin infections. A tablespoon each of fresh gooseberry juice and honey mixed together forms a very valuable medicine for the treatment of several ailments. It should be taken every morning. Its regular use will promote vigour in the body within few days. Aonla fruit has highly beneficial effect on the human system. The curative properties of aonla make it a miracle fruit against respiratory disorders, diabetes, heart disease, diarrhoea and dysentery, eye disorder, rheumatism etc. Thus, aonla will prove to be an important fruit not only for waste lands but also for human health in one or the other way.
(The author is Associate Professor)