Star Gooseberry Uses, Remedies, Research, Side Effects

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Star gooseberry (Phyllanthus acidus) is a crisp, sour juicy edible fruit. The plant has wide range of its use from culinary, medicinal to criminal poisoning. As a traditional medicine it is used in the treatment of psoriasis, sciatica, rheumatism, constipation, renal calculus, diabetes, asthma, gonorrhoea, amnesia, piles etc.

Introduction


Fruits are eaten raw, pickled or candied. They are said to be absorbent (grahi) in nature and good appetiser. The roots and seeds possess laxative property. Leaves and roots are used in the treatment of snake bite.
Read – Amla Benefits, Dose, How To Use, Side Effects, Home Remedies

Botanical Name – Phyllanthus acidus
Family – Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms – Cicca acida, Phyllanthus distichus

Names in different languages


Sanskrit Name – Lavali
English Name – Star gooseberry, Country gooseberry, Otaheite gooseberry
Hindi Name – Harpharevadi, Lavali, Harpharauri
Bengali Name – Noyal, Harphal, Orboroi, Noyar, Loboni, Hariful
Marathi Name – Rayaval, Harpharori 
Gujarati Name – Ghati aavla
Tamil Name – Arinelli, aranelli, arainellikai
Telugu Name – Rachyusarike
Kannada Name – Karinelli
Konkani Name – Rajamvali
Manipuri Name – Gihori
Urdu Name – Harfarauri
Sri Lanka – Rata Nelli , Nelli Bilin
Spanish Name – Grosellero
French Name – Cerisier de Tahiti

Leaves of Star gooseberry are cooked and eaten. It possess analgesic, antipyretics, antirheumatic properties. Leaves are used to treat jaundice, small pox, itching and gum infection. An aqueous extract of leaf possess antiviral, anticystic fibrosis, hepatoprotective and antioxidant properties.

Poison – Root bark of this plant is said to be poisonous and causes headache, fatigue, severe abdominal pain and death.

Morphology of star gooseberry


Star gooseberry is a deciduous small tree growing up to 2 – 9 meter high. Leaves compound, alternate, ovate or lanceolate, 2-7 cm long, upper surface is smooth, green, lower surface is blue green in colour. Flowers are small, pinkish, appear in clusters, arising from nodules along the branches. Fruits are numerous, pale yellow or white, oblate having 6-8 ribs, droopy, densely clustered. Tree produces fruit twice a year. 4-6 seeds are found at the centre of each fruit.

Medicinal Qualities of Star gooseberry


Taste – Sweet, sour, astringent (tuvara)
Hrdya – cardiac tonic
Vishada – clarity
Rochana – improves taste
Ruksha – dry
Guru – heavy to digest

Traditional Indications
Ashmari – renal calculus
Arshas – piles

Effect on tridoshas
Balances kapha and pitta dosha
Vatalam – increases vata dosha (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
Very sour fruits can increase Pitta and decrease Vata Dosha.

Pharmacological Activities
Phyllanthus acidus possess antibacterial, antinematodal, anti-tumour, antioxidant, hepato-protective, diuretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties.(read here)

Traditional Remedies

  • The poultice of leaves added with pepper is applied as remedy in sciatica, lumbago and rheumatism.
  • Decoction of leaves is used to induce sweating.
  • Leaves are used as demulcent in gonorrhoea.
  • Though root is considered as toxic, it is boiled and steam is inhaled to relieve headache and cough.
  • Root infusion in small dose to treat asthma.
  • Root is applied externally to treat psoriasis of soles.
  • Latex of various parts of tree is used as emetic and purgative.
  • Fruit is eaten to enhance the blood and acts as liver tonic.
  • In urticaria, decoction of leaves is applied externally.
  • Bark decoction is used in bronchial catarrh.
  • Decoction of seeds is used in asthma and bronchitis
    (read here)

Part Used
Fruits, Leaves, Roots

Culinary uses of star gooseberry

  • Star gooseberry is eaten raw, cooked, pickled or made murabba (candied).
  • Fruit juice added with sugar is used as cold drinks.
  • Fresh fruits are cooked and pickled in salt or made into a thick syrup.
  • Fruits are also made used to prepare chutney, relish or preserves along with other fruits.
  • Leaves are cooked as dish.
  • Fruits are also used to make vinegar.
  • Unripe fruit is sour flavouring agent.
    (read here)

Other uses

  • Bark is used as a tanning agent.
  • Wood is used for fuel.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Nutritional Value of Star Gooseberry


Moisture – 91.9 g, Protein – 0.155 g, Fat – 0.52 g, Fibre – 0.8 g, Ash – 0.51 g, Calcium – 5.4 mg, Phosphorus – 17.9 mg, Iron – 3.25 mg, Carotene – 0.019 mg, Thiamine – 0.025 mg, Riboflavin – 0.013 mg, Niacin – 0.292 mg, Ascorbic Acid – 4.6 mg
Read – Amla Murabba Recipe, Preparation, Benefits, Side Effects

Side effects, distribution, chemicals, research

Side Effects of star Gooseberry:
Just with 2 – 5 fruits, there are no side effects.
Excessive intake may cause hyperacidity, sourness of the mouth and increase of Pitta Dosha.

Distribution
Phyllanthus acidus is found throughout Asia and in the Caribbean region, Central and South America.

Chemical constituents
Phyllanthus acidus contains 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, caffeic acid, adenosine, kaempferol and hypogallic acid.

Sanskrit synonyms
Sugandhamula, lavali
Pandu, Komalavalkala
Mukthaphala

Research
Hepatoprotective Activity – A study conducted to evaluate traditional use of Phyllanthus acidus (L.) Skeels fruit as a hepatoprotective agent has concluded that Phyllanthus acidus is a significant hepatoprotective agent.
Antimicrobial Activity – The study concluded that the ethanol extracts of Phyllanthus acidus can be used as herbal medicines in the control of E.coli and S.aureus.
Antioxidant, Analgesics, Anti-inflammatory Activity – The research study confirms that Phyllanthus acidus possess significant antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities.
Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Activity – A research study done to investigate hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties of leaf extracts from P. acidus, L. leucocephala and P. guajava have proved that leaf extract of these plants possess significant hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties and can be safely used in the treatment of diabetes without affecting hematological values and renal function.

Classical categorisation
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Amraadiphala Varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadi Varga
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