Commonly known as the Indian blackberry, jamun trees are found all over India whenever mangoes are grown. The fruit is a juicy berry with a single stone. It is a very deep purple on the outside and violet inside; has a sweet-sour pulp and greenish yellow seed.
The nutritive value per 100 gm edible portion of jamun is 83.7 per cent moisture, 0.7 per cent protein, 0.3 per cent fat, 0.4 per cent minerals, 0.9 per cent fibre, 14.0 per cent carbohydrates, 15 mg calcium, 15 mg phosphorus, 1.2 mg iron, 18 mg vitamin C and a small amount of vitamin B complex. The calorific value is 62.
The jamun is medicinally extremely valuable and has many uses. All parts of the tree – bark, seeds and fruits which are rich in protein, carbohydrates and calcium – have some medicinal use or the other. The pulp of the fruit is dried and powdered. This is then used as a digestive aid. Many ayurvedic churan and herbal digestives contain this powder.
Jamun has been traditionally used as a cure for diabetes because of its effect on the pancreas. Particularly the seeds, when dried and powdered contain a glucose called ‘jamboline’ which has the power to check the pathological conversion of starch into sugar. It is believed to reduce the quantity of sugar in urine and allay unquenchable thirst – a symptom of diabetes. Drink an equal amount of jamun and mango juice if you’re diabetic.
Ripe jamun juice is effective in curing diarrhoea. You can have it mixed with curd. For children, try it mixed with goat’s milk or drink Jamun juice mixed with sugar candy (misri). The powdered seeds are also useful in treating diseases related to the kidney – a 1/2 teaspoon should be taken every morning and evening.
The jamun is a natural diuretic. Roughly crush the bark of the tree and boil in water. Strain and gargle with the water to relieve a sore throat. This can also be used as mouthwash in case of bad breath. In cases of poisonous insect bites, the juices of the jamun leaves are given. The leaves can also be used as a poultice on the bite.
For obstinate boils use the leaves for dry fomentation. Sore eyes can be treated the same way. The juice of the leaves is also used for painful gums.
Jamuns are extremely effective in treating painful and bleeding piles. The fruit should be eaten with salt throughout the season. This will alleviate the pain and the disease to a great extent.
Mention is made of the jamun in Charak Samhita – our ancient treatise on medicine. Sage Charaka used this fruit in the treatment for an enlarged liver. There are certain natural acids in the fruit that secrete digestive enzymes and stimulate the proper functioning of the liver. Vinegar is also made from the unripe acidic fruit which has carminative properties – that is, it expels gas, flatulence and cures stomach aches.
The fruit is also used to cure rheumatism. The root of the Jamun tree is boiled in water. The hot water is then applied to painful joints to provide relief and alleviate pain.