Semecarpus anacardium, commonly known as marking nut tree, phobi nut tree and varnish tree, is a native of India, found in the outer Himalayas to Coromandel Coast. It is closely related to the cashew.
Semecarpus anacardium was called "marking nut" by Europeans because it was used by washermen to mark cloth and clothing before washing, as it imparted a water insoluble mark to the cloth.
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It is a deciduous tree. Like the closely related cashew, the fruit is composed of two parts, a reddish-orange accessory fruit and a black drupe that grows at the end. The nut is about 25 millimetres (1 in) long, ovoid and smooth lustrous black. The accessory fruit is edible and sweet when ripe, but the black fruit is toxic and produces a severe allergic reaction if it is consumed or its resin comes in contact with the skin. The seed inside the black fruit, known as godambi (गोडम्बी), is edible when properly prepared.
Uses in Ayurvedic medicine
It is used for improving sexual power and increasing sperm count, curing diseases related to digestive system, balancing Kapha dosha (कफ दोष) in body. It is said that, no Kapha dosha remains after it is treated with this fruit. The red-orange part is collected and dried in sun. It is consumed after it is semi-dried. If consumed in very large quantity, it is said to induce abortion. In moderation, it is however considered good for female reproductive system.
Various parts of these plants are commonly used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for the treatment of various ailments, mainly alimentary tract and certain dermatological conditions. Reports have shown noticeable impact on illnesses related to the heart, blood pressure, respiration, cancer and neurological disorders [8-10] The seed inside the samecarpus anacardium is known as "Godambi" in Hindi and is widely used in India as dry fruit. Godambi is eaten by Indians in winter and was commonly used as a method of birth control for women.
Apart from its medicinal properties it is also poisonous without any purification. And the oil from its seeds can give blisters and painful wounds.
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