English: Tamarind fruits

Chinese: 酸角

Parts used: Ripe fruits

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Organ affinity: Stomach Heart

Scientific name: Tamarindus indica

Other names: Tamarindo, Tamón, Asam jawa, Asam, Sukaer, Sampalok, Sampaloc, Sambag

Use of Suan Jiao (tamarind fruits) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect and dry, preferably under the sun

Dosage: 15 to 30 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Summer Heat and relieves Stomach food Stagnation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Suan Jiao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Heatstroke Loss of appetite Infantile malnutrition Morning sickness Constipation

Key TCM concepts behind Suan Jiao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Suan Jiao belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Suan Jiao is Cool in nature. This means that Suan Jiao tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Suan Jiao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Suan Jiao also tastes Sour and Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sour ingredients like Suan Jiao helps with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Suan Jiao is thought to target the Stomach and the Heart. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality.