Sampalok is a large tree
12 to 25 meters high, nearly glabrous. Leaves are evenly pinnate, 6 to 10 centimeters long, with 20 to 40 leaflets, rather
close, oblong, obtuse, 1 to 2 centimeters long. Racemes are mostly axillary though sometimes panicled, and reaching a length of 5 to 10 centimeters.
Calyx is about 1 centimeter long, the calyx tube turbinate,
the teeth lanceolate, much imbricated, the lower 2 connate. Petals are yellowish with pink
stripes, obovate-oblong, less than 1 centimeter long. Only the
3 upper petals developed, the 2 lateral ones ovate, the upper hooded,
the 2 lower ones reduced to scales. Stamens monadelphous, only 3 developed,
ovary many-ovuled. Fruits are pods oblong, thickened, 6 to 15 centimeters long, 2 to 3 centimeters
wide, slightly compressed, the exocarp thin and crustaceous, the mesocarp
pulpy acid and edible.
- Planted throughout the settled areas of the Philippines.
- An attractive ornamental along avenues.
- Prehistoric introduction.
- Probably a native of tropical Africa.
- Pantropic in cultivation.
- Fixed oil, 15-20%; citric,
acetic, butyric and oxalic acids; tannin; pectin.
- Various studies have shown high amounts of crude protein and essential amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.
- An analysis of tamarind pulp yielded: citric acid, 9.40; tartaric acid, 1.55; malic acid, 0.45; bitartrate of potash, 3.25; sugar, 12.5, gum, 4.7; vegetable jelly (pectin), 6.25; parenchyma, 34.35; and water, 27.55.
- Seed yielded tannin, a fixed oil, and insoluble matter. Analysis showed albuminoids, fat, carbohydrates, 63.22; fiber; and ash containing phosphorus and nitrogen.
- Fruit yields a trace of oxalic acid.
- Bark of old trees yield 7 per cent tannin.
Plant yielded thirty two fatty acids, two other compounds 9ß, 19-cyclo-4 ß4, 4, 14, ҳ-trimethyl-5ά-cholestan- 3ß-ol, 24R-ethyl cholest-5-en, 3β-ol and 12 essential elements viz., arsenic, calcium, cadmium, copper, iron, sodium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, lead, and zinc. The largest amount of SFAs is 14.5% n-heptadecanoate, 13.00% hexadecanoic acid and n-nonadecanoate, 6.1% n-octadecanoic, 5.00% methyl-n-pentacosanoic 4.45%, n-tetradecanoate 4.2 %, n- heptacosanoate 4.1%. The largest amount of (UFAs) is nenodecenoic acid 9.2 %,10-octadecenoicacid 7.8%, etc. (30)
- Elemental analysis yielded
(mg/kg) Mn 25.9, Ca 20.2, P 30.4, Na 10.9, As 54.25 µg/kg, Fe 14.07, Zn 8.52, K 7.16, Pb 0.27, Cd 3.36, Cu 0.76, Mg 60.1. (30)
- Propagation by seed, soaked in water for 8 to 9 days before transplanting.
- Flowering from April
digestive, antiasthmatic, febrifuge, carminative, antiscorbutic,
- Bark is considered astringent and tonic.
- Pulp considered refrigerant and laxative.
- Seed and testa are astringent.
· Leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark.
Edibility / Culinary / Nutrition
- As a souring condiment.
- Source of vitamins B and C.
- Sweetened and candied. The seeds, surrounded by a brownish pulp, tamarindo, are made into balls from which jams, sweets and drinks are made. The pulp, malasebo, is often eaten outright, with or without salt. The pulp is also an ingredient in Indian curries and chutnies.
- In India, seeds are eaten after the outer skin has been removed by roasting or soaking; then boiled or fried.
- The seed is sometimes used as famine food by aboriginal tribes.
- Young leaves and very young seedlings and flowers are cooked and eaten as greens and used popularly in the Philippines for seasoning "sinigang," and in India for curries. In Zimbabwe, leaves used in soups, flowers in salads.
- In some part of tropical America, a fermented drink is made from the pulp.
• In the Philippines, the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds are used medicinally in the way it is used in other countries.
• Decoction of leaves used as an aromatic bath for fevers, puerperism, and convalescence.
• Fever: Macerate pulp or ripe fruit in water,
sweeten to taste, and drink.
• Laxative: Pulp is considered a mild laxative because of the presence of potassium bitartrate. Eat pulp of ripe fruit liberally
and follow with plenty of water.
• Asthma: Bark; chop and boil a foot-long piece
of bark in 3 glasses of water for 10 minutes. Adults, 1 cup after every
meal and at bedtime; children, 1/2 cup 4 times daily; babies, 2 tbsp
4 times daily.
• Decoction of ash: For colic, indigestion; as gargle for sore throats,
• Ash is considered astringent and tonic; used internally as a digestive. Ash preparation: Fry the bark with common salt in an earthen pot until
it turns to powdered white ash; a heaping teaspoon of the ash to half-cup of boiling
water; cool and drink for colic and indigestion.
