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A sketch of a Tamarind Tree

The tamarind (Tamarindus indica) fruit or pulp is very popular all over India as a condiment and as a souring agent in food. It plays an important role in various culinary preparations across the country, specially southern India where it constitutes an essential ingredient of sambars, rasams, chutneys and curries. The tamarind tree is one of the important big trees, which grow upto 40 metres. It is also an ornamental tree with a longevity of over 120 years.


[edit] Origin and Distribution

A Tamarind Tree

The tamarind is a native of Africa and South India. The tree is now grown in most tropical countries both for its fruits and as a shady tree. It occurs commonly in the central and southern regions of India and is planted throughout the coutnry alongside roads and in gardens.

[edit] Other names of the tamarind

Most of its colloquial names are variations on the common English term. In Spanish and Portuguese, it is tamarindo; in French, tamarin, tamarinier, tamarinier des Indes, or tamarindier; in Dutch and German, tamarinde; in Italian, tamarandizio; in Papiamiento of the Lesser Antilles, tamarijn. In the Virgin Islands, it is sometimes called taman; in the Philippines, sampalok or various other dialectal names; in Malaya, asam jawa; in India, it is tamarind or ambli, imli, chinch, etc.; in Cambodia, it is ampil or khoua me; in Laos, mak kham; in Thailand, ma-kharm; in Vietnam, me. The name "tamarind" with a qualifying adjective is often applied to other members of the family Leguminosae having somewhat similar foliage.

[edit] Theraupeutic uses

Dried Tamarind

Traditionally, tamarind was an important item of the diet in sailing ships as the acid and sugar contents of the fruit helped offset the starchy diet of the seamen.

  • The leaves, bark, pulp and seeds of the fruit have great medicinal value.
  • The leaves are a stimulant, cooling and antibilious and act as a diuretic by increasing the secretion and discharge of urine.
  • The bark acts as an astringent, and a tonic while also reducing fevers.
  • The pulp of the fruit is a digestive, antiflatulent, cooling, laxative and antiseptic.
  • The seeds are astringent.

[edit] Home Remedies with Tamarind

  • Digestive Disorders

The pulp of the ripe fruit is beneficial in the treatment of bilious vomiting, flatulence, and indigestion. It is also useful in constipation. An infusion of the pulp prepared by macerting it in water is particularly useful for t he loss of appetite and disinclination for food. For better results, black pepper, cloves, cardamoms and camphor to taste may be added to this infusion after straining. For gastric problems, a mixture of jaggery and tamarind works wonders. To treat morning sickness, and pyrosis chew a bit of tamarind with salt and pepper. The ash obtained by heating the bark with salt in an earthen vessel can also be given in 6-12 centigram doses for colic and indigestion.

  • Scurvy

Tamarind pulp being rich in vitamin C, is valuable in preventing and curing scurvy. It is significant tht tamarind does not lose it antiscorbutic property on drying as other fruits and vegetables.

  • Cold

Tamarind pepper rasam is considered a food of exceptional value in clearing the mucus glands. It is used as an effective home remedy for colds in South India. It is made by boiling for a few minutes very dilute tamarind water in a teaspoon of ghee and half a teaspoon of black pepper powder. This steaming hot rasam has a flushing effect. As one drinks it, the nose and eyes water and the nasal passage is cleared.

  • Fevers

A sherbet made by boiling 30 gms of the pulp in half a litre of milk with an addition of a fw dates, cloves, sugar, cardamoms, and a little camphor is an efficacious drink in fevers

  • Piles

The covering of the tamarind seedshould be finely powdered and a pinch of the powder should be given thrice daily for a week to treat this condition.

  • Burns

The tender leaves of the tamarind tree should be put in a pot, covered and warmed over the fire. The burnt leaves are finely powdered and then sieved to remove gritty particles. This fine powder should be mixed in gingelly or til oil and applied over the burnt part. The leaves prevent oedema and bring about he growth of healthy normal skin. Oil being impermeable, keeps the affected part well protected against mositure.

  • Skin Disorders

An infusion of the leaves can be used for foul smelling ulcers, It can also be used for scabies while the dry leaves dusted can be used for leg ulcers and boils.

  • Rheumatic Afflictions

The leaves of this tree are an anti-inflammatory medicine and thus highly beneficial in the prevention and treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and gout. The leaves should be crushed with water and made into a poultice. This can be applied externally over the inflamed joints and ankles.It will reduce swelling and pain.

  • Sexual debility

A powder should be prepared from the seeds after removing the outer covering by soaking them in water for 4 days. This powder should be mixed with equal quantity of sugar, powder of puffed bengal gram, few seeds of cardamom and dates. A teaspoon of this mixture should be taken once daily with a glass of milk. This will help cure nocturnal emissions and spermatorrhoea.

  • Sore Throat

Tamarind water as a gargle is beneficial in the treatment of sore throats. A powder of the dry leaves as well as an infusion of the bark can also be used as a gargle.

[edit] References

  • Indian Spices and Condiments as Natural Healers by Dr. H.K. Bakhru
  • [1]

[edit] See Also