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Semecarpus anacardium, also known as oriental cashew or Indian cashew, is indigenous to India. It is usually found growing in the eastern portion of the country. Semecarpus anacardium has long been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine to treat a number of complaints. It can be used to treat skin problems, digestive upsets, and nervous disorders, and may be a powerful anti-inflammatory and diuretic. It may help to cure infections of a bacterial or fungal nature, and may even be effective in the treatment of some cancers.
As an anti-inflammatory, this herb has been traditionally used to treat respiratory complaints. Bronchitis, chronic cough, and asthma are said to benefit from treatment with it. Heart-failure-related edema, or water retention, and weaknesses of the heart are also said to benefit from treatment with Semecarpus anacardium. It's considered capable of treating internal infections, and has been used to remedy digestive complaints such as diarrhea, colitis, hemorrhoids, and intestinal worms. Herbalists in the past have used this herb to combat yellow fever.
In traditional medicine, Indian cashew is used to treat ailments including skin infections and non-infectious conditions of the skin. Ringworm and scabies are among the skin infections traditionally treated with this herb. It's also been used to treat warts, psoriasis, eczema, and corns.
Practitioners of traditional ayurvedic medicine have used this herb to remedy reproductive complaints, such as lack of interest in sex, low sperm count, and painful menstruation. It's also said to be effective for nervous complaints, including forgetfulness, dementia, and psychological trauma. Epilepsy, paralysis, and nerve pain are said to improve after treatment with Semecarpus anacardium. The herb has been used to support digestion and improve the appetite. It is said to reduce the size of cancerous tumors.
The nuts of the Semecarpus anacardium plant are traditionally used for medicinal applications. In ayurvedic medicine, the nuts are prepared for use by boiling them in cow manure and then rinsing them thoroughly in lukewarm water. The oils found in the nuts can cause skin irritation and toxicity if not properly prepared. These caustic oils are often used in their pure form to treat skin complaints such as warts.
The innermost kernel of the nut, however, is edible. Roasting the kernels can produce smoke that will irritate the respiratory tract if inhaled, but the roasted nuts are often eaten or mixed with beverages to enhance their flavor.