The scientific name of the Phalsa or phalsa berries is Grewia asiatica. Other names include
|BENGALI: Phalsa, Shunkri.|
|FRENCH: Raisin de l’Inde, Raisin des Philippines, Raisin falsa.|
|HINDI: Phalsa, Phalsa chhaal.|
|KANNADA: Dagala, Dadasala, Phulsha.|
|MARATHI: Palshi, Phalsa.|
|SANSKRIT: Alpasthi, Mriduphal , Parapara, Paroushak, Parushaka.|
|TAMIL: Palicamaram , Unnu.|
|THAI: Dton mai laai, Lai khon, Ma laai, Po tao hai, Yap khee thao.|
|VIETNAMESE: Cò ke á, Giam phủ, Cò ke pierre.|
Phalsa is a small tree, with young stems and inflorescences densely covered with hairs. Leaves are obliquely ovate, sometimes obscurely 3-lobed, 7.5 centimeters to 20 centimeters long, 5 to 16 centimeters wide, with pointed tip and obliquely heart-shaped base. Leaves are sometimes obscurely 3-lobed. Flowers are yellow, about 2 centimeters in length, borne in densely crowded, rarely solitary, axillary cymes. Fruit is edible, small and round, purple to almost black when ripe, sweetish and somewhat acid; each drupe containing a large seed.
– Edible portion of the fruit is 81.13% water, 1.24 % ash, 1.77 % fat, 10.27% sugar, and about 724 calories per kilo.
– Phytochemical study shows the fruit to contain anthocyanin-type cyanidin 3-glucoside, vitamins A and C, minerals, carotenes and dietary fiber.
– Flowers yield a lactone, 3, 21, 24 trimethyl-5,7-dihydroxyhentriacontanoic acid δ-lactone.
Medicinal Properties of Phalsa
– Fruit considered astringent, cooling, stomachic.
– Bark is demulcent, anti-rheumatic.
Leaves, fruit or berries, bark.
• Fruit is edible; sherbet is made from it.
• Spirit is distilled from the fruit.
Folkloric traditional medicine remedies and uses
• In Sind, Infusion of the bark used as demulcent.
• Santals used the root-bark used for rheumatism.
• Leaves used as application for pustular eruptions.
• Used in treatment of diabetes and heart conditions.
• In Pakistan, used for release of after-birth.
Scientific proven health benefits and uses of phalsa
• Radioprotective / Free Radical Scavenging:
Study showed GA extract to have strong radical scavenging activity in the DPPH and O2 assays and showed in vitro dose-dependent radioprotective activity.
Study showed Grewia asiatica extract provides protection against radiation-induced alterations in blood of mice.
Study of aqueous extract of G asiatica in diabetic cats and rabbits showed lowering of blood sugar levels to normal.
• Antiemetic/ prevent or treat nausea and vomiting:
Study of fruits of G asiatica extracts showed an antiemetic effect in dogs and controlled emesis centrally induced by Apomorphine. The activity was comparable to commercial anti-emetic drugs – metoclopramide and chlorpromazine.
• Neuroprotective / Radioprotective:
Study showed that prior/post-supplementation of Grewia asiatica has radioprotective potential as well as neuroprotective properties against radiation.
Study showed GA fruit extract was able to protect the brain of Swiss albino mice against radiation induced biochemical alterations.
Study of methanolic extract of leaves for antiviral and antifungal activity showed maximum activity against Candida albicans. Maximum antiviral activity was seen against Urdbean leaf crinkle virus.
Study in Swiss albino mice showed that Grewia asiatica fruit extract is beneficial for brain.
• Antibacterial / Radioprotective:
Crude methanolic extracts of G asiatica, E jambolana and C carandas yield four major fractions viz. phenoic acids flavanols, flavonols and anthocyanins. Except for anthocyanins, all fractions showed significant antibacterial activity. GA substantially inhibited all tested fungal species.
• Hepatoprotective /good for liver/ Radioprotective / Fruit:
Study evaluated the radioprotective effect of G. asiatic fruit extract against oxidative stress in Swiss albino mice. Biochemical and histopathological results showed the extract has potential against radiation.
• Effect on Glycemic Index / Fruit:
Study evaluated the glycemic index of fruits of Grewia asiatica. Gi value was low (5.34) with modest hypoglycemic activity. The methanolic, aqueous, and butanolic extracts of fruits produced a stimulatory effect on reactive oxygen species (ROS) while the chloroform, hexane, and ethanol-acetate exerted a significant inhibitory effect. Results suggest a beneficial effect on blood glucose metabolism and modulation of ROS production.
Study of successive extracts of leaves showed antioxidant activities comparable with standards such as ascorbic acid and quercetin.
Study of crude ethanolic extracts of fruit, stem bark and leaves and their fractions were tested for anti-hyperglycemic effects in alloxan-induced hyperglycemic rabbits. Results showed significant antihyperglycemic activity.
Study evaluated the antidiabetic activity of dried leaves of Grewia asiatica and Ipomoea carnea. Results showed significant reduction of blood glucose in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Glibenclamide was used as the reference drug.
• Anti-Platelet Activity / Leaves:
Study evaluated crude methanolic extracts of leaves of Grewia asiatica and Terminalia chebula for anti-platelet activity. Results showed potent dose-dependent inhibition of platelet aggregation. Results suggest a potential herbal treatment for patients with diseases associated with blood clotting.
• Anti-Inflammatory Activity / Bark: Study evaluated aqueous and ethanolic extracts of bark of G. asiatica for anti-inflammatory activity in a brewer yeast-induced paw edema model. Results showed significant decrease of inflammation.
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