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Herbs and Aroma

Alternative Medicine

Aroma Therapy


Tamarind is a very well known herb and plant used by the Egyptians from a long time ago. It has for many centuries been used in many things, such as culinary, medicinal, ornamental uses and as an economic dye. Its botanical name is Tamarindus indica while its common name is Tamarind, Tamarindo, Tamarin or simply Indian date as a translation from the Arabic name Tamr hindi

It is named as such as before it was thought to be a type of date found only in India despite that it does not come from palm trees. The tamarind is native to tropical Africa and grows wild throughout the Sudan.

 It was introduced into India from a long ago, thus it has often been reported as indigenous there also. It is extensively cultivated in tropical areas of the world. Sometime during the sixteenth century, it was introduced into America and today is widely grown in Mexico.

The tamarind is the fruit of a tall shade tree native to Asia and northern Africa and widely grown in India. The large pods contain small seeds and a sour-pulp that, when dried, becomes extremely sour. The tamarind is well adapted to semiarid tropical conditions, although it does well in many humid tropical areas of the world with seasonally high rainfall. . Dry weather is important during the period of fruit development. The tree is too large to be grown in a container for any length of time.  

This plant is one of the multi-purpose plants. The parts used are many, sometimes the whole tree is used in a number of different things.

Primarily, fruits and seeds are most commonly used in cuisines and in medicine. However, leaves, flowers, wood and bark are also used.





Before it ripens, the pod is green and can be eaten raw. Once ripened the pod is brown and brittle on the outside, with a soft juicy pulp inside. The pulp is compressed and then used to add a tart flavor to many dishes. It is usually used in the form of tamarind juice. The taste of tamarind is of sour and tart.

The constituents of Tamarind are citric, tartaric and malic acids, potassium, bitartrate, gum, pectin, some grape sugar, and parenchymatous fibre. The fruit acids comprise 20% while sugars are 35%. Furthermore, small amounts of terpenes (limonene, geraniol), phenylpropanoids (safrole, cinnamic acid, ethyl cinnamate), methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkylthiazoles are reported. 


Medicinal uses

Tamarind is cathartic, astringent, febrifuge, antiseptic, refrigerant.

In India Tamarind is popular as a gentle laxative. The pulp, which comes from the pods of the tamarind tree, is a gentle laxative that improves general sluggishness of the bowels. The folk receipe is to take one to two tablespoons of the pulp in the evening. There are no known constituents in Tamarinds to account for their laxative properties; they are refrigerant from the acids they contain, an infusion of the Tamarind pulp making a useful drink in febrile conditions, and the pulp a good diet in convalescence to maintain a slightly laxative action of the bowels; also used in India as an astringent in bowel complaints.

Tamarind is useful in correcting bilious disorders. Tamarind is acidic and excites the bile and other juices in the body. Tamarind is also a blood purifier. Folk medicine uses Tamarind leaves for sprains and swelling.  

The leaves are some times used in subacid infusions, and a decoction is said to destroy worms in children, and is also useful for jaundice, and externally as a wash for sore eyes and ulcers.

The pulp, leaves, and the bark also have medical applications. For example, in the Philippines, the leaves have been traditionally used in herbal tea for reducing malaria fever.

Tamarind Whey, made by boiling 1 OZ. of the pulp in 1 pint of milk and then strained, makes a cooling laxative drink. In some forms of sore throat the fruit has been used.

Tamarind is acidic and excites the bile and other juices in the body. Tamarind is also a blood purifier. Folk medicine uses Tamarind leaves for sprains and swelling

In Mauritius the Creoles mix salt with the pulp and use it as a liniment for rheumatism and make a decoction of the bark for asthma

Culinary uses 

The taste of tamarind is very sour especially its pulp. The ripe fruit is a little less bitter, thus when sweetened can be used in a very well known sweet drink , drank by the Egyptians from a long time ago. 

The pulp of the fruit is used as a spice both in Asian as well as in Latin American cuisine, and is also an important ingredient to Worcestershire sauce and HP sauce. The pulp of a young fruit is very sour, and hence suitable for main dishes. Tamarind pulp concentrate is popular as a flavoring in east Indian and middle eastern cuisine. It's used to season full flavored foods such as chutney, curry dishes and pickled fish.

Whereas in a ripened fruit, Tamarind is also used to make a sweet syrup flavoring for soft drinks and can be used in desserts, or as a snack.
Tamarinds in Indian cookery is an important ingredient in curries and chutneys, and makes a delicious sauce for duck, geese and water fowl, and in Western India is used for pickling fish, Tamarind fish being considered a great delicacy.

Other uses 

 Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood. Due to its denseness and durability, tamarind heartwood can be used in making furniture and wood flooring. Tamarind trees are very common in South India particularly in Andhra Pradesh. They are used to provide shade on the country roads and highways like oak trees.  

The wood is very hard and durable, valuable for building purposes and furnishes excellent charcoal for gunpowder; the leaves in infusion give a yellow dye. 

Monkeys love the ripened tamarind fruit.


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