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Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.)

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Also listed as: Tamarindus indica L.
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Ambilis, amli, asam, asam jawa, Caesalpiniaceae (subfamily), chintachettu, chintapandu, da ma lin, daaih mah lahm, demirhindi, glyloid, glyloid sulphate 4324, imlee, imli, Indian date, indijska tamarinda, loh fong ji, loh mohng ji, luo huang zi, luo wang zi, ma-gyi-thi, puli, Pulpa tamarindorum, sampalok, sbar, siyambala, swee boey, tamalen, tamar hindi, tamarin, tamarind brown, tamarind flour, tamarind gum, tamarind kernel powder, tamarind nutshell activated carbon, tamarind seed polysaccharide, tamarind seed powder, tamarind seed xyloglucan (XG), tamarinde, tamarindienal, tamarindipuu, tamarindo, Tamarindus amyloid, Tamarindus indica L., Tamarindus indica Linn, Tamarindus indica seed, tamarynd, tamr al-hindi, tamre hendi, tentuli, teteli, tintiri, tintul, titri, TS-polysaccharide, ukwaju, xyloglucan.
  • Note: Tamarindus indica should not be confused with the dried fruit rind of Garcinia cambogia, also known as Malabar tamarind.

Background
  • Tamarind is native to tropical Africa and grows wild throughout the Sudan. It was introduced to India thousands of years ago. In Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, tamarind juice from the tamarind tree is made into a drink prepared by infusing dried tamarind pulp. It has also been used for the preservation of food products. Tamarind may be used as a paste and sauce and included in recipes. Tamarind is also used in India as part of Ayurvedic herbal medicine.
  • In animal studies, tamarind has been found to lower serum cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Due to a lack of available human clinical trials, there is insufficient evidence to recommend tamarind for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) or diabetes.
  • Based on human study, tamarind intake may delay the progression of fluorosis by enhancing excretion of fluoride. However, additional research is needed to confirm these results.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Preliminary study has examined the use of tamarind for fluorosis prevention. Although beneficial outcomes have been reported, these results are not conclusive. Additional study is needed in this area.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Anthelminthic (expels worms), antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, asthma, astringent, bacterial skin infections (erysipelas), boils, chest pain, cholesterol metabolism disorders, colds, colic, conjunctivitis (pink eye), constipation (chronic or acute), diabetes, diarrhea (chronic), dry eyes, dysentery (severe diarrhea), eye inflammation, fever, food preservative, food uses (coloring), gallbladder disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, gingivitis, hemorrhoids, indigestion, insecticide, jaundice, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), leprosy, liver disorders, nausea and vomiting (pregnancy-related), paralysis, poisoning ( plant), rash, rheumatism, saliva production, skin disinfectant/sterilization, sore throat, sores, sprains, sunscreen, sunstroke, swelling (joints), urinary stones, wound healing (corneal epithelium).

