Tamarindus indica L.

Last updated: 10 Sept 2016

Scientific Name

Tamarindus indica L.        


Tamarindus occidentalis Gaertn., Tamarindus officinalis Hook., Tamarindus umbrosa Salisb. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Asam jawa, asam, celagi [2]
English Tamarind, [2] indian date, indian tamarind, tamarind tree [3]
China Suan dou, suan jiao, an mi lo [3]
India Abdika, ambia, ambli chinchika, dantashatham, gurupatra, hunase, imbli, mang-ge, pichhila, siyambala, tamar-i-hind, unise, vrksamla [3]
Indonesia Asam, asam jawa, tambaring [3]
Thailand Makam, [2] am pain, am-pian, bakham, kham, ma-khaam, ma-kham, maak kaeng, makham, mong khlong, mot le, saa mo kle, somkham, ta luup, ta-lup [3]
Laos Khaam, mak kham [3]
Philippines Asam, kalamagi, kambalagi, salamagi, salomagi, salomangue, salumagi, salunagi, sambag, sambagi, sambak, sambalagi, sampalok, tamarindo [3]
Cambodia Am pul, ampil, khoua me [3]
Vietnam Me. trai me [3]
Japan Tama-rindo [3]
Arab Homr, dakhar, tamre, tamre-nindi [4][5][6][7]
Mexico Pachuhuk, tamarindo [3].

Geographical Distributions

Tamarindus indica is found in Southeast Asia including Peninsula Malaysia. This fine tree cannot grow in dense tropical forests as its seedlings need more lights than the amount of light such forests can provide. Teak can be grown in the northern areas as the climate is dried compared to south. [2]

Botanical Description

T. indica is a member of the Fabaceae family. It is a very large evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 m high. [8][9]

It has dark grey bark with longitudinal fissures and deep cracks. [8]

The leaves are evenly pinnate, 6 to 10 cm long, with 20 to 40 leaflets, rather close, oblong, obtuse, 1 to 2 cm long. Racemes are mostly axillary though sometimes panicled, and reaching a length of 5 to 10 cm. Leaflets are ob­long, small, 1.3-2.8 cm x 5-9 mm, glabrous, base obliquely rounded, apex rounded or emarginate. [8][9]

The flowers are yellow, striped with red in lax, few flowered racemes at the ends of the branches. [8]

The fruits are pods oblong, thickened, 6 to 15 cm long, 2 to 3 cm wide, slightly compressed, the exocarp thin and crustaceous, the mesocarp pulpy acid and edible. [9]

The seeds are 3-14, brownish, shiny. [8]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

T. indica has been reported to contain(+)-catechin, (-)-epicatechin, α-oxoglutaric acid, apigenin, arabinoside, aspartic acid, β-amyrin, β-sitosterol, calcium, campesterol, carotenes, citric acid, copper, eriodictyol, fructose, galactose, glucose, glutamic acid, glyoxalic acid, inositol, iron, isovitexin, L-ascorbic acid, lupanone, lupeol,  luteolin, magnesium, maltose, mannose, methionine, naringenin, orientin, oxallic acid, oxaloacetic acid, oxalosuccinic acid, phenylalanine, potassium, phosphorus, polyose, procyanidin B2, procyanidin hexamer,  procyanidin pentamer, procyanidin tetramer, procyanidin trimer, raffinose, ribose, scilliphaeosidin-3-O-β-D-glycopyranosyl-L-rhamnopyranoside, serine, sodium, stigmasterol, succinic acid, sucrose, tartaric acid, taxifolin, tocopherol, uzarigenin-3-O-β-D-xylopyranosyl-α-L-rhamnopyranoside, uzarigenin-3-O-β-D-xylopyranosyl(1-->2)-α-L-rhamnopyranoside, vitexin, xylose, xyloglucan and zinc. [10][11]

Plant Part Used

Roots, bark, leaves, fruits and seeds. [4][6][12]

Traditional Use

The leaves of T. indica have properties such asastringent, anthelmintic, thermogenic, antifungal, diuretic, febrifuge and aperients. The leaves are used in various inflammatory conditions like swellings, wounds and ulcers and conjunctivitis. It is also being used in the treatment of skin conditions like ringworms, abscesses, scabies and smallpox. [4][6][12]

