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Tamarind: Medicinal Uses And Properties

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Biology
Wordcount: 2891 words Published: 16th May 2017

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Tamarinds belong to the family of leguminous plants called Fabaceae, which means that they comprise of fruits with seeds enclosed within an encapsulated pod, flowers are bilaterally symmetrical with 5 petals and sepals, 10 stamens, 1 pistil and superior ovary. The Latin name or scientific name of the plant is Tamarindus indica.

Tamarinds are tropical or semi-tropical evergreen trees that can reach a maximum height of 80 feet, however most of the tamarind that grows in the tropical regions usually reaches a maximum height of 20 feet. The tamarind grows very slowly and withstand drought for extensive period of time. The bark is thick and is usually brown in color with dense foliage that can often extend for a length of 20 to 35 feet.

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Leaves are not shed intermittently but usually become brown in color and fall out during harsh conditions such as hot dry season. The tamarind leaves are pinnate compound leaves with each being oval in shape. Leaflets are also present with most of them being sessile and they usually close at nights. The leaflets are arranged in pairs about 10-18 pears occurs on a leaf.

The width of the flowers extends for about one inch and they are usually white in color with the petals being yellow with red stripes. The buds of the flower are usually pinkish in color.

The pods of the tamarind comprise of shell that are mostly brown in color with curve like indentations. The pod size of the tamarind depends on the number and the size of seeds it contains. Most of the Asia continent’s tamarind can occupy up to a maximum of 12 seeds and those tamarinds that are found within tropical regions can contain up to a maximum of 6 seeds. Average size of the pod is about 10cm that is about 4inches.

The seeds of the premature tamarind fruit are quite greenish in color, and the shells that comprise the pod are difficult to crack and much less brittle. At maturity of the fruit the seed is brown in color and the pod is more brittle and can be crack open more easily. Within the pod the seeds are surrounded by a fleshy tissue referred to as the pulp, which has either a sour or sweet taste. The pulp has beneficial and economical uses.

The fruit of the tamarind of the tamarind has a high acidic, sugar and calcium content. The tamarind plant can be propagated either by seeds or cuttings. Seedlings bear fruits within a period of 6 to 8 years after development. Cuttings or young trees are usually planted in soil above the normal soil level so as to allow subsequent settling of the soil. Area around the plant should be well irrigated as to maintain steady moisture for young plants. At maturity the plant requires minimum irrigation. The plant usually tolerates a great diversity of soil condition but is preferable in soil that is deep and slightly acidic.

Tamarind trees have a variety of use from the pulp that is used in sauce and chutney to the leaves and barks that has important medicinal applications. Tamarind bark is processed into wood and can be used in making furniture and wood flooring. The pods and flowers are usually pickled and used as side dish. They are most often used as ornamental plants to provide shades along roadside.

Taxonomic Description of Tamarind

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants

Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – (Vascular plants-has capabilities of conducting water and nutrients around the structure of the plant.)

Superdivision:  Spermatophyta – (Seed plants- plant that produces and reproduces by seeds)

Division:  Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants

Class:  Magnoliopsida – (Dicotyledons- has two cotyledons or seed leaves contrast with one cotyledon found in monocot plants. Leaves of the dicots are usually reticulate and the roots of the plant is adventitious)

Subclass:  Rosidae (Large trees with radially symmetrical flowers with petals not coalesced. Flowers has a hypanthium which is a cup-shaped structure formed by a coalesced calyx, corolla and stamens. Flowers usually borne in catkins; long, often pendulate inflorescences with small flowers and scaly stipules……. Niki Wessels, myfundi your online encyclopedia).

Order:  Fabales (comprise of a dehiscent seed pod with seeds present in a row, sometimes in individual sections. Flowers have 10 or more stamens….R.J. Hodgkiss)

Family:  Fabaceae – (Pea family- leaves usually alternate with stipules, or compound. Flowers have one simple pistil that often become the pod fruit. Flowers are zygomorphic with sepals fused into a tube…… Robert W. Freckmann)

Genus:  Tamarindus – tamarind (genus is monotypic and only comprises of one species)

Species:  Tamarindus indica L. – tamarind 

Biogeographic Origin of Tamarind

The tamarind is native to tropical Africa and probably was introduced to tropical West Indies and Asia countries such as India. From Asia it may have been distributed to other areas such as Persian and Arab countries and surrounded areas. The first tamarind tree was planted in tropical Hawaii around the year of 1797. The tamarind tree may have been introduced to Mexico, South American countries and the West Indies much earlier. The tamarind distribution within these particular areas all possesses fruits that are quite different in their appearance, texture and taste. Contrast with tamarind biogeography origin, it is widely and extensively cultivated in the tropical areas of the world. Tamarinds even up to date are being cultivated in countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Tanzania. Distribution of tamarind is credit to African slaves, Portuguese and Spaniards, whose rival for increase land space promoted a wider geographic location for the growth and development of tamarind.

