Velvet tamarind (dialium guineense) commonly known as ‘icheku’in igbo, ‘awin’ in yoruba and ‘tsamiyar- kurm’ in hausa is a woody plant that occurs in the rain forest region of west Africa. It has smooth grayish bark, dark green glossy leaves and whitish flowers which bears densely velvet black fruit that are less circular and flattened.
The pulp of the fruit is edible and sweet, rich in vitamin C, sodium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It is used as flavor in snacks and non alcoholic beverages.
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:
1. 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.
2. Malaria : According to research, the leave extract inhibits the growth of plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria therefore; taking a decoction can cure malaria.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Velvet Tamarind increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the body : 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 take.
10. 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.