Drug-resistant bacteria contribute to the most worrisome health problems of the modern world. With the advent of antibiotics, most of the people believed that bacterial infections would no more be a worry. However, they did not know the other side of the picture. The same drugs turned out to be the reason for the resistant bacterial strains that plague us today.
Researchers have been continuously putting efforts into developing natural antibacterial treatments employing herbs and plant extracts. Fortunately, they have successfully discovered many customary remedies that have great potential in treating bacterial infections.
Most of the natural products are rich in phytochemicals like tannins, terpenoids, alkaloids, and flavonoids. All of these compounds possess potent antibacterial activities. Among these compounds, phenolic compounds interact strongly with the cellular proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. This is the reason many researchers look forward to plants as remedies against drug-resistant bacterial strains.
Researchers from Tiradentes University and the Federal University of Sergipe in Brazil have come up with a breakthrough treatment for diseases caused by drug-resistant bacteria i.e. tamarind (Tamarindus indica).
Tamarind is a tropical fruit commonly used for culinary purposes. It is both sweet and sour in taste. Many traditional medicine practitioners use tamarind beverages for treating diarrhea, constipation, fever, and peptic ulcers. In addition, the bark and leaves of the plant are used to improve the healing of the wounds.
Research attributes ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, polyphenols, and flavonoids, present in tamarind, for its different biological activities.
In this respective study, the researchers examined the antibacterial activity of hydroethanolic leaf extracts of tamarind. The study was published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research. Another medicinal plant cassava (Manihot esculenta) was also studied.
The researchers tested the extracts against four bacterial strains,
- A clinical isolate of P. aeruginosa
- Three drug-resistant S. aureus strains
The results revealed that tamarind notably inhibited the proliferation of all bacterial strains. Meanwhile, cassava extract was found effective against P. aeruginosa only.
Moreover, the authors of the study determined the antioxidant activities of the phenolic content. They observed that tamarind, in comparison to cassava, had higher total phenolic content and consequently exhibited high antioxidant activity. The antibacterial activity of tamarind includes reducing protein expression and increasing cell membrane permeability. However, these have not been confirmed.
Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that tamarind and cassava have potent antibacterial activity. However, only the former has potential use in treating drug-resistant S. aureus infections. From this, it can be determined that tamarind has potential use in treating drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Other benefits of tamarind
Tamarind is a useful addition to the diet. It is a very nutritious fruit, rich in nutrients including,
- Vitamins C, A, B and K
Tamarind is a good source of dietary fibers. Thus, it promotes healthy digestion. The nutrients found in tamarind work to improve muscle movement of the intestinal tract and enhance the production of bile. Eating tamarind effectively reduces blood pressure and levels of cholesterol. In addition, tamarind enhances the levels of iron, improves blood circulation, and supports healthy functioning of the heart and other organs. Tamarind promotes healthy weight loss as well. It contains hydroxycitric acid which inhibits enzymes involved in fat storage. Moreover, tamarind also increases the production of serotonin which reduces appetite and untimely food cravings.