Benefits of the Cashew Tree

A fruiting cashew tree.

A new study of cashew seed extract suggests that it may be effective in combating diabetes, one of the health scourges of the modern world with over 200 million sufferers.

Focusing on whether this product has a beneficial effect on cells that produce insulin within the human body, the study, by the Universities of Montreal in Canada and Yaoundé in Cameroon, indicates that cashew seed extract contains compounds that stimulate blood sugar absorption.

Indigenous to the Atlantic forests of Northern Brazil and the Guyanas, these days cashew can be found growing in gardens throughout the Amazon and as far a field as India, where the tree fruit is fermented to make an alcoholic drink. More than one African country also makes strong liquor from cashew fruits, similar in strength and taste to sugar cane alcohol.

The wide range of benefits provided to us by cashew tree has been known to indigenous South Americans for a very long time. The Patamona people of Guyana, for instance, use scraped cashew tree bark to combat diarrhoea, the seeds (cashew nuts) are ground into a powder to heal snake bites and the nut oil is considered effective both as an antifungal as well as useful for fixing cracked heels. Processing cashew nuts also produces a very acidic by-product (anarcardic acid) which can sooth and heal mouth abscesses by attacking specific bacteria.

Large, old cashew tree

A large, ancient cashew tree.

Cashew nuts.
Cashew nuts.