The tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is a handsome tree indigenous to tropical Africa. It is also found throughout India, Java, and Yemen, and has been naturalized in South America as well as in adjacent tropical islands, such as the West Indies; also in Mexico, we having gathered it in La Paz, Lower California. The ancient Greeks and Romans seem not to have known the tamarind. If known to the Egyptians, it was neglected by their authors, although Sir Gardner Wilkinson (688) states that tamarind stones were found in the tombs of Thebes, a statement not confirmed, however, by specimens of the contents of tombs in the British Museum. The ancient Sanskrit writings mention tamarind, and the fruit was known to the Arabians as Indian dates, under which name it was mentioned by early authors, such as Avicenna (30) and others, including Alhervi (2), of Persia. Credit is given the Arabians for the distribution of the drug and its uses, it passing from them, with other Eastern products, into Europe through the famous school of Salernum. Tamarinds have been used in their native countries in the making of a cooling drink much relished by persons afflicted with fevers, in which direction they have been also employed in medicine throughout the civilized world. It would be better if the modern physician were more familiar with the grateful home-made drink that tamarinds afford the parched sufferer from fever.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.