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Tabashir: The Bamboo Elixir


English: Tabashir (तबाशीर, طباشیر)
Sanskrit: त्वक्षीर (Tvaksheera)
Mandarin: 天堂黄朱 (Tián zhū huáng )
Bengali: Banslochan (बंसलोचन, بنسلوچن )
Tabashir is the silicious concretion of crystalline form, found in the culms and joints of Bamboo. Tabashir, also known as tabachir or tabaxir or banslochan or bamboo manna or Tian Zhu Huang, is a hard, whitish, translucent substance extracted from the nodal joints of bamboo. It is chiefly composed of Silica, Water and a little lime and potash. This magical substance has been a part of Indian Ayurvedic, Unani and also Chinese traditional medicines for ages and has long been considered a love potion of almost mythical powers.

This magical substance has been traded from India to China, Persia, Arabian countries like Egypt, European areas like Greeks since the ancient times. Tabashir with a bluish tint (known as neel or neelkanth variety) is often considered superior in qualities than the other variant of yellowish/white colour.



Tabashir in Yesteryears:
In China at first Tabashir was imported from India, they call it 'yellow of India'. It is first mentioned under this designation as a product of India in the Materia Medica published in the period K'ai-pao (A.D. 968-976). The knowledge of this product and the product itself first reached the Chinese from India and naturally induced them to search for it in their own bamboos. The name was soon changed into 'bamboo-yellow' (竹黃 Zhú huáng) or 'bamboo-grease' (竹油脂 Zhú yóu) after they started obtaining it from the bamboos of China.
Earliest Arabic records mentioning Tabashir are from Arabic