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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




CASHEW
ANACARDIACEAE
aka Cashew apple, Cashew Nut
(Anacardium occidentale syn Cassavium pomiferum)
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!THE OIL TAKEN FROM THE RAW SHELL IS CAUSTIC AND A SEVERE SKIN IRRITANT!
(can be likened to poison ivy)
!THE OIL MUST NOT BE INHALED!

A spreading, evergreen tree to 40 feet with acrid, milky sap and native to Tropical America, but has been widely naturalized throughout the world's tropical zones. LEAVES are oblong-ovate; yellowish-pink FLOWERS appear on terminal panicles; the FRUIT has a RECEPTACLE (cashew apple) which is 2 to 3 inches long and bright red or yellow; the SEED (nut) is curved and about 1 inch long. Cultivated as a crop in India.

PROPAGATION: By HARDWOOD CUTTINGS at the end of the growing season.
NEEDS: Used for erosion control and grown as a crop in well-draining, sandy soil in sun. Requires steady moisture during the growing season. Hardy to 64ºF.
PART USED: Leaves, Bark, Fruit, Seed, Oil (see caution above)
HARVEST: Leaves as needed, then dried; Bark as needed, used fresh or dried; Fruits when ripe, then made into fresh pulp and juice; Oil is extracted from the shells which are removed from the nuts; Nuts when ripe, used fresh or roasted.

USES

MEDICINAL:
The leaves have been used as a febrifuge; the bark to reduce blood sugar levels; the fruit as a diuretic; the seeds (nuts) as a nutritive; the oil of the raw shell as an antibacterial.
The bark and extracts from the leaf, as well as the juice from the fruit have been used to treat diarrhea.
An extract from the bark has been used to treat hypoglycemia.
Juice of the fruit has been used for flu, uterine problems, dropsy.
An infusion of the leaf and the bark has been used for malaria in western regions of Africa as well as for toothache and sore gums.
An extract has been used for leprosy, elephantiasis, cancerous ulcers, ringworm, warts, corns (fresh shell extract).
Natives of the Amazonian regions have used an extract of the bark as a contraceptive.
Cashew nut milk has been used in special diets to replace dairy milk.

CULINARY:
Beverages and jams are made from the juice of the fruit.
The receptacle is the edible Cashew Apple from which candies and beverages are made.
The nuts are roasted and eaten.
Raw nuts are ground to make a nut milk.
The expressed juice of the fruit has been used to make wine and a distilled alcoholic beverage.

INSECT:
The oil of the shell has been used to treat paper and wood to deter insect damage.
A gum from the tree was once used by bookbinders to wash books to deter damaging insects.
In India, the oil was once rubbed into floors to keep termites away.

OTHER:
The oil of the shell has been used in the making of synthetic rubber and brake linings.
The oil was once used as a face peel.
The black juice of the fruit and the milky sap of the tree has been used for ink.
The milky juice from the flower stems dries hard and black and was once used for varnish.





© 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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