Kokum whose botanical name is Garcinia indica is quite popular in India. Though it is mostly used as a spice to flavor curries, it has wonderful health benefits and medicinal uses. Kokum belongs to the mangosteen family and there are more than 200 species. In India, they are mostly found in western ghats and Andaman Islands. It is called Wild Mangosteen In English, Kokum in Hindi, Punarpuli in Kannada, Bhirand in Konkani, Kokum in Marathi, Kokam in Gujarati, Tintali in Oriya, Murgal in Tamil, Chinta in Telugu and Kattampi in Malayalam. The fruits are red in color and they are used to make the famous kokum sharbat (kokum juice) which is very popular in India as a body coolant drink. The ripe fruits are more commonly available in North India and we get only the dried fruits in South India. The outer covering of the fruit is dried, packaged and sold and when it is dried it turns black. It has a sour taste and sweet aroma and is usually added to curries for sourness. Traditionally, kokum is used as a body coolant, for treating heat strokes and as an appetizer to improve digestion. Kokum is generally confused with kudampuli (Garcinia Cambogia), both are different and you can read about kudampuli here. Chemical Constituents: The main chemical constituents found in kokum are flavonoids, citric acid, hydroxycitric acid, garcinol and anthocayanins. Kokum Medicinal Uses: 1. Anti Depressant Properties: Kokum extract has a positive effect on our nervous system and helps reduce anxiety and depression. Given our stressful lives, anxiety and depression are getting more common and natural ingredients like kokum helps treat it safely. You can read the study that proves it here. 2. Antioxidant Properties: Kokum sherbet has been known to improve immunity and prevent diseases that is because kokum is very rich in antioxidants. Antioxidant rich foods like kokum if consumed regularly will keep us healthy. 3. For Parkinson’s Disease: Kokum has neuro protective properties and will greatly help treat nerve related problems. Antioxidants play an important role in Parkinson’s disease. Since kokum is rich in antioxidants, consuming it’s extract regularly will greatly help people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. You can read the study that proves it here. 4. For Type 2 Diabetes: Oxidative stress is one of the major factors in type 2 diabetes and oxidative stress depletes glutathione which in turn leads to diabetic complications. But consuming antioxidant rich foods like kokum reduces oxidative stress and helps restore the level of glutathione thus preventing diabetic complications. 5. Anti Cancer: Garcinol extracted from the rind of the fruit have amazing anti cancer properties. The amazing anti cancer properties of garcinol is due to it’s antioxidant, anti ageing and anti inflammatory properties. You can read the study that supports this claim here. 6. As a Body Coolant: Kokum has a cooling effect on the body and kokum sharbat if had during scorching summers actually reduces body heat and greatly prevents heat strokes. Also if you get fresh fruits, you can rub it on prickly heat rashes that is very common during summers, it is an amazing remedy for it. 7. Anti Ulcer: Garcinol present in kokum has amazing free radical scavenging properties and it also has anti ulcer properties. You can read the study that proves it here. If you are suffering from acidity consume kokum sharbat made at home regularly. 8. For Weight Loss: Some of the plants in the genus Garcinia has been widely used for aiding weight loss. Especially Garcinia Cambogia is widely used for weight loss and now kokum also is used as a weight loss supplement. Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) present in garcinia extracts is reported to reduce blood lipids, suppress appetite thereby naturally aiding weight loss. But the weight loss benefits have not been proven 100 % clinically on a large scale. Kokum Side Effects: Kokum generally agrees with everyone but don’t over consume kokum. Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers can consume kokum sharbat (kokum juice) in moderation. How is Kokum Oil Made? Kokum oil is made from the seed kernels of the fruit. The seeds are roasted and the kernels are separated from the seed shells. The kernels are then ground to a fine paste and then the ground paste is pressed to extract kokum oil. To make pure kokum oil, the extracted oil is boiled in large vats with little water, the impurities settle down and the pure kokum oil which floats on top is skimmed off. Pure kokum oil has all the benefits of kokum butter mentioned below. How Is Kokum Butter Made? The pure kokum oil thus extracted is churned for 6 to 8 hours to solidify and then it is poured into containers to set completely. Traditional kokum butter is made this way but refined kokum butter is made by adding lot of chemicals. Though expensive, I would suggest buying only unrefined kokum butter. Kokum butter is used extensively in cosmetics and can be used in place of any natural butters. It has amazing skin and hair benefits, it does not clog pores so it great for acne prone skin, reduces dryness of the skin, is rich in antioxidants, helps keep the skin supple and it is also a great hair conditioner. Where to Buy Kokum? You can buy dried kokum in health shops in India. You get ready made kokum sharbat easily in India but I would suggest making your own, it is so easy…
1. Take 1/2 cup of kokum, wash and soak in 1 cup of water for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Strain the water and take kokum alone (reserve the water).
3. Add little bit of the reserved liquid to kokum and grind to a fine paste.
4. Now take 1 cup raw unprocessed sugar and the reserved liquid in a pan and boil till thick.
5. Once thick, switch off and add in the ground kokum paste. Add 2 pinches of salt to it, mix well, cool, strain and store in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.
6. To make kokum juice, take 2 tbsp of the sherbet in a cup, add in a cup of chilled water and serve…