What is Velvet Tamarind?
Velvet tamarind comes under the Leguminosae family which is tall, growing under tropical climatic conditions and also bears fruits. The fruits are similar to the grapes and are consumable containing hard shells which must not be consumed. Since the fruit contains tamarind flavor it has its English name as tamarind. Taste is both sweet and sour, More than Tamarind it is sweeter, dryier and has powder like consistency with a firm shell. When the fruit is dried it becomes powdery and the orange color possess a tangy flavor. Every fruit contains only one firm seed which is flat, circular, brown in color with a width of 7-8 millimeters and a thickness of 3 mm. The seed is a look alike of a watermelons seed having 2 seeds. The seed has a glossy finish and has a coating of starch.
In Nigeria, Velvet Tamarind is popularly called Awin in Yoruba, Icheku in Igbo and Tsamiyar kurm in Hausa.
Health Benefits of Velvet Tamarind
Different parts of velvet tamarind plant have been scientifically proven to offer a wide range of health benefits, some of them are explained below:
Treats Ulcer and Prevents Hypertension: The leave extract of velvet tamarind has the ability to increase gastric mucus secretion. Therefore, a decoction of the leave can be a remedy for gastric ulcer. The leaves are also highly diuretic-promotes the production of urine, making it easier for the heart to pump blood hence, reducing the risk of hypertension.
Improves lactation and checks genital infections: A review of several studies has concluded that chewing the fruit pulp increase secretion of milk as well as check infections.
Increases Body Antioxidant Capacity: Oxidative damage which involves free radicals – highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons, is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. The abundance of antioxidants in the leaves helps protect the human body from damage caused by these free radicals when taken.
Jaundice and Diabetes Management: A decoction of velvet tamarind leaves is used in preparing medicinal solution for curing jaundice. It also lowers blood sugar and increases insulin sensitivity hence, can be used to treat diabetes.
Reliefs Menstrual Cramp and stops Diarrhoea: The stem bark extract has significant analgesic property hence, can be used to reduce menstrual pain. You can take it along with papaya leaf, salt and water to work effectively. It can also stop diarrhoea.
Malaria: According to research, the leave extract inhibits the growth of plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria therefore; taking a decoction can cure malaria.
Improves Oral hygiene and cures Tooth ache: The stem used as chewing stick (indigenous tooth brush) contains saponin which adds cleaning effect to the teeth and at the same time removes plaques and caries on the teeth of users. The stem bark decoction is also used to treat tooth ache.
Anti-inflammatory and Anti-microbial Properties: The fruit pulp contains abundant vitamin C which fights against microbial infections. The stem bark has the ability to reduce inflammation in bronchial tubes that arises due to bronchitis.
Hemorrhoids (pile): Piles are swollen veins in the anal canal caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. A study performed on ethanolic leaves extract of velvet tamarind showed it to be beneficial for pile treatment.
Treats Scurvy and Wounds: The fruit pulp has high ascorbic acid content which is an anti-scurvy vitamin hence used as food supplement. Tender leaves of velvet tamarind, when squeezed and applied on wounds, stimulates the growth of healthy skin and protects the wounds against germs and moisture.
Uses of Velvet Tamarind
- Its pulp has been used in many traditional medicines as a laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders.
- The stem used as chewing stick (indigenous tooth brush)
- This spice condiment is also used as emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc., in different pharmaceutical products.
Nutritional value of Velvet Tamarind
Velvet Tamarind rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C.