Tamarind increases appetite, digestion

by Namini Wijedasa
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) alleviates vatha but increases kapha and pitta. It is added to cooking in this parts of the world and is also taken as a drink.

The drink may be prepared in two ways. Take ripe fruits, dissolve in water, add sugar, a little pepper, cloves and cinnamon. It is then ready to drink and is an excellent means of inducing appetite. The second method is to take one part of thick tamarind paste, add 40 parts of milk and mix. This mixture is good for fever.

According to Dr. Lakshmi Senaratne, senior scientist (ayurveda) of the Bandaranaike International Ayurveda Research Institute, tamarind may be used externally to reduce oedema and pain. For weakness of teeth, rub powder of seeds on gums and teeth. Paste of fruit is applied for oedema.

For sinusitis, apply the fruit paste on the head. Internally, says Senaratne, tamarind increases appetite, digestion, is good for the heart, reduces urine and is used in treatment of fever. For thirst, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and malabsorption, take the tamarind drink. For polyurea (excess of urine) and fever accompanied by burning sensation, also take the drink.

Senaratne recommends a leaf decoction for dysentery. Meanwhile, for chronic diarrhoea with oedema, take sticks of tamarind, karapincha sticks and aralu. A healthy beverage is also prepared by ageing tamarind for one to two years, adding warm water and crushing the fruit. Strain and it is ready to be drunk.

For loss of appetite and indigestion, take four parts of thick tamarind paste and dry ginger, store in a pot and seal for one month before administering.

When the bark and shell of seeds is burnt, it produces a highly alkaline ash. Dissolved in water, it is given for acidity in urine. The ash is also applied on haemorrhoids.

Dr. Seela Fernando, in her book Herbal Food and Medicines in Sri Lanka, says that tamarind is a common acid used largely in our diet, specifically in cooking meat. She dedicates an entire chapter to the curative value of tamarind.

She says that the pulp is a cooling laxative and carminative. The unripe fruit is more acidic. "The ripe fruit, a year or two old, is used with other ingredients for jaundice or lack of tension in the liver," Fernando describes. "A half ounce of tamarind juice is given to correct bilious disorders."

Fernando also speaks of the tamarind drink: boil one ounce of tamarind pulp in a quart of milk and add a few dates. Strain the liquid, add cloves, cardamom, pepper and a little camphor to taste.

The drink is taken for inflammatory disorders such as fever, gastric affections, dysentery and loss of appetite, Fernando said. For sun stroke, take mashed tamarind pulp, soak in water and take after straining. "The efficacy of the strained infusion is increased by adding black pepper, sugar cloves, cardamoms and camphor.

Tamarind water can be used as a mouth wash. Gargle for inflammation of the mouth and sore throat, the book says. The seed coat, in doses of 10 grams with an equal quantity of cummin sees and sugar boiled as a decoction is given for dysentery and diarrhoea two or three times a day. "A hot poultice of the pulp is applied over inflammatory swellings," it notes. "A paste of the tamarind pulp made with salt is used as a liniment in rheumatism. The seeds are powdered and made into a paste with cold water and applied over boils."

For acute colic and indigestion, Fernando says to obtain ash by heating the bark with kitchen salt in an earthen vessel. Give in one or two grain doses. A mixture of this ash with water is a garble for sore throat and mouth wash for minute ulcers on the tongue and mouth.

The tender leaves and flowers are eaten as a vegetable and are cooling. They help overcome biliousness. The juice of the leaves is given for bilious fevers and for urinary disorders. It is useful for jaundice, Fernando recommends. "A poultice of the fresh leaf is locally applied over swellings of ankles and joints, sprains, boils, sore eyes and scabies," she says. "A powder of the dried leaves is dusted over ulcers."