The Tamarind pod, though of foreign growth, has been much valued

by our immediate ancestors as a household medicinal Simple; and a

well stocked jar of its useful curative pulp was always found in the

store cupboard of a prudent housewife. But of late years this

serviceable fruit has fallen into the background of remedial

resources, from which it may be now brought forward again with

advantage. The natives of India have
a prejudice against sleeping

under the Tamarind; and the acid damp from the trees is known to

affect the cloth of tents pitched under them for any length of time.

So strong is this prejudice of the natives against the Tamarind tree

that it is difficult to prevent them from destroying it, as they

believe it hurtful to vegetation. The parent tree, Tamar Hindee,

Indian date, is of East, or West Indian growth; but the sweet pulpy

jam containing shining stony seeds, and connected together by tough

stringy fibres, may be readily obtained at the present time from the

leading druggists, or the general provision merchant. It fulfils

medicinal purposes which entitle it to high esteem as a Simple for

use in the sick-room. Large quantities of this luscious date are

brought to our shores from the Levant and Persia, but before

importation the shell of the pod is removed; and the pulp ought not

to exhibit any presence of copper, as shown on a clean steel

knife-blade held within the same, though the fruit by nature possesses

traces of gold in its composition. Chemically, this pulp contains

citric, tartaric, [551] and malic acids, as compounds of potassium;

with gum, pectin and starch. Boiled syrup has been poured over it as

a preliminary. The fruit is sharply acid, and may be made into an

excellent cooling drink by infusion with boiling water, being

allowed to become cold, and then strained off as an agreeable tea,

which proves highly grateful to a fevered patient.

The Arabians first taught the use of Tamarinds, which contain an

unusual proportion of acids to the sweet constituents. They are

anti-putrescent, and exert a laxative action corrective of bilious

sluggishness. A capital whey may be made by boiling two ounces of

the fruit with two pints of milk, and then straining. Gerard tells that

travellers carry with them the pulp mixed with sugar throughout

the desert places of Africa.

Tamarinds are an efficient laxative if enough (from one to two

ounces) can be taken at a time: but this quantity is inconvenient, and

apt to clog by its excess of sweetness. Therefore a compressed form

of the pulp is now in the market, known as Tamar Indien lozenges,

coated with chocolate. These are combined, however, with a

purgative of greater activity, most probably jalap.

The fruit of the Tamarind is certainly antibilious, and by the virtue

of its potash salts it tends to heal any sore places within the mouth.

In India it is added as an ingredient to punch; but the tree is

superstitiously regarded as the messenger of the God of death.

When acids are indicated, to counteract septic fever, and to cool the

blood, whilst in natural harmony with the digestive functions, the

Tamarind will be found exceptionally helpful; and towards

obviating [552] constipation a dessertspoonful, or more, of the pulp

may be taken with benefit as a compote at table, together with

boiled rice, or sago. The name Tamarind is derived from tamar,

the date palm; and indus, of Indian origin. Formerly this fruit was

known as Oxyphoenica (sour date). Officinally apothecaries mix the

pulp with senna as an aperient confection. It is further used in

flavouring curries on account of its acid.