AMLIKA (Tamarindus indica)
Amlika plant is the most popular one, for the sour (amla) taste of its fruits aswell as the leaves. It has numerous synonyms in Ayurvedic texts like cinca, tintidika, amlika, cukra, yamadutika, caritra, gurupatra, kapipriya, sukta, dantasatha etc. The amlika fruits – the pods, are commonly used in cooking throughout India, for its sour taste. For such purpose, one year old pods are recommended for the use. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and has been freely used all over India since centuries. It is categorized in amla varga- the group of sour herbs.
Amlika grows throughout India. It is a large tree, attaining 60 to 80 feet in height and wide- spreading head of foliage. The trunk with a dark rough bark has deep cracks and youngest twigs are smooth or slightly pubescent. The leaves alternate, with small, linear, very caduceus stipules, 10-15 cm long. The leaflets in about 8-16 pairs. Opposite, one inch long, oblong in shapeand sessile. The flowers are rather small, stalked, arranged in lax.few flowered racemes. Thefruits pendulous, pod-shaped, slightly compressed, 3-8 inches long, usually somewhat curved. They are nearly smooth, pale chocolate brown, pericarp rather thin, easily broken, and indehiscent. A firm soft pulp surrounding the seed cavities, with three tough, woody, branching fibrous cords, from base towards the apex. The seeds 2 to 8, according to the length of the fruit, are enveloped by a tough leathery membrane.
The botanical name of amlika is Tamarindus indica and it belongs to family Casealpiniacea. The pulp of the pods contains tartaric acid 5%, citric acid 4%, malic acid and aacetic acid, tartaric of potassium 8%, invert sugar 24-40%, gum and pectin. The seeds testa contains a fixed oil and insoluble matter. The seeds contain albuminoids, fat, carbohydrate 63.22%, fibre and ash containing phosphorus and nitrogen. The fruit contains traces of oxalic acid. Hordening is isolated from the leaves, bark and flowers. A polysaccharide isolated from seeds, contains glucose, galactose, xylose and arabinose in ratio 9:4:5:1.
Amlika is sour (the ripened fruit sour and sweet) in taste (rasa), sourin the post digestive effect (vipaka) and has hot potency (virya). The raw fruit alleviates the vata dosa. The leaves and flowers of amlika are astringent, sweet and sour in test, sour in the post digestive effect and have semi-hot potency. They alleviate vata and pitta dosas. Amlika possesses heavy (guru) and dry (roksa) attributes. On ripening it alleviates all the three dosas. It is an appetizer and digestant in the properties.
Amlika is used both, internally as well as externally, The fruits, leaves, seeds , root bark, flowers and ksara of amlika are used for the medicinal purpose, Externally, the paste of its leaves and seeds works well to reduce the swellings of inflamed parts. In conjunctivitis, the pulp of its flowers is used externally with benefit.
Internally, amlika is useful in various diseases to treat with. The raw fruits aggravate, whereas, the ripened fruits alleviate the pitta dosa. The combination of amlika, bhallataka and rock salt in a form ofa tablet is effective in cholera. Thepods are keen stimulant for appetite and digestion. The squash of its ripened pods is benevolent in the heart diseases. The ksara preparation of amlika is useful as a potent appetizer and effective in alleviating the abdominal pain. As a household remedy, the powder of its skin of the pod is recommended with hot water to alleviate the abdominal pains. In diarrhea, the leaves mashed with rice water are given with sesame oil. The powder of pod’s skin, given with the curds, curbs dysentery.
The soup of amlika prepared with cumin seed, asafetida, sugar and rock salt is an effectivedigestant. The amlika sarbata is beneficial as an antidote of alcohol. The jam prepared of its flowers and rock candy ameliorates the vitiated pitta. Alkalis of amlika and as vattha (Ficus religiosa) are used in Ayurvedic pharmacy, in the process of purification oflead (naga), as a preoperative, in its bhasma procedure
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Cinca ksara,
- Cinca panaka,
- Sankha vati etc.