• Poultice or lotion from bark applied to ulcers, boils, and rashes.
• Poultice of leaves to inflammatory swellings of ankles and joints.
• Decoction of leaves as postpartum tea; also used as a wash for indolent
• Flowers used for conjunctival inflammation. Internally, as decoction or infusion,
for bleeding piles (4 glasses of tea daily).
• Pulp surrounding the seeds is considered cooling and a gentle laxative.
• Gargle of tamarind water used for healing aphthous ulcers and sore throat.
• Tamarind pulp considered preventive and curative for scurvy.
• In Mauritius, the Creoles mix salt with the pulp and use it as a liniment for rheumatism.
• Tamarind infusion considered carminative and digestive, antiscorbutic and antibilious.
• Young leaves used as fomentation for rheumatism and applied to sores and wounds.
• In Malaya decoction of leaves used for fevers.
• The leaves crushed with water and expressed, used for bilious fever and in scalding of urine.
• Poultice of leaves crushed in water used for ankle and joint inflammations to reduce swelling and pain.
• Decoction of leaves used as a wash for indolent ulcers.
• Poultice of flowers used for conjunctival inflammation. Juice expressed from flowers used internally for bleeding piles.
• In rural India where natural spring water yields high amounts of fluoride, a small amount of tamarind fruit is added to a pot of water overnight to be used for drinking. (See fluoride toxicity amelioration) (18)
• Juice of leaves, warmed by dipping a red hot iron, used in dysentery.
• Powdered seeds are given in dysentery; boiled and decocted, used as a poultice for boils.
• In Cambodia, filtered hot juice of leaves used for conjunctivitis.
• In the West Indies, decoction of leaves used jaundice and for worms in children.
• Hindu physicians apply pounded leaves to erysipelas.
• In Mauritius a bark decoction is used for asthma.
• In Madagascar, bark decoction used for asthma and amenorrhea.
• In East Sudan, the bark is considered tonic and febrifuge.
- Dyeing / Mordant: Leaves and flowers useful as mordants in dyeing. Yellow dye from the leaves colors wool red and turns indigo-dyed silk to green. Leaves used in bleaching buri palm to prepare it for hat making. In Java, an ink is obtained by burning the bark. The Hindus Kamaras use the starch in doll painting.
- Fodder: Leaves eaten by cattle and goats. Also, a fodder for silkworms.
- Nectar: Flowers are considered a good source of nectar for honeybees in South India.
- Seeds: Powder from tamarind kernels used in the Indian textile industry in several processes - sizing, finishing cotton, jute and spun viscose.
- Wood: Highly prized for furniture, paneling, wheels, axles, mill gears, planking, mallets, handles, walking sticks, etc. In Mexico, wood is used for boiling purposes and provided an excellent source of charcoal for the manufacture of gunpowder.
- Oil: Seeds yield an amber oil, useful as illuminant and a varnish.
Aqueous pulp extract study showed antibacterial activity against all
strains tested. Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, alkaloids and
glycosides. Study confirms the traditional use of the plant for the treatment
of infections. (1)
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of extracts from T. indica ripe fruit and Piper nigrum seed against S aureus, E coli, P aeruginosa and Salmonella typhi. The ethanol extract of T indica showed higher activity against all test bacteria than that from P nigrum.
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Induced Toxicity:
Study showed a significant hepatoprotective effect with the aqueous
extracts of tamarind leaves, fruits and unroasted seeds on paracetamol
intoxicated rats. (2) Study evaluated the protective effects of ethanolic extract of T. indica leaves and seeds in comparison to vitamin E on paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in Long Evans rats. Results showed hepatoprotective activity comparable to vitamin E, a known hepatoprotective agent.
• Anti-venom activity:
Extracts of tamarind inhibited the major hydrolytic enzymes of early
envenomation (local tissue damage, inflammation, hypotension). It also
neutralized indirect hemolysis. It presents an alternative to serum
• Aspirin Bioavailability:
Study showed Tamarindus indica fruit extract significantly increased
the bioavailability of aspirin. (4)
• Cosmetic Potential:
Seed husk extract with polyphenolic components (Polyant-T) was tested
for antioxidant efficiency and provides a potential use for color cosmetics
and sunscreens. (5)
• Hypolipidemic / Blood Pressure Effect / Fruits:
Fruits were evaluated for effects on lipid profile, blood pressure and weight. Dried and pulverized pulp of fruits showed a beneficial effect on the lipid profile with a significant
lowering of the total and LDL-chol without affecting the HDL level.
There was also a significant reduction of diastolic blood pressure. (6)
• Chemical Constituents:
Study revealed the presence of 21 saturated (67.5%) and 11 unsaturated fatty acids (30.15%). The results showed great variation in fatty acids, elemental composition and total protein attributed to environmental and ecological factors.
