Tamarindus, B.P. Tamarinds.
Tamarinds, West Indian tamarinds, are the fruits of Tamarindus indica, Linn. (N.O. Leguminosae), freed from the brittle, outer part of the pericarp and preserved with sugar. They are also official in the U.S.P. The tamarind tree is indigenous to Africa, but is cultivated throughout India and the West Indies. The fruit is a legume from 2 to 8 inches long, and consists of a rough, brownish epicarp, pulpy mesocarp, through which stout branching fibres pass, and several large, brown, hard seeds, each enclosed in a tough, leathery endocarp. The fruits, freed from their epicarps, are preserved by pouring hot syrup on them, and then form the official drug, which is usually imported from the West Indies and known as West Indian tamarinds. It forms a reddish-brown, moist, sugary mass, in which the fibres and the seeds enclosed in the endocarp are conspicuous. Tamarind pulp is largely exported from India (East Indian tamarinds); this variety consists of the shelled legumes pressed into a firm, black mass, without the addition of either sugar or salt as a preservative,
Constituents.—The pulp of the fruit has a strongly acid taste and contains chiefly tartaric acid (about 10 per cent.), acid potassium tartrate (about 8 per cent.), and invert sugar (from 25 to 40 per cent.). The total acidity varies from 11 to 16 per cent. The official tamarinds contain, in addition to the constituents of the fruits, the cane sugar which has been used in the form of syrup to preserve the pulp.
Action and Uses.—Tamarinds are mildly laxative; when infused with water an agreeable drink is formed for use in fevers. Tamarind whey is prepared by mixing with milk (1 in 40). Tamarind pastilles are a slightly acid, emollient preparation for the throat.