The fruit pulp of T. indica is used for Datura and alcohol intoxication. An emulsion of the pulp with dates, raisins, pomegranate seeds, fruits of Grewia asiatica and ripe Phyllanthus emblica fruits is recommended for the purpose. One of the common uses of the fruit pulp is to treat fever. The juice expressed from the pulp is taken orally or it is spread over the whole body. The pulp of the fruit is an adjunct to other laxatives like senna leaves. Aged ripe fruit (1 – 2 years) can help tonify the liver, stomach, intestines and is good for constipation. The fruits have refrigerant, digestive, carminative, laxative, antiscorbutic, antiseptic and febrifuge properties. The fruits can help to relieve gastropathy and bilious vomiting. [4][6][12]

The seeds are astringent, cooling aphrodisiac, stomachic and tonic. The seeds have been used to treat giddiness, vertigo, diabetes, general debility, haematuria and venomous bites including snake bites and scorpion sting. [4]

The root barks are astringent, emmeneagogue and tonic. Root bark is prescribed to patients with asthma and amenorrhoea. [4]

The astringent property of the root bark and seeds are effective in the treatment of gingivitis, ulcers of the mouth, diarrheal and dysentery. Decoction of the leaves or seeds is given to those who have burning urine. [4]

Preclinical Data


Immunomodulatory activity

A polysaccharide isolated from T. indica showed immunomodulatory activities including phagocytic enhancement, leukocyte migration inhibition and inhibition of cell proliferation. [13]

Antinociceptive activity

The aqueous extracts of T. indica fruit antinociceptive and analgesic properties which is both centrally and peripherally mediated. This is via activation of the opioidergic mechanism. [14]

Fluoride excreting activity

It was found that T. indica helped in delaying progression of fluorosis by enhancing excretion of fluoride through mobilization of deposited fluoride from bones. [15][16]

Antibacterial activity

Melioidosis caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei is a common life-threatening infection among rice farmers of Southeast Asia. The methanolic extract of T. indica was the only plant with significant bactericidal activity against the causative agent. [17]

Spasmogenic activity

The aqueous extract of T. indica increased the spontaneous contractile activity of guinea pig taenia coli. The activity was unaffected by atropine but high K+ and Ca2+ free solutions could induce tonic contractions. [18]

Antioxidant activity

The seeds T. indica is rich in polyphenols of the flavonoid, proanthcyanidin and procynidin. They are found to have significant antioxidant activity. Amongst the proantcyanidins isolated are (+)-catechin (2.0), procyanidin B2 (8.2), (-)-epicatechin (9.4), procyanidin trimer (11.3), procyanidin tetramer (22.2), procyanidin pentamer (11.6), procyanidin hexamer (12.8) along with taxifolin (7.4), apigenin (2.0), eriodictyol (6.9), luteolin (5.0) and naringenin (1.4) of total phenols, respectively. The procynidins are represented by oligomeric procyanidin tetramer (30.2), procyanidin hexamer (23.8), procyanidin trimer (18.1), procyanidin pentamer (17.6) with lower amounts of procyanidin B2 (5.5) and (-)-epicatechin (4.8). The fruit pulp also exhibit antioxidant activity together with hypolipidemic activity. [11][19][20]

Antivenom activity

T. indica seeds showed sufficient antivenom property againsts Vipera russelli. Vipera russelli venom induces predominantly neurotoxic, myotoxic necrotic and hemorrhagic symptoms in experimental animals and has several hydrolytic enzyme activities. The seed extract was able to inhibit the PLA(2), protease, hyaluronidase, l-amino acid oxidase and 5’-nucleotidase enzyme activities of the venom. These are the major hydrolytic enzyme responsible for the early effects of envenomation such as local tissue damage, inflammation and hypotension. The extract was found to neutralize the degradation of the Beta chain of human fibrinogen and indirect haemolysis caused by the venom. Oedema, haemorrhage and myotoxic effects including lethality caused by the venom were neutralized when preincubated with the venom. Animals that received extracts 10 minutes after injection of venom were found to be protected from the toxic effects of the venom. [21]

Hypocholesterolaemic and antihypertensive activity

T. indica pulverized dried fruit pulp had hypolipidaemic activity that helped to reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels significantly in a dose of 15mg/kg body weight. It was found to be able to reduce the diastolic blood pressure. [22]

Antidiabetic activity

The aqueous extract of the seeds of T. indica could reduce the blood sugar level of STZ-induced diabetic male rats. It also significantly increased liver and skeletal muscle glycogen. [23]


Acute toxicity activity

Toxicological study done by Silva et al proved that extract of T. indica is free of clastogenic and genotoxic effects in cells of rodents administered orally at three acute doses. [24]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Co-administration of chloroquin with T. indica juice could reduce the bioavailability of chloroquin. [25]