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose of tamarind. However, 10 grams daily for up to three weeks has been used to delay the progression of fluorosis by enhancing excretion of fluoride. As a laxative, 10-50 grams of tamarind paste as fermented fruit cubes has been used.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose of tamarind in children. However, 10 grams daily for up to three weeks has been used to delay the progression of fluorosis by enhancing excretion of fluoride.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to tamarind or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Based on the available research, it appears that tamarind is well tolerated in recommended doses. Tamarind is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the United States when used orally and appropriately in food amounts, at a maximum use of 0.81% of dietary intake.
  • There is one reported outbreak of weaver's cough associated with tamarind seed powder. Dust exposure to tamarind flours may also induce chronic changes in lung function. Additionally, tamarind seed preparations have been linked to acute respiratory reactions. Be aware tamarind candy has been associated with lead poisoning and death. Use cautiously in patients with diabetes due to its possible glucose lowering effects.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Tamarind is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Avoid using in amounts greater than those found in foods.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Tamarind may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Although not well studied in humans, tamarind may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking drugs that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • The fruit pulp may have mild laxative properties, but heat may cause loss of this effect. Caution is advised when combining tamarind with other laxatives due to additive effects.
  • Concurrent use of tamarind and topical ophthalmic (eye) antibiotics may result in a synergistic effect. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for interactions.
  • Taking vasoconstrictors and tamarind together may cause a potential additive interaction. Caution is advised.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Tamarind may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Although not well studied in humans, tamarind may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • The fruit pulp may have mild laxative properties, but heat may cause loss of this effect. Caution is advised when combining tamarind with other laxatives due to additive effects.
  • Taking vasoconstrictors and tamarind together may cause a potential additive interaction. Caution is advised when taking herbs or supplements with similar effects.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Araujo CL, Bezerra IW, Oliveira AS, et al. In vivo bioinsecticidal activity toward Ceratitis capitata (fruit fly) and Callosobruchus maculatus (cowpea weevil) and in vitro bioinsecticidal activity toward different orders of insect pests of a trypsin inhibitor purified from tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) seeds. J Agric.Food Chem 6-1-2005;53(11):4381-4387.
  2. Arimoto-Kobayashi S, Machida M, Okamoto K, et al. Evaluation of photo-mutagenicity and photo-cytotoxicity of food coloring agents. Mutagenesis 2005;20(3):229-233.
  3. Chowdhury SR, Sarker DK, Chowdhury SD, et al. Effects of dietary tamarind on cholesterol metabolism in laying hens. Poult.Sci 2005;84(1):56-60.
  4. Dini E, De Abreu J, Lopez E. [Osmolality of frequently consumed beverages]. Invest Clin 2004;45(4):323-335.
  5. Fook JM, Macedo LL, Moura GE, et al. A serine proteinase inhibitor isolated from Tamarindus indica seeds and its effects on the release of human neutrophil elastase. Life Sci 5-6-2005;76(25):2881-2891.
  6. Ghelardi E, Tavanti A, Davini P, et al. A mucoadhesive polymer extracted from tamarind seed improves the intraocular penetration and efficacy of rufloxacin in topical treatment of experimental bacterial keratitis. Antimicrob.Agents Chemother. 2004;48(9):3396-3401.
  7. Izzo AA, Di Carlo G, Borrelli F, Ernst E. Cardiovascular pharmacotherapy and herbal medicines: the risk of drug interaction. Int J Cardiol 2005;98(1):1-14.
  8. Khandare AL, Kumar PU, Shanker RG, et al. Additional beneficial effect of tamarind ingestion over defluoridated water supply to adolescent boys in a fluorotic area. Nutrition 2004;20(5):433-436.
  9. Komutarin T, Azadi S, Butterworth L, et al. Extract of the seed coat of Tamarindus indica inhibits nitric oxide production by murine macrophages in vitro and in vivo. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004;42(4):649-658.
  10. Maiti R, Jana D, Das UK, et al. Antidiabetic effect of aqueous extract of seed of Tamarindus indica in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;92(1):85-91.
  11. Nassereddin RA, Yamani MI. Microbiological quality of sous and tamarind, traditional drinks consumed in Jordan. J Food Prot. 2005;68(4):773-777.
  12. Shivshankar P, Devi SC. Screening of stimulatory effects of dietary risk factors on mouse intestinal cell kinetics. World J Gastroenterol. 1-14-2005;11(2):242-248.
  13. Shivshankar P, Shyamala Devi CS. Evaluation of co-stimulatory effects of Tamarindus indica L. on MNU-induced colonic cell proliferation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004;42(8):1237-1244.
  14. Strickland FM, Kuchel JM, Halliday GM. Natural products as aids for protecting the skin's immune system against UV damage. Cutis 2004;74(5 Suppl):24-28.
  15. Useh NM, Nok AJ, Ambali SF, et al. The inhibition of Clostridium chauvoei (jakari strain) neuraminidase activity by methanolic extracts of the stem barks of Tamarindus indicus and Combretum fragrans. J Enzyme Inhib.Med Chem 2004;19(4):339-342.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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