Tamarind Fruit, Leaves, Flower, Bark Uses, Research

Tamarind fruit is used in making Sambhar in Indian cooking, also useful in treating cardiac disorders, non healing wounds, anorexia etc. Its oil and Kshara (water insoluble ash) are also used in treatment. 

Botanical name- Tamarindus indica Linn
Family- Caesalpiniaceae

Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Imali, Imli
English name-Tamarind
Kannada name – Hunase Hannu
Telugu name- Chinta Chettu
Tamil name- Puli

Imali - Imli

Sanskrit Synonyms
Sincha, Chincha, Chinchika, Amla, Amlantiki, Beeta, Chanda, Chukrika, Stambhainika, Tintidi, Tintrini, Tintidika, तिन्तिडीक
Shukta, Shuktika, Amla, Amlika, Chukra, Chukrika – Having sour taste
Dantashatha – causes pain, numbness in teeth due to sourness

Tamarindus indica chemical composition:
Bark- Hordenine
Seed- a Poly saccharide, (-)
Fruit- Tamarindienol
Stem bark and leaves – tannins, saponins, sesquiterpenes, alkaloids and phlobatamins.

Tamarind tree with fruits
Imali – Classical Categorization
Rasa Chandansu -Amla Skandha – sour group of herbs
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadhi Varga
Bhavaprakasha, Dhanvantari Nighantu – Amradi Varga
Bhavaprakasha – Ksharastaka – group of 8 Ksharas (Palasha, Vajri, Shikhari, Chincha, Arka, Tila, Yava, Sarja Kshara)

Tamarindus indica leaves fruit pod seeds

Tamarind medicinal properties
Guna (qualities) – Guru – heavy to digest, Rooksha – Dryness
Rasa (taste) – Madhura – sweet, Amla – sour
Vipaka – Amla – Undergoes sour taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha

Part used- flower, seed, fruit, kshara (alkali)
Dosage –
powder 1-3 g
kshara 500 mg – 1 g
decoction 50-100 ml in divided doses per day

Tamarind benefits

Tamarind medicinal uses:
Tamarind Flower:

Swadu – sweet
Kashaya – astringent
Amla – sour
Ruchiprada – Improves taste, useful in anorexia
Kapha Vata hara – Balances these two Doshas
Vishada – clarity
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Laghu – light to digest
Indicated in –
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract disorders

Tamarind fruit:
Unripe fruit health effects:
Atyamla – extremely sour
Laghu – light to digest 
Asruk Krut – Causes  blood disorders such as abscess, skin disorders, bleeding disorders such as menorrhagia, nasal bleeding
Pitta Balasa krut – Increases Pitta and Kapha Dosha

Semi ripe Imali fruit benefits:
Grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhea, IBS
Ushna – hot
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Ruchya – improves taste, relieves anorexia.
Kapha Vata hara

Ripe tamarind fruit uses:
Madhura, Amla – sweet, sour
Ushna – hot potency
Sara – induces mobility, causes diarrhea, purgation, relieves constipation
Bhedi – relieves constipation
Rooksha – dryness
Ruchya – improves taste, relieves anorexia.
Agnikrut – Improves digestion strength
Vasti Shuddhikrut – cleanses urinary bladder
Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha

Dry tamarind fruit qualities:
Laghu – light to digest
Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic, congenial for heart
Kaphaghna – Balances Kapha Dosha
Indicated in –
Trushna – excessive thirst
Klama, Shrama – tiredness, fatigue

One year old tamarind fruit balances Pitta and Vata Dosha

Twak Bhasma – Ash / Kshara of tamarind bark / fruit skin – 
Kashaya – astringent
Ushna – hot
Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha
Shoolahara – relieves abdominal colic pain
Mandagninashana – improves digestion strength

Ripe tamarind fruit juice qualities:
Madhura, Amla – sweet, sour
Ruchiprada – improves taste

External application of tamarind:
Shopha Pakakara
– Causes swellings to secrete pus, initiates healing process.
Vranadosha Vinashana – Cleanses wounds, removes slough and impurities.

One Mushti (fistful quantity) each tamarind leaves and nimba leaves should be taken and it should be tied inside the leaf of kumari and putapaka should be given. Later on, these leaves should be taken out and squeezed well. The obtained juice should be mixed with the powders of triphala, ayas and kataka beeja and made into a fine paste. By applying this paste frequently to the eyes, the symptoms like pain, redness, watering of the eyes along with the eye diseases will be cured. – Vaidya Sara Sangraha

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) pods and leaves

Tamarind leaves:
Shophaghna – Relieves swelling, pain, inflammation
Raktadoshahara – Useful in blood disorders such as abscess, skin disorders, bleeding disorders such as menorrhagia, nasal bleeding etc.