• Anti-Diabetic / Seeds / Pancreatic Islets: Study of aqueous extract of Tamarindus indica seeds against STZ-induced damages in pancreatic islands showed AETIS partially restores pancreatic beta cells and repairs STZ-induced damages in rats. (10)
• Anti-Diabetic: Study of aqueous extract of seed showed potent antidiabetogenic activity that reduces blood sugar in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rat. (14)
• Anti-Diabetic / Fruits and Seeds: Study showed extracts of both fruit and seeds significantly lowered blood glucose levels in mice compared to control.(16)
• Anti-Melioidosis: Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a life-threatening infection common among paddy cultivators in Southeast Asian countries. Study showed the methanolic extracts of T indica has anti-B. pseudomallei inhibitory potentials under invitro conditions. (11)
• Spasmolytic: Study of the methanolic extract of fruits of Tamarindus indica on rabbit's jejunum preparations showed relaxing effects probably through calcium channel blockade. (12)
• Genotoxicity Study: Study of extract made with T. indica was devoid of clastogenic and genotoxic activities in cells of rodents, when administered orally at three acute doses. (13)
• Antioxidant: Study of T indica seed coat extract was found to possess strong antioxidant activity attributed to free radical scavenging activity. (15)
• Analgesic: Study showed the aqueous extract of T indica possesses potential antinociceptive activity at both peripheral and central levels, mediated via an opioidergic mechanism. (17)
• Fluoride Toxicity Amelioration: Fluoride is a cumulative poison, toxicity leading to bony and dental lesions developing over a period of time. Study showed the extracts of both T. indica and M. oleifera have some potential to mitigate fluoride toxicity. Changes in plasma biochemistry suggested less hepatic and renal damages in animals receiving plant extracts along with fluorinated water compared to those receiving fluorinated water alone. (18)
• Anthelmintic: Study using an Indian earthworm as test worm confirmed T. indica's anthelmintic activity. The root extract not only demonstrated paralysis and also caused death in a shorter period of time compared to the reference drug Piperazine citrate. (19)
• Acute Toxicity / Hepatotoxicokinetic Studies / Stem Bark: A crude extract of stem-bark was evaluated for toxicity and hepatotoxicokinetics on Wistar rats. Brine shrimp lethality assessment resulted in 70% (200 µg/mL) and 10% (20µg/mL) nauplii death with crude extract. Hepatotoxicokinetics dosing wistar rats with crude fractions at 25% and 50% of predetermined LD50 on chicken embryos showed elevation in the AST and ALT. Results suggest that dose standardization in folk herbal medicine is imperative as T. indica used as food and medicine has been shown to be toxic at high doses. (22)
• Antibacterial / Stem Bark and Leaves: Phytochemical studies yielded tannins, saponins, sesquiterpenes, alkaloids, and phlobatamins. Extracts of stem bark and leaves were active against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. (23)
• ENO1 / Effect on Alpha Enolase Release / Lipid Effects: Study of a methanol extract of T. indica fruit pulp altered the release of ENO1, ApoA-I, TTR and GDI-2 from HepG2 cells. Results support the effect of T. indica on cellular lipid metabolism, particularly that of cholesterol. (24)
• Antibacterial / Pulp Extract: Study evaluated an aqueous pulp extract of T. indica against four bacteria (E coli, S aureus, P aeruginosa and S typhi). The extract showed activity against tested bacteria: S. aureus >E coli>P aeruginosa. (25)
• Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Hepatotoxicity: Study in Wistar rats showed an ethanolic extract of fruit pulp of Tamarindus indica ameliorated the damage caused by CCl4, with lowering of enzymes and bilirubin, further verified by histopathological improvement. (26)
• Antioxidative / Diabetic Benefits / Bark: Study evaluated the antioxidative effect of an ethanolic extract of bark of T. indica to normoglycemic and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Results showed a significant decrease in peroxidation products, an increase in glutathione and glycogen content. The extract exhibited antioxidant property and an antidiabetic effect more effective than glibenclamide. (27)
• Tamarindus indica seed polysaccharide (TSP) Eye Drops / Dry Eye Syndrome: Clinical trials evaluated a form of eye drops utilizing Tamarindus indica seed polysaccharide for the treatment of severe dry eyes, including Sjogren's syndrome, for patients sensitive to preservatives. Results showed long lasting effect, clinical improvement in dry eye symptoms, compatibility with contact lenses, and mucomimetic properties. (28)
• Hypocholesterolemic / Antioxidant / Fruit Pulp: Study postulates that tamarind fruit pulp exerts hypocholesterolemic effect by increasing cholesterol effux, enhancing LDL-C uptake and clearance, suppressing triglyceride accumulation and inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis. The fruit pulp extract has potential antioxidative effects and is potentially protective against diet induced hypercholesterolemia. (32)
- Cultivated for fruiting and culinary use.
- Sweetened and candied.