Terminalia catappa or tropical almond tree are generally large trees
They grow in warm regions with deciduous leaves, and discrete earflowers.
The fruits are drupes more or less fleshy whose almond is edible.
Terminalia catappa (tropical or indian or beach almond tree) native to the Indo-Malayan region is widespread in tropico-equatorial regions.
Terminalia chebula (black myrobolan) native to India and neighboring areas to southern China is an important tree in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine.
Other native species are found in all tropical and subtropical regions, there are about 200 species of Terminalia.
TERMINALIA CATAPPA is a tropical tree that adapts to a lot of ground and grows very well along beaches unlike many other trees.
Its appearance is particular, the branches are spread horizontally and provide a large shade area appreciated in warm regions.
It is frequently planted in public squares, market areas or playgrounds.
Large leaves are deciduous and become yellow-orange before falling.
The fruit contains a small edible almond (much smaller that the common almond).
The initially green fruit turns brown when it is dry, the almond is surrounded by cork-like fabrics that allow it to float and thus disperse along the shorelines or river banks.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
TERMINALIA CATAPPA ALMOND
The edible almond contains 40 to 50% fat and proteins, but it takes a lot of patience and skill to fill your hand with these small almonds.
It is nonetheless a source of "wild" vegetable lipids and almost free, except the "work" of extraction!
TERMINALIA CATAPPA TANNINS
All parts of the tropical almond tree contain tannins, especially the bark, but also the soft parts of the fruit and the leaves.
The leaf is also rich in flavonoids.
Recent pharmacological studies have shown that the aqueous extract of tropical almond tree leaves has interesting properties in vitro:
- neutralizing free radicals, thus a protective action and anti-inflammatory properties,
- protection of liver cells (hepatocytes) by decreasing the lipid peroxidation (action on enzymatic chains), the effectiveness is close to that of rosemary considered a reference plant.
It remains to control this effect in vivo and define a dosage.
The tannins are very astringent (drying mucous membranes, wounds ), anti-bacterial and antifungal.
It is usual to see people in the tropics regions, young or old, who while discussing crush between two stones the fruits of beach almond, the essential fatty acid intake is interesting in diets often predominantly carbohydrate.
The bark of the tree is a source of tannin for domestic use (skin, leather, traditional sailing boat sails).
The tropical almond tree has also MEDICINAL USES.
The BARK in decoction gives a very astringent and antiseptic liquid (like some parts of the coconut tree or guava tree) : ex, a piece of bark, whose external part has been cleaned, of 1 dm2 (10 cm by 10 cm) in 1 to 2 liters of water, boil until a red-orange color is obtained.
It can be used TOPICALLY :
- to dry out oozing wounds (burns, tropical ulcers, mycosis of folds,
- to clean soiled wounds (in the absence of other antiseptics),
- in mouthwash (mouth ulcer, mouth sore),
- by diluting a little this decoction, vaginal injection (leucorrhea),
- in a siege bath (hemorrhoids, genital leaning, vulvovaginitis).
ORALLY, to calm diarrhea and vomiting without fever, for example in case of ciguatera (intoxication by the flesh of the coral fish): 1/2 glass to 1 glass 1 to 3 times a day according to the intensity of the symptoms.
Some observations mention the risk for women of an increase in the volume of menstruation.
The LEAVES are:
- emollients: the juice of slightly heated leaves can be applied to boils or abscesses to ripen them,
- and astringent: yellowened leaf juice diluted in gargle water in case of angina, tonsillitis.
In Indian medicine (Ayurvedic) Terminalia are frequently used in complex plant preparations.
AQUARIUM and AQUACULTURE
Captive fish often develop infections or disorders of scales and teguments that make them fragile and oblige farmers to use antibiotics.
Tropical fish farmers (especially in Asia) have tried to recreate natural conditions by adding plant debris to aquaculture tanks.
