Health Benefits of Falsa or Phalsa Fruit
Grewia Asiatica, or Falsa in English
Falsa fruit are small berries that grow on the tree Grewia asiatica. The fruit, known as Phalsa in India, resembles black currents but are not the same. While black current shrubs do produce similar small, glossy, purple berries, they are native to parts of Europe and northern Asia. Falsa shrubs, on the other hand, are native to southern Asia, including Pakistan, India, and Cambodia, and are widely cultivated in other tropical countries.
Falsa plants grow to be about 15 - 20 feet tall. They have rough bark and drooping, shaggy branches. The leaves are large, thick, and oval-shaped with pointed tips.
The tree can grow in a variety of soil conditions and climates and is drought-resistant. It does, however, need protection from freezing temperatures.
Quick Reference Guide
Grewia asiatica = scientific name
Phalsa = common name in India
Falsa = common name in English
About Falsa Fruit
Falsa fruit is available in India during the months of May and June, which are the peak hot months.
A very delicate and perishable fruit, falsa is difficult to transport. This is one of the reasons it is not available throughout the world. When consumed during the summer, it provides a much-needed cooling effect. It is mostly eaten fresh, with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. However a syrup of the fruit may also be prepared, so that one can enjoy the fruits' benefits for a longer time.
Medicinal Uses for Falsa
Parts of the phalsa plant are used in folk medicine. University of Miami botanist Julia Morton wrote in Fruits of Warm Climates1 that unripe phalsa fruit "alleviates inflammation and is administered in respiratory, cardiac and blood disorders, as well as in fever."
Other medicinal uses include:
- An infusion of the bark is said to treat diarrhea, pain, rheumatism, and arthritis.
- A study published in the journal Ethnobotany Research and Applications2 confirmed that falsa leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
- The leaves are said to have a mild antibiotic effect3. Soaked overnight and made into a paste, they are said to relieve inflammations of the skin including cuts, burns, boils, eczema, and pustular skin eruptions.
- The root bark has been shown in research to relieve pain and inflammation, according to a study conducted at Vinayaka Mission's College of Pharmacy4 in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Falsa leaf and fruit extract may function as anti-cancer agents. Research on mice5 has shown that the pomace, or solid fruit parts, may prevent the formation of breast, cervical, and blood cancers.
How Falsa Is Used in Traditional Folk Medicine
- For stomach pain, 25 to 30 ml of falsa juice, added to three grams of carom seeds, stirred and warmed, is said to relieve pain.
- For burning eyes, urine, chest, stomach, and sour burping, falsa sherbet is said to provide relief (see recipe below).
- For nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, falsa juice combined with a little rose water and sugar is said to provide relief.
- For respiratory troubles and hiccups, warm falsa juice combined with a little ginger juice and rock salt is said to provide relief.
Other Uses for Parts of the Falsa Tree
Falsa trees are grown for their fruit, but all parts can be used.
• Fresh leaves act as a fodder for cattle.
• The bark is used to refine sugar.
• The bark can be made into rope.
• The wood is used to make poles, archery bows, and spear handles.
Nutrition Information for Falsa Fruit
In 1994, the Fort Valley State University Agricultural Research Station in Georgia began an investigation into the feasibility of growing falsa in the U.S. The falsa seeds were obtained from India through the USDA Plant Introduction division. The study was conducted by Yadav A.K. and produced this nutrient information. Nutrients were analyzed in 1998.
Nutrient values per 100g of fruit:
- Calories (Kcal) 90.5
- Calories from fat (Kcal) 0.0
- Moisture (%) 76.3
- Fat (g) <0.1
- Protein (g) 1.57
- Carbohydrates (g) 21.1
- Dietary Fiber (g) 5.53
- Ash (g) 1.1
- Calcium (mg) 136
- Phosphorus (mg) 24.2
- Iron (mg) 1.08
- Potassium (mg) 372
- Sodium (mg) 17.3
- Vitamin A (µg) 16.11
- Vitamin B1,Thiamin (mg) 0.02
- Vitamin B2, Riboflavin (mg) 0.264
- Vitamin B3, Niacin (mg) 0.825
- Vitamin C, Ascorbic acid (mg) 4.385
Yadav, A.K. 1999. Phalsa: p. 348–352. In: J. Janick (ed.), Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA. https://dev.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1999/v4-348.html
Falsa Sherbet Recipe
- 1 3/4 cup falsa berries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup ice, crushed
- 3 cups water, cold
- 1 lemon
- Wash berries in water. Grind or blend in a grinder or blender.
- Strain pulp well through a strainer.
- Add water and sugar. Mix well.
- Add lemon juice and crushed ice. Stir.
- Serve chilled.
1 Morton, J. 1987. Phalsa. p. 276–277. In: Fruits of Warm Climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL., https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/phalsa.html
2 Hossan, Shahadat et al. Traditional use of medicinal plants in Bangladesh to treat urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, [S.l.], v. 8, p. 061-074, Apr. 2010. http://journals.sfu.ca/era/index.php/era/article/view/304
3Nutritional and medicinal potential of Grewia subinaequalis DC. (syn. G. asiatica.) (Phalsa) Jyoti Sinha*, Shalini Purwar, Satya Kumar Chuhan and Gyanendra Rai Centre of Food Technology, University of Allahabad, India. Received 2 January, 2015; Accepted 5 May, 2015
5Grewia asiatica L., a Food Plant with Multiple Uses; Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq, Milan S. Stanković, Komal Rizwan, and Vincenzo De Feo
This article is for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical doctor or health practitioner before starting any home remedies or new health regime.
Grewia asiatica (Falsa)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly