Manila tamarind is a tropical leguminous plant that’s also known by several other names such as madras thorn, camachile and monkey pod tree. The pod and fruits are edible and can be eaten raw or pressed into a wine.
Manila tamarind is native to Mexico, Central America, and northern part of South America. When planted, it can grow to about 10 – 15 m in height with a spreading, rounded crown, spiny branches, and short, multiple boles. The leaves are bipinnate. The flowers are fragrant, greenish-white, and form into round dense heads.
The leaves, stem bark, fruits, pods, and roots are all valuable in traditional medicine, and can be utilise in formulation of different home remedies.
Nutritional benefits of Manila tamarind
Manila tamarind is fortified with health improving nutrients such as:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- The B vitamins and
- Vitamin C
Others include fiber, fat and water. The mineral content of the plant fruit include Calcium, phosphorus, and iron. These minerals are of great important for your body, as you will see in the course of reading this article.
What are the health benefits of Manila tamarind?
Manila tamarind is used in traditional medicine for several health challenges. Both the fruits and leaves of the plant are of great importance in folk medicines. Some studies have also shown that the seeds and stem bark of Pithecellobium dulce possess important health benefits which i shall do well to explain in details in this article. So join me as we take a journey into the numerous health benefits of Manila tamarind plant.
Manila tamarind is beneficial for pregnancy
Consuming manila tamarind during pregnancy is a good way to prevent so many birth defects associated with some nutrient deficiencies. Tamarind fruits are fortified with high content of polyphenols, and flavonoids which aid in protecting a pregnant woman from gestational diabetes. They also possess iron which ensures that hemoglobin for adequate circulation of oxygenated red blood cells to every cell of your body. By these means, madras thorn fruits ensure that a pregnant woman does not develop pregnancy induced anemia.
Aside the aforementioned benefits, manila tamarind also possess in high quantity, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which are strong antioxidants. They help in preventing the harmful effect of free radicals on the fetus and maternal cells. This is done by complimenting the activities of glutathione, a natural antioxidant in the body, which is usually overpowered by increasing concentration of free radicals in the body. During the delivery period, you may supplement your manila tamarind with okra water, which is believed in traditional medicines to aid child delivery.
Protects your cardiovascular health
Manila tamarind is an excellent source of antioxidants, which offer protection to your heart from lipid peroxidation and the deposition of low density lipoprotein cholesterol on the walls of your blood vessels. A study conducted on the fruit peels of madras thorn showed that manila tamarind fruit peel extracts positively altered the activities of marker enzymes and biochemical parameters in ISO-induced rats.
Study on the seed oil of madras thorn plant show the presence of nine unsaturated fatty acids. These unsaturated fatty acids are good for your heart health as they increase the level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, otherwise known as the good cholesterol, in your body. Unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and oleic acid are good for your health. Most times, these fatty acids are found in fish oil, leaving vegetarians in dilemma with regards to the consumption of the oil. The good news is that you can source those good fatty acids from plants, such as manila tamarind seed oil. Another plant oil with similar cardiovascular protective properties is watermelon seed oil. Others include perilla seed oil and blue oyster mushroom.
Manila tamarind leaves for tuberculosis
In the ancient traditional medical practices, the leaves of manila tamarind is used in the treatment of tuberculosis due to its antibacterial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This practice has been supported by studies which proved that the alcoholic extract of the plant leaf exhibited antimicrobial activities against the disease causing bacteria.
Madras thorn may improve memory and cognition
A regular consumption of manila tamarind fruits will greatly improve your memory and cognitive ability. This is because the plant fruits are packed with strong antioxidants which protects your brain from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. Also, the vitamin B1 is associated with increased cognition and memory improvement. A study showed that vitamin thiamine deficiency is associated with neurological problems, including cognitive deficits and encephalopathy. Vitamin B1 is also associated with improved morale.
Vitamin E is another important nutrient for the brain function. A new study conducted by Dr. Margaret Traber at Oregon State University suggests that vitamin E regulates the brain’s ability to receive and use DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. In the brain, DHA forms DHA-PC, a critical component of neuron membranes. When neurons lose membrane integrity, they can’t function properly. Thus, manila tamarind is a good fruit for maintaining brain health and integrity, and for sustaining its functions.
May improve eyesight
Madras thorn fruits are packed with vitamin A, which is associated with good eyesight. Vitamin A is not, however, the only important vitamins for the eyes. Other vitamins, especially the B vitamins have been shown to influence the functions of your eyes. For instance, Vitamins B2, B3, and B6 deficiencies are associated with dry eyes and eye infections. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to pernicious anemia and may cause retinal bleeding, destruction of nerve tissue, and lead to permanent vision loss.
The good news here is that manila tamarind fruits are well packed with these vitamins. The antioxidant activities of vitamins C and E protects the eyes from oxidative stress which often adversely affects the muscles of the eye retina, and may cause cataract.
Manila tamarind improves diabetes conditions
In recent times, there has been increased reports of cases of diabetes. More worrisome however, is that many young people are being diagnosed with this ugly autoimmune disease. There are many efforts going on the find a permanent solution to diabetes. However, some of the synthetic drugs discovered so far do pose adverse effects on the patient, leaving us with the choice of intensified search for alternative medicine for diabetes.
One of the few herbal plants with antidiabetic properties is Pithecellobium dulce. Study of ethanolic and aqueous leaf extract of Pithecellobium dulce in STZ-induced diabetic model in rats showed significant activity, aqueous more than the alcoholic extract, which is comparable to glibenclamide, a standard drug for diabetes. This may be attributed to its inhibitory effects on α-Glucosidase and α-Amylase enzymes. These two enzymes are know for metabolizing carbohydrates, thereby increasing the post-prandial blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
By inhibiting the two enzymes, and through its antioxidant activities, manila tamarind leaves and stem bark can improve diabetic condition through the improvement in insulin productions and sensitivity.
If your are treating gastric ulcer, manila tamarind may just be one the fruits you must not do without.
A study evaluated the antiulcer activity of hydro-alcoholic fruit extract of Pithecellobium dulce on a cysteamine induced duodenal ulcer model in male albino Wistar rats.
The result of the study showed that the fruit extract possesses antioxidant and cytoprotective antiulcer activity, and suggests possible antiulcer activity with its free-radical scavenging and inhibition of H, K-ATPase activities comparable to omeprazole.
Possess hypolipidemic properties
Manila tamarind fruits, leaves and bark possess strong hypolipidemic activities that you can utilise to reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your body.
A regular intake of the leaf powder tea will ensure that your cholesterol level is kept in chake.
Helps digestion and prevents constipation
Both the leaves and stem bark of Manila tamarind possess enough fiber that promotes digestion and prevents in indigestion. The fruits also aids in digestion and stop abdominal pains. The leaf tea is given to people who suffer diarrhea or abdominal pains to ease their discomfort.
Manila is a natural precursor of some nanoparticles
It has been suggested that is a source of natural precursors for the synthesis of some nanoparticles, for medicinal usages. A study reported on the biosynthesis of titanium dioxide nanoparticles using Pithecellobiumdulce and Lagenariasiceraria aqueous leaf extract. The nanoparticles synthesized by biological method showed a higher antioxidant potential and antimicrobial activity than chemically synthesized.
Possess larvicidal properties
Aside being used to treat malaria and other health diseases, the leaves of manila tamarind is also a potent larvicidal agent. Study evaluated various extracts of Pithecellobium dulce for larvicidal and ovicidal potential against mosquito vectors, Anopheles stephensi and Aedesaegypti. All leaf and seed extracts showed moderate larvicidal and ovicidal effects;
however, the methanol extract of leaf showed the highest larval activity. Results suggest the seed and leaf extracts have potential as an eco-friendly option for mosquito vector control.
Raghu Praveen A et al. Anti diabetic activity of bark extract of Pithecellobium Dulce benth in alloxan- induced diabetic rats. Natural products. An Indian journal. 2010; 6(4):201-204.
Govindarajan Marimuthu, Rajeswary Mohan. Mosquito larvicidal & ovicidal properties of Pithecellobium Dulce. (Roxb) Benth. (Fabaceae) against Culex quinque fasciatus say (Diptera: Culicidae) Journal of Coastal Life medicine. 2014; 2(4):308-312.
Choday Venu, Ramanjaneyulu K, Satish Reddy N, Vijayalaxmi B, Bhavana Alla. Evaluation of anti-diarrheal activity of ethanolic extracts of Pithecellobium dulce on Castor oil induce diarrhea in albino wistar rats. Discovery. 2016; 52(246):1494-1496.