Use of leaves in fomentation: Leaves of tamarind along with leaves of Vitex negundo (nirgundi), Calotropis gigantic (arka) and Datura metel (dhathura) are used in a sweating procedure called Elakizhi. Here, heat is applied on the whole body or part of the body with a cloth sac filled with fried medicinal leaves.

Oil extracted from Tamarind:
Katu Paka – Pungent taste
Vilekhana – scraping, relieves slough of wounds, reduces cholesterol deposition in blood vessels.
Ruchya – Improves taste
Kashaya – Astringent
Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha
Na ati sheetala – It is not very coolant.

Ayurvedic medicines with Tamarindus indica as ingredient:
Click on the medicine names to know more about them. 
Panchamla Thailam – 
used mainly in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and ascites
Shankha Bati – Used in Ayurvedic treatment of gastric conditions, dyspepsia, anorexia.
Gudapippali – a useful Ayurvedic medicine for liver health.
Karimbirumbadi Kashayam – 
Ayurvedic medicine used in treating jaundice, anemia and hepatic conditions.
Rasnadi Choornam –  used to apply over scalp, to relieve headache and sinusitis.  This herbal powder is formulated based on Kerala Ayurveda tradition.

Tamarind leaf as antidote:
Arka over-dosage: In case of over-dosage of Arka – Calotropis procera / gigantea, leaves of tamarind are crushed and juice is extracted. 15 ml is mixed with 15 ml of water, administered twice a day.

Rat poisoning: One pala of tamarind and half pala of soot are taken and mixed with old ghee and given as linctus for 7 days. It will cure the rat poisoning. – Vaidya Sara Sangraha

In case of the poisoning caused due to Heeng – Asafoetida, tamarind which is dissolved in water is given. Vaidyasara Sangraha

Antimicrobial Activity – A
ntimicrobial activities of extracts of the stem bark and leaves were evaluated against some common gram negative and gram positive bacteria and fungi. The extracts were active against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Studies on the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) of the extracts on the test organisms showed that the lowest MIC and the MBC were demonstrated against Salmonella paratyphi, Bacillus subtilis and Salmonella typhi and the highest MIC and MBC was exhibited against Staphylococcus aureus. The study concluded that Tamarindus indica has broad spectrum antibacterial activity and a potential source of new classes of antibiotics that could be useful for infectious disease chemotherapy and control.
Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research Vol. 5 (2) 2006: pp. 597-603

Effect on blood pressure and lipid-profile – Fruits were evaluated for effects on lipid profile, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and body weight in human subjects, at a dose of 15 mg/kg body weight. It was found to reduce total cholesterol level (p = 0.031) and LDL-cholesterol level (p = 0.004) to a significant extent. Though the fruits exerted no conspicuous effect on body weight and systolic blood pressure, it significantly reduced the diastolic pressure as confirmed by independent sample t-test at 5% significance level.

Side effects:
Sour tamarind fruit is contra-indicated in people with Pitta body type persons and in high Pitta conditions such as dyspepsia.
Tamarind is commonly consumed along with foods during pregnancy and lactation period. It is safe to use it in children
It is better to avoid tamarind fruit in cases of diarrhea, IBS – D

Drug interaction: Tamarind fruit, when consumed while taking aspirin enhances the bio-availabity of aspirin. Researchers at Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria conducted this research. The fruit extract incorporated in a traditional meal on the bioavailability of aspirin tablets 600 mg dose was studied in 6 healthy volunteers. There was a statistically significant increase in the plasma levels of aspirin and salicylic acid, respectively, when the meal containing Tamarindus indica fruit extract was administered with the aspirin tablets. The study has indicated that Tamarindus indica L. fruit extract significantly increased the bioavailability of aspirin.

Similarly, tamarind also ehnances absorption of Ibuprofren (Brufen tablet).

Tamarind use in Rasashastra –
In a procedure called Naga Jarana – stage 1 of lead metal incineration, tamarind bark is used. – Reference: Rasamruta Loha Vijnaniya.
Leaves of tamarind is used in Loha bhasma (Iron calx) preparation (Rasa Chandamshu).

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  1. Hi doc
    Why Sour fruits should be avoided in any skin infection as per ayurveda
    But Allopathy recommends as its purify blood particularly in yeast infection
    with thanks

  2. Hello,
    The tamarind used to make Sambar, is it the Unripe, Semi-ripe, Ripe or Dry Tamarind?

  3. Which of the 4 types of tamarind mentioned above is the one that is used in south Indian cooking?

  4. Does it have benefit on hiva tienes and how to prepare, , p
    ease oma, desperate
    Oolong for a re,edy

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      I suppose you are asking for tinea infection.
      Its leaves – 1 tablespoon are mixed with a tablespoon of neem powder. They are boiled together in a cup of water for 2 minutes. Filtered. This is used for oral consumption for a month time for tinea infection.

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