Tamarind health benefit -- Tamarindus indica tree and seed -- by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 6 2016

In Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, tamarind juice from the tamarind tree can be a drink prepared by infusing dried tamarind pulp. Tamarind is also prepared as a paste and sauce and included in a recipe. Tamarind is also used in India as part of the Ayurvedic herb medicine.

Tamarind benefits
In animal studies, tamarind has been found to be helpful for healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels which could make it useful for those with diabetes.

Tamarind seed eye drops
Eye drops made from tamarind seeds may be a treatment for dry eye syndrome. Tamarind seed polysaccharide is adhesive, enabling it to stick to the surface of the eye longer than other eye preparations. Tamarind seed polysaccharide is used as an ingredient in food material and in pharmaceutical products. Drs. Maurizio Rolando and Cristiana Valente from the University of Genoa, Italy had 30 dry-eye sufferers use Tamarind seed polysaccharide or hyaluronic acid drops three or more times per day for 90 days. The Tamarind seed polysaccharide eye drops performed as well as the hyaluronic acid drops on several measures of dry eye syndrome. Furthermore, the Tamarind seed polysaccharide drops did a significantly better job of relieving several key subjective symptoms of dry eye syndrome - namely, trouble blinking, ocular burning, and the sensation of having something in one's eye..  BioMed Central - Ophthalmology, 2007.

Kidney protection
Pharm Biol. Jan 13 2014. Protective potential of Tamarindus indica against gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity.

Indian J Exp Biol. 2016. Protective role of diet supplements Spirulina and Tamarind fruit pulp on kidney in sodium fluoride exposed Swiss albino mice: Histological and biochemical indices. Fluoride toxicity through potable water, particularly ground water, is not uncommon in countries such as India, China, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, parts of Africa and Afghanistan. Kidney being the main organ involved in fluoride removal, it accumulates considerable amount of fluoride. Here, we report toxic effects of oral exposure of Swiss albino mice to fluoride (sub-acute: 190 mg/kg body wt. for 7 days; and sub-chronic: 94 mg/kg body wt. for 90 days) and recovery of sub-chronic fluoride exposed mice after 90 days of sodium fluoride (NaF) withdrawal. The role of diet supplements (Spirulina and tamarind fruit pulp @ 230 mg/kg body wt. independently as well as in combination) in amelioration of fluoride toxicity has also been screened. The diet modulation not only reduced fluoride toxicity but also led to better recovery of treated mice after withdrawal, especially in combination.

Tamarind Research
Effects of dietary tamarind on  cholesterol metabolism in laying hens
Poult Sci. 2005.
An experiment was conducted to evaluate the potential for dietary tamarind to alter serum and egg yolk cholesterol concentrations and overall performance in different layer strains. Thirty, 43-wk-old, Hisex Brown, ISA Brown, Lohmann Brown, Starcross Brown, Babcock B-300, and Starcross-579 strains (5 hens per strain) were fed diets supplemented with 0 (control), 2, 4, 6, or 8% oven-dried tamarind for 6 wk. Egg production, egg mass, and efficiency of feed utilization followed a quadratic response with a maximum when the diet contained 2% tamarind and a minimum when 8% tamarind was fed. There were no differences among strains for egg production, egg weight, yolk weight, egg mass, feed consumption, or feed efficiency. Yolk weight increased linearly (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of dietary tamarind in wk 1, 2, and 3 as well as when averaged over 6 wk. Egg yolk cholesterol concentrations were not affected by dietary tamarind. Serum cholesterol concentrations, however, decreased quadratically with increasing levels of dietary tamarind. It was concluded that 2% supplemental dietary tamarind could decrease serum cholesterol concentrations and increase layer performance.

Additional beneficial effect of tamarind ingestion over defluoridated water supply to adolescent boys in a fluorotic area.
Nutrition. 2004.
We evaluated the effect of tamarind (Tamarindus indicus) on ingestion and whether it provides additional beneficial effects on mobilization of fluoride from the bone after children are provided defluoridated water. A randomized, diet control study was conducted in 30 subjects from a fluoride endemic area after significantly decreasing urinary fluoride excretion by supplying defluoridated water for 2 wk. Subjects were then assigned to one of two groups, with 15 in each group. One group was supplemented with tamarind (experimental group) for 3 wk and the other (control) group was given only defluoridated water for the same period. The mean changes in urinary components after tamarind ingestion (volume, pH, fluoride calcium, copper, and magnesium) in the control and experimental groups were compared. There was a significant increase in fluoride excretion and urinary pH and a significant decrease in urinary calcium and copper excretion in the experimental group as compared with the control group. There was no change in urinary volume between groups. Tamarind intake appears to have an additional beneficial effect on the mobilization of deposited fluoride from bone, by enhancing urinary excretion of fluoride. Tamarind tree.

Antidiabetic effect of aqueous extract of seed of Tamarindus indica - tamarind seed - in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004.
In Indian traditional system of medicine, herbal remedies are prescribed for the treatment of diseases including diabetes mellitus. In recent years, plants are being effectively tried in a variety of pathophysiological states. Tamarind is one of them. In the present study, aqueous extract of seed of Tamarind was found to have potent antidiabetogenic activity that reduces blood sugar level in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic male rat.

