Friday, May 6, 2011

Sampalok - Halamang Gamot / Herbal Medicine

Scientific name: Tamarindus Indica L.
English: Tamarind
Tagalog: Sampalok
Sampalok is a fruit tree found throughout the Philippines, and is common on Mt. Banahaw. Sampalok fruit is used as a laxative, for bilious vomiting, and against cholera. It is also a refrigerant, and used to reduce fevers. The bark is astringent and tonic, and used for asthma and amenorrhoea. The leaves are used to destroy worms in children, and are useful for jaundice.
  • A large tree 12 to 20 m high, nearly glabrous.
  • Leaves: even-pinnate, 6 to 10 cm long; leaflets 20 to 40, rather close, oblong, obtuse, 1 to 2 cm long.
  • Flowers: calyx about 1 cm long. Petals yellowish with pink stripes, obovate-oblong, less than 1 cm long. Calyx tube turbinate, the teeth lanceolate, much imbricated, the lower 2 connate. Only the 3 upper petals developed, the 2 lateral ones ovate, the upper hooded, the 2 lower ones reduced to scales. Stamens monadelphous, only 3 developed, ovary many-ovuled. Racemes mostly axillary, sometimes panicled, 5 to 10 cm long.
  • Fruits: pods oblong, thickened, 6 to 15 cm long, 2 to 3 cm wide, slightly compressed, the exocarp thin, crustaceous, the mesocarp pulpy acid and edible.
Widely distributed in the Philippines, commonly cultivated, flowering from April to October.
Propagation by seed, soaked in water for 8 to 9 days before transplanting.

Astringent, tonic, digestive, antiasthmatic, febrifuge, carminative, antiscorbutic, antibilious.

Fixed oil, 15-20%; citric, acetic, butyric and oxalic acids; tannin; pectin.
Various studies have shown high amounts of crude protein and essential amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.

Parts used and preparation
· Leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark.
· Gather fruits from March to June when fruits ripen.
· Remove rind, dry under the sun.


  • Fever: Macerate pulp or ripe fruit in water, sweeten to taste, and drink.
  • Laxative: Eat pulp of ripe fruit liberally and follow with plenty of water.
  • Asthma: Bark; chop and boil a foot-long piece of bark in 3 glasses of water for 10 minutes. Adults, 1 cup after every meal and at bedtime; children, 1/2 cup 4 times daily; Babies, 2 tbsps 4 times daily.
  • Aromatic bath: Use decoction of leaves, especially after childbirth and during convalescence.
  • Decoction of ash: For colic, indigestion; as gargle for sore throats, aphthous sores.
  • Ash preparation: Fry the bark with common salk in an earthen pot until it turns to white ash; heaping teaspoon of the ash to half-cup of boiling water; cool and drink.
  • Poultice or lotion from bark applied to ulcers, boils, and rashes.
  • Poultice of leaves to inflammatory swellings of ankles and joints.
  • Decoction of leaves as postpartum tea; also used as a wash for indolent ulcers.
  • Flowers for conjunctival inflammation. Internally, as decoction or infusion, for bleeding piles (4 glasses of tea daily).
  • Pulp surrounding the seeds is cooling and laxative.
Culinary / Nutrition
  • As a souring condiment.
  • Source of vitamins B and C.
  • Sweetened, candied.
  • Young leaves and very young seedlings and flowers are cooked and eaten as greens and used in curries in India. In Zimbabwe, leaves used in soups, flowers in salads.
  • Dyeing / Mordant: Leaves and flowers useful as mordants in dyeing. Yellow dye from the leaves colors wool red and turns indigo-dyed silk to green. Leaves used in bleaching buri palm to prepare it for hat making.
  • Fodder: Leaves eaten by cattle and goats. Also, a fodder for silkworms.
  • Nectar: Flowers are considered a good source of nectar for honeybees in South India.
  • Seeds: Powder from tamarind kernels used in the Indian textile industry in several processes - sizing, finishing cotton, jute and spun viscose.
  • Wood: Highly prized for furniture, panelling, wheels, axles, mill gears, planking, mallets, handles, walking sticks, etc.
  • Oil: Seeds yield an amber oil, useful as illuminant and a varnish.
• Antibacterial: (1) Aqueous pulp extract study showed antibacterial activity against all strains tested.Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, alkaloids and glycosides. Study confims the traditional use of the plant for the treatment of infections. (2) Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of extracts from T. indica ripe fruit and Piper nigrum seed against S aureus, E coli, P aeruginosa and Salmonella typhi. The ethanol extract of T indica showed higher activity against all test bacteria than that from P nigrum.
• Hepatoprotective: Study showed a significant hepatoprotective effect with the aqueous extracts of tamarind leaves, fruits and unroasted seeds on paracetamol intoxicated rats.
• Anti-venom activity: Extracts of tamarind inhibited the major hydrolytic enzymes of early envenomation (local tissue damage, inflammation, hypotension). It also neutralized indirect hemolysis. It presents an alternative to serum therapy.
• Aspirin Bioavailability: Study showed Tamarindus indica fruit extract significantly increased the bioavailability of aspirin.
• Cosmetic Potential: Seed husk extract with polyphenolic components (Polyant-T) was tested for antioxidant efficiency and provides a potential use for color cosmetics and sunscreens.
• Hypolipidemic: Study showed a beneficial effect on the lipid profile with a significant lowering of the total and LDL-chol without affecting the HDL level. There was also a reduction of diastolic blood pressure.
• Chemical Constituents: Study revealed the presence of 21 saturated (67.5%) and 11 unsaturated fatty acids (30.15%). The results showed great variation in fatty acids, elemental composition and total protein attributed to environmental and ecological factors.
• Anti-Diabetic: (1) Study of aqueous extract of Tamarindus indica seeds against STZ-induced damages in pancreatic islands showed AETIS partially restores pancreatic beta cells and repairs STZ-induced damages in rats. (2) Study of aqueous extract of seed showed potent antidiabetogenic activity that reduces blood sugar in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rat. (3) Study showed extracts of both fruit and seeds significantly lowered blood glucose levels in mice compared to control.
• Anti-Melioidosis: Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a life-threatening infection common among paddy cultivators in Southeast Asian countries. Study showed the methanolic extracts of T indica has anti-B. pseudomallei inhibitory potentials under invitro conditions.
• Spasmolytic: Study of the methanolic extract of fruits of Tamarindus indica on rabbit's jejunum preparations showed relaxing effects probably through calcium channel blockade.
• Genotoxicity Study: Study of extract made with T. indica was devoid of clastogenic and genotoxic activities in cells of rodents, when administered orally at three acute doses.
• Antioxidant: Study of T indica seed coat extract was found to possess strong antioxidant activity attributed to free radical scavenging activity.
• Analgesic: Study showed the aqueous extract of T indica possesses potential antinociceptive activity at both peripheral and central levels, mediated via an opiodergic mechanism.
• Fluoride Toxicity Amelioration: Fluoride is a cumulative poison, toxicity leading to bony and dental lesions developing over a period of time. Study showed the extracts of both T. indic a and M. oleifera have some potential to mitigate fluoride toxicity. Changes in plasma biochemistry suggested lesxz hepatic and renal damages in animals receiving plant extracts along with fluorinated water compared to those receiving fluorinated water alone.


Cultivated for fruiting and culinary use.
Sweetened and candied.