Tamarind Medicinal uses and properties

Tamarind has the following four properties……..

Cathartic; describes a medicine that causes emptying of the bowel


Febrifuge: a drug that is used in the therapy and the reduction of fever.

Antiseptic; it serves as a drug to reduce and prevent infection especially by the elimination and growth of microorganism such as bacteria and fungi that cause disease or decay.

Refrigerant; a medicine that reduces or alleviates fever or reduces body heat

Specific Medicinal Properties and Uses of Medicine

It is used as a mild laxative to treat digestive system disorder and thus it is able to promote bowel movement and relieve digestive ailments.

It is used in the treatment of bronchial disorders

It is used in the relieve of sore throat

It is used as a antiseptic in eye hoths and the treatment of ulcers

Because of tamarind acidic nature it is able to excites bile and digestive juices and as such serve as a remedy in relieving biliousness in the body.

It is rumored to destroy worms in the intestine of children

It is useful in the treatment of jaundice

Tamarind is high in vitamin C content and as such is used in the treatment and subsequent cure of scurvy and also as an antiscorbutic agent.

Tamarind is also used as a blood purifier

Tamarind is used in body cleansing

Because of its refrigerant properties tamarind is used as a remedy for fever. In the Philippines tamarind is used to treat and reduce malaria fever.

It is used in folk medicine as remedy for pains and swellings

It is effective in the treatment of burn and healing of skin by preventing oedema. Oedema is same as edema and is build of excess of fluid around skin tissues, which is a characteristic in many burn victims.

Oil from tamarind helps promote moisture and healthy skin and also restricts the entry of harmful germs.

Tamarind is used to treat dysentery. Dysentery is a disease of the lower intestine caused by many parasites especially protozoan that often leads to pain, persistent severe diarrhea, inflammation and the passage of blood and mucus.

Tamarind pulp because of its fibrous nature is useful in relieving constipation

Tamarind has also been rumored to lower cholesterol levels due to their fibrous nature they are able to bind to bile salts restricting its reabsorption in the colon.

Tamarind with other remedial ingredients in the form of soup helps to alleviates and helps to clear nasal blockage.

Tamarind is used for diarrhea.

The ingredients in tamarind helps promote healthy heart by indirectly lowering blood cholesterol.

It is used as a treatment for leucorrhea, which is a white discharge.

Tamarind comprises of tartaric acid that provides and serves as a powerful antioxidant for the body.

The fiber binds also to toxin chemicals that often binds to mucus and expels them from the body. These toxin chemicals are often the precursor for many cancer especially colon cancer.

The tamarind is a source of many minerals such as potassium, calcium, copper, selenium, zinc, magnesium and especially copper. Iron facilitates the production of red blood cells and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidase enzymes.

Treatment of gall bladder problems and hemorrhoid.

Polysaccharide in tamarind aids in the relieve of dry eye syndrome

Presence of antioxidant in tamarind helps to boost the body’s immune system

Tamarind helps delay the progress of fluorosis caused by excess fluorides

Tamarind is used in cases of gingivitis and eye inflammation.

Plant part used for medicinal purposes



Treatment of:

Scurvy, fever, biliousness, flatulence, indigestion, constipation, loss appetite, bile disorder

Is used for the inclination of food intake.

Reduces the probability of colon cancer

Pulp is smeared on skin for skin-itching

Used for common cold

It is used as a mild laxative

It is used to alleviate alcohol intoxication and datura poisoning


Used as poultice for cuts and burn

Treatment of fever and rheumatism (stiffness in joints and muscles).

Herbal tea from tamarind leaves is used to treat eye infections and is usually taken internal for the treatment of diabetes and common cold and flu.

Help to prevent edema.

Used for liver disorders such as jaundice, worms and liquid drawn is used as a wash for sore eyes

Crushed leaves are usually applied to joints of skin for pain relieve.


Is useful in asthmatic attack

Aids in the removal of freckles

Bark is prepare into a astringent and tonic for chest disorders

Poultice extracted from the bark are used on open sores and caterpillar rashes.


Aids in the removal of freckles

Improves appetite

Treat urinary problems, constipation, diarrhea, asthma, skin irritations and infections caused by mite and tick bites such as scabies.

Used as a remedy for chest complaints.

Is used as an ingredient in the prescription for leprosy.


Powdered tamarind seed is used in chronic diarrhea, digestive disorder such as dysentery.