Effect of xyloglucan (tamarind seed polysaccharide) on conjunctival cell adhesion to laminin and on corneal epithelium wound healing.
Eur J Ophthalmol. 2000.
To explore the role of a natural polysaccharide extracted from tamarind seed (xyloglucan, or tamarind seed polysaccharide, TSP) on the integrin-substrate recognition system and on repair of corneal wounds. METHODS: a) Cultured human conjunctival cells were labeled by addition of a tritiated amino acid mixture. Their adhesion to laminin-coated culture wells in the absence or presence of TSP was checked by radioactivity count. b) The corneal epithelium of albino rabbits was damaged by applying a paper disc soaked with n-heptanol. The eyes were then treated with TSP, with a hyaluronate reference formulation and with normal saline solution (controls). The diameter of corneal wounds was measured daily, after fluorescein staining. Compared to hyaluronate, TSP slightly but significantly increased the wound healing rate. TSP 1.0% exerted a positive influence on cell adhesion to laminin, up to a certain laminin concentration. The ability of the polysaccharide to promote corneal wound healing might depend on its influence on the integrin recognition system.

Lack of carcinogenicity of tamarind seed polysaccharide in B6C3F1 mice.
Food Chem Toxicol. 1996.
The carcinogenic potential of tamarind seed polysaccharide was examined in both sexes of B6C3F1 mice. Groups of 50 male and 50 female animals were given diets containing 0, 1.25 and 5% of tamarind seed polysaccharide for 78 wk. Body weight retardation was exhibited by the females in the 1.25 and 5% groups from 34 wk to termination. However, there were no treatment-related clinical signs or adverse effects on survival rate, food and water consumption, haematology findings or organ weights. Detailed histopathological examination also revealed no treatment-related increase in the incidence of any non-neoplastic or neoplastic lesions. These results demonstrated that tamarind seed polysaccharide is not carcinogenic in B6C3F1 mice of either sex. tamarind paste and tamarind seed.

Microbiological quality of sous and tamarind, traditional drinks consumed in Jordan.
J Food Prot. 2005. Nassereddin RA, Yamani MI.
Department of Nutrition and Food Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.
This study was conducted to evaluate the microbiological quality of sous (a drink prepared by extracting dried roots of Glycyrrhiza glabra - licorice) and tamarind (a drink prepared by infusing Tamarindus indica dried pulp), traditional drinks consumed in Jordan. Twenty-one samples of sous and 44 samples of tamarind were collected from the local market in Amman, Jordan. Water is the major component of the drinks. Sous drink is characterized by having an alkaline pH (range, 6.6 to 9.9; mean, 8.6), whereas tamarind drink has an acidic pH (range, 1.8 to 3.7; mean, 2.8). The drinks are not processed for safety before serving, and at some vendors drinks are not properly refrigerated. The mean counts for aerobic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts in sous drink samples were 5.9, 5.0, and 3.8 log CFU/ml, respectively; those in tamarind drink samples were 4.0, <1, and 5.8 log CFU/ml, respectively. The lactic acid bacteria isolated were Enterococcus raffinosus, Enterococcus hirae, Enterococcus durans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus buchneri. The yeast isolates in sous drink were from the genera Candida, Filobasidium, Hanseniaspora, Lodderomyces, Pichia, and Williopsis, and those in tamarind drink were from Arthroascus, Brettanomyces, Candida, Debaromyces, Filobasidiella, Hanseniaspora, Klavispora, Lodderomyces, Pichia, Saccharomycodes, Trichosporon, and Zygosaccharomyces. Enterobacteriaceae were detected in two sous samples and were identified as Enterobacter sakazakii and Erwinia sp., and in two tamarind samples and were identified as Citrobacter freundii and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Salmonella was detected in one sous and one tamarind sample. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was detected in only one sous sample.

Can a tamarind drink be used daily while taking supplements of CoQ10 and lipoic acid?
  I don't see why not.

Q. What is the trade name for the tamarind eye drops and where could I obtain them? I live in South Africa, go often to France and will be in the USA in September this year.
   A. We just came across this research in May of 2007 and we don't know if an actual tamarind eye drop product has already been formulated for sale.

Q. Thank you for the informative article of tamarind on your website. I have just started eating rolled tamarind (like sweets) which I bought in India (I think it is just tamarind mixed with sugar and rolled) but I realize I end up with a cough. Is this normal? I just love these sweets and since I have cholesterol it is also helpful for me.
   A. We have not heard of a cough associated with tamarind. Perhaps the product has other substances in it, or perhaps you may have an allergy, or it may have been coincidence.

Q. There is a company that sells a spagyric tincture of tamarind herb. What are your thoughts on tamarind as a detox for too much fluoride.
   A. I have seen one human study in children regarding the use of tamarind herb which was able to reduce fluoride levels from bone. I am not aware of studies in adults given tamarind supplements and its effect on fluoride metabolism. Sometimes the results in children can be different than results in adults. At least two or more studies are needed to give us a better understanding of the relationship of tamarind ingestion and body fluoride levels.