Balimbing

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AVERRHOA CARAMBOLA also known as BALIMBING

Balimbing occurs in a cultivated or semicultivated state throughout the Philippines. It was introduced from tropical America and is now pantropic in cultivation.

This plant is a small tree growing to a height of 6 meters or less. The leaves are pinnate, about 15 centimeters long. The leaflets are quite smooth. There are usually about 5 pairs of leaflets which are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, the upper ones about 5 centimeters long and the lower ones smaller. The panicles are small, axillary and somewhat bell-shaped 5 to 6 millimeters long. The calyx is reddish purple. The petals are purple to rather bright purple, often margined with white. The fruit is fleshy green or greenish yellow, and usually about 6 centimeters long, with 5 longitudinal, sharp, angular lobes. The seeds are arillate.

The fruit is fleshy, acid, green or greenish-yellow, and edible. It is eaten with or without salt rather extensively by Filipinos and the juice is often used for seasoning. As in kamias the juice is used in washing clothes and removes spot or stains. The fruit is made also into pickles and sweets. Burkill says that the flowers are used in salads in Java.

Analyses of the fruit show it to be a fairly good source of iron but deficient in calcium. Hermano and Sepulveda report that it is a fair source of vitamin B. Read adds the fruit also contains vitamin C. According to Correa, the fruit contains oxalic acid, and potassium oxalate. Sanyal and Ghose say that the seeds contain an alkaloid, harmaline (C13H14N2O).

According to Kamel, a decoction of the leaves is good for aphtha and angina. Crevost and Petelot say that in Tonkin the flowers are considered to have a vermifuge action. Burkill and Haniff record the crushed leaves or shoots are used by the Malays as an application for chicken-pox, ringworm, and headache. A decoction of the leaves and fruit is given to arrest vomiting. Menaut states that the leaves are applied in fevers.

Regnault reports that the Chinese and Annamites use the flowers against cutaneous affections.

The fruit is laxative, a refrigerant, and an antiscorbutic excites appetite, is a febrifuge and antidysenteric, and is a sialogogue and antiphlogistic. It is good remedy for bleeding piles, particularly internal piles. The fruit is also given in fevers. The fruit will also benefit haematemesis, melaema, and some other forms of haemorrhage. It is given, in syrup, as a cooling drink in fevers in the Philippines. Safford states that eating the uncooked fruit causes hiccoughs. Regnault states that the Chinese and Annamites employ the fruit in the form of eye-salve against affections of the eyes.

Sanyal and Ghose report that the drug acts an as a stimulant to the reproductive organs in both male and the female. In the female it also increases the fluid of milk and the menstrual fluid. In large doses, it acts as an emmenagogue like ergot, and produces abortion. It is generally administered in the form of an infusion or decoction of the crushed seeds through it may also be given in the form of a tincture. Like Cannabis indica, it has slight intoxicating properties.

According to Dey, the seeds may be regarded as a narcotic, anodyne, emetic, and emmenagogue. The powder, in doses of ? to 3 drams, is a good anodyne in asthma, colic, and jaundice, and the watery infusion id similarly useful.


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