Seed coat also has astringent properties and is used in the treatment of the latter also.

Tamarind kernel is an ingredient in various medicines and is effective in curing fever, treating intestinal diseases and diarrhea.

Helps to get rid of intestinal parasites

The seed powder is applied locally to the vagina for contraction of the vaginal passage.


Is used for treating running stomach


These are used for digestive disorders, popularly used by natives

Boiled or dried flower is useful for pains, swelling and boils.

Juice extracted from flowers is useful for treating bleeding piles.

Medicinal Uses of Tamarind acquired from interviews

Name of bush medicine vendor

Address and telephone number

Date of interview

Medicinal uses of tamarind

Shermila Mohammad

149 broad street betterhope

Tel#: 220-7729

24th April 2011

Leaf- used for treating measel

Fruit- cold syrup, for pox ( both internal and external)

Ivord Johnson

608 West Ruimveldt

Tel#: 227-8547

24th April 2011

Pulp- used to expelled cold out of the body

Seed- used for snake bites

Method of Preparation of Tamarind for Medicinal Uses

The partially dried fruit of the Tamarind is predominantly used in Medicine. The slab, which is a thick piece or chunk of the tamarind, is crushed and mash into a paste and then a pass through a sieve. The paste obtained from the mashing can be used directly and can be applied unto the skin or taken orally as a means of curing or treating certain medical ailments. During sieving the fine pulp and juices will go through leaving behind the fibrous husk.

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The partially dried fruit of the tamarind tree is used to make medicine. Tamarind is typically prepared as a paste and can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Although no usual dosage is available for tamarind’s use on the skin, it has been taken by mouth in doses of 10 to 50 grams in the form of fruit cubes.

Pharmacological and Side Effects

Taking ibuprofen or aspirin with tamarind increases the absorption benefit of these medications and as such leads to an increase probability of showing risks and side effects that usually compliments with the particular medication taken. This phenomenon occurs as a result of tamarind binding ability with the particular medication.

There are no known side effects that directly results from the consumption of tamarind. Tamarind however is beneficial for pregnant women.

The Table below summarizes the natural products, phytochemicals and active ingredients of the tamarind plant.

Natural products


Active ingredients

Terpenes (inclusive of limonene and geraniol)

Glycosides; constituents include: Vitexin,Isovitexin Orientin, isorienthin( found mostly in the roots and leaves)

Tartaric acid, tamarind constitute a large proportion of this compound

Phenylpropanoids (inclusive of safrole, cinnamic acid, ethyl cinnamate)





Malic acid


Citric acid


Tartaric acid





Methyl salicylate





Parechymatous fibres

Cinnamic acid



Non medicinal uses of the various plant organs

Tamarind in most tropical countries is used as ornamental plants on campuses and other prestige areas.


Leaves are cooked; flowers are often cooked and eaten as greens in certain Asian countries such as India.

Extracts from leave is used in body lotion. It is also used to deepen the color of hair dye.

Extract is usually added to other skin care and cosmetics.

Leaves are boiled with other leaves in a process of bleaching to prepare them for hat making.

Galls, which are swelling caused by insects, are often used in tanning.


Barks can be used as heartwood or sapwood and depending on the type of timber they can be used in making furniture or flooring and building construction

Wood forms excellent charcoal for gunpowder.

Contains amber oil useful in varnish and illuminant

Fibre from bark is used in twine and string making

The twigs and barks can be used as chewing sticks

Bark is often burnt to produce ink

Wood can be used to provide as source of fuel


Is used as spice

The pulp of Sweet tamarind or less mature tamarind that is less bitter is used in beverages

Pulp is used as a flavoring for foods

Pod is cooked and used as a seasoning

The pulp especially of the sweet tamarind can be used in confectioneries and thus can be taken as a snack.

Sizzle or fried tamarind is consume as food directly e.g. in Bahamas

The pulp can be used to make jams and deserts.

Can be used as preservative for fermenting food

Pulp of fruit is popularly used in soup making in certain countries


The kernel powder obtained from the tamarind seed can be used in the textile industries and other industries for the purpose of printing of textiles, paper sizing, as stabilizer in bricks and as a structural mechanism in plastic.

The kernel can be used to make wood glue

Amber oil is often extracted from the tamarind seed and is used as an illuminant and varnish.

Extract from tamarind seed is used as a stabilizer in some ice cream

Seed is sometime used as emergency food source that is available as a powder starch obtained from a series of method.


Provides a great source of nectar for honeybee and therefore can be used to breed bees in order to obtain honey.

Flowers can serve as an ingredient in salads

Flowers can be used in dyeing


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