T. indica fruit extract was found to significantly increase the bioavailability of aspirin and ibuprofen. [26]


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Tamarindus indica L.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2010 Jul 14; cited 2016 Sept 15] Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/ild-1720.
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 380.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 502-503.
  4. Warrier PK, Nambiar VPK, Ramankutty C, Vasudevan NR. Indian medicinal plant: A compendium of 500 species - Volume 5. Sangam Books, 1993; p. 235–237.
  5. George S, Kristiansen MS. Ethnic culinary herbs: A guide to identification and cultivation in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press, 1999; pg. 97.
  6. Panda H. Herbs cultivation and medicinal uses. National Institute of Industrial Research Delhi, 2000; pg. 584–586.
  7. Johannes S. World spice plants: Economic usage, botany, taxonomy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2005; pg. 35.
  8. Flora of China. Tamarindus indica Linnaeus. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200012330.
  9. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Sampalok (Tamarindus indica Linn.). [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2016 Aug; cited 2016 Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Sampalok.html.
  10. Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database. Tamarindus indica (Fabaceae). [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Sept 10]. Available from: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/farmacy2.pl.
  11.  Sudjaroen Y, Haubner R, Würtele G, et al. Isolation and structure elucidation of phenolic antioxidants from Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) seeds and pericarp. Food Chem Toxicol. 2005;43(11):1673-1682.
  12. Johathan P. The elements of materia medica and therapeutics. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1857; p. 349.
  13. Sreelekha TT, Vuijayakumar T, Ankanthil R, Vijayan KK, Nair MK. Immunomodulatory effects of a polysaccharide from Tamarindus indica. Anticancer Drugs. 1993;4(2):209-212.
  14. Khalid S, Shaik MWM, Israf DA et al. In vivo analgesic effect of aqueous extract of Tamarindus indica L. fruits. Med Princ Pract. 2010;19(4):255-259.
  15. Khandare AL, Rao GS, Lakshmaiah N. Effect of tamarind ingestion on fluoride excretion in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56(1):82-85.
  16. Khandare AL, Kumar PU, Shanker RG, Venkaiah K, Lakshmaiah N. Additional beneficial effect of tamarind ingestion over defluoridated water supply to adolescent boys in a fluorotic area. Nutrition. 2004;20(5):433-436.
  17. Muthu SE, Nandakumar S, Rao UA. The effect of methanolic extract of Tamarindus indica Linn. on the growth of clinical isolates of Burkholderia pseudomallei. Indian J Med Res. 2005;122(6):525-528.
  18. Souza A, Aka KJ. Spasmogenic effect of the aqueous extract of Tamarindus indica L. (Caesalpiniaceae) on the contractile activity of guinea-pig taenia coli. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2007;4(3):261-266.
  19. Komutarin T, Azadi S, Butterworth L, et al. Extract of the seed coat of Tamarindus indica inhibits nitric oxide production by murine macrophages in vitro and in vivo. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004;42(4):649-658.
  20. Martinello F, Soares SM, Franco JJ, et al. Hypolipemic and antioxidant activities from Tamarindus indica L. pulp fruit extract in hypercholesterolemic hamsters. Food Chem Toxicol. 2006;44(6):810-818.
  21. Ushanandini S, Nagaraju S, Harish Kumar K, et al. The anti-snake venom properties of Tamarindus indica (leguminosae) seed extract. Phytother Res, 2006;20(10):851-858.
  22. Iftekhar AS, Rayhan I, Quadir MA, Akhteruzzaman S, Hasnat A. Effect of Tamarindus indica fruits on blood pressure and lipid-profile in human model: An in vivo approach. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2006;19(2):125-129.
  23. Maiti R, Jana D, Das UK, Ghosh D. Antidiabetic effect of aqueous extract of seed of Tamarindus indica in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;92(1):85-91.
  24. Silva FM, Leite MF, Spadaro AC, Uyemura SA, Maistro EL. Assessment of the potential genotoxic risk of medicinal Tamarindus indica fruit pulp extract using in vivo assays. Genet Mol Res. 2009;8(3):1085-1092.
  25. Mahmoud BM, Ali HM, Homeida MM, Bennett JL. Significant reduction in chloroquine bioavailability following coadministration with the Sudanese beverages Aradaib, Karkadi and Lemon. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1994;33(5):1005-1009.
  26. Mustapha A, Yakasai IA, Aguye IA. Effect of Tamarindus indica L. on the bioavailability of aspirin in healthy human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 1996;21(3):223-226.