The addition of dry leaves of Terminalia cattapa seems very effective, they gradually release their content in phenolic substances (tannins, flavonoids, acid-phenols) which cleanses the water, interacts doubtless on the mucus of the epidermis of the fish and improves their resistance to infections.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
The black myrobolan fruit contains many phenolic components (tannins, phenolic acids (chebulic acid), flavonoids) and triterpenes that are specific to it (chébulosides).
The presence of laxative anthraquinones (like in senna or rhubarb) is recognized.
TERMINALIA CHEBULA BLACK MYROBOLAN MEDICINAL PLANT
The fruit of black myrololan has been used for thousands of years in Indian medicine (Ayurvedic).
The uses vary according to the geographical origin of the tree (cultivar or variety) and the stage of maturity of the fruit.
It is used mainly as depurative and astringent :
- to facilitate the intestinal transit,
- to facilitate digestion,
- to "cleanse" the body,
- but also in case of diarrhea.
It is a form of traditional panacea in India, Nepal and Tibet advocated in the majority of non-acute physical disorders (from diabetes to asthma, from gastric ulcer to urinary disorders, cardiovascular disorders related to aging to pain joint ...).
Some indications seem contradictory (laxative and against diarrhea) but the content in astringent tannin varies according to the maturity of the fruit and allows this double indication in the manner of rhubarb.
This Asian panacea is the object of modern studies and evaluations:
- treatment of type 2 diabetes,
- regulation of cholesterol and blood lipids,
- obesity and its complications,
- cancer prevention,
- protection of the liver and treatment of hepatitis.
Most of the traditional medicinal properties of Terminalia chebula are related to the content of phenolic anti-oxidant substances, which trap free radicals, interrupt enzymatic cascade reactions, thus limiting inflammatory reactions and slowing pathological processes.
Black myrobolan fruit can be used, for example:
- green as a condiment, in salad or infusion-decoction,
- green and dried in food (condiment powder),
- more tipe as an astringent, anti-inflammatory or chewed to clean gum and teeth.
Black myrobolan is one of the components of the Ayurvedic preparation TRIPHALA.
TRIPHALA is a preparation of Ayurvedic medicine that combines equal parts of the fruit of two Terminalia and Phyllantus: Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica and Phyllantus emblemica (sometimes improperly called Emblemica officinalis).
This preparation now found in Europe is a great classic of Indian medicine.
It is mainly used as a mild laxative and depurative to rebalance the digestive function so important for health and physical well-being.
Since a few years, triphala has also been advocated to fight against the "diseases" of modern civilization:
- overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes,
- insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome,
- abnormalities of blood lipids and hypercholesterolemia,
- and even prevention of cancers including prostate.
Triphala comes in the form of powder (for infusion) or tablets or capsules (easier to absorb).
The dosage depends on the desired effect: increasing the dose is a real purge, at moderate dose it is a metabolic rebalancing.
Because of its high content of tannin and assimilable phenolic compounds, it is not recommended for pregnant women especially during the first months of pregnancy as well as people too lean, malnourished or in case of significant diarrhea of ??infectious or indeterminate origin.
People with diabetes should integrate triphala gradually into their treatment if diabetes is already stabilized, because in this case the addition of triphala can lower a little more blood sugar (risk of hypoglycemia).
Like all preparations of Asian origin for export and with sale by internet, there is the risk of falsified product.
That said triphala is a very popular medicine and used throughout modern India.
CULTIVATION OF TERMINALIA CATAPPA AND TERMINALIA CHEBULAThese two trees spread and grow easily, from their well-walled and dry fruit, they are part of the tropical trees that can be encouraged to plant in the same way as neem, moringa, tamanu, jujubier, breadfruit tree, for example.
TROPICAL ALMOND TREES
Terminallia catappa, almond tree is planted, in the tropics, in public squares, meeting places.
They grow spontaneously on the sandy coastline.
Its fruit contains a small edible almond and the whole tree contains a lot of tannin.
Black myrobolan or haritaki is a majestic tree from India whose fruits are widely used in Ayuvedic medicine and in industrial tanning. It is a panacea that is part of the ayurvedic drug triphala, traditional depurative medicine of Indian medicine.
Copyright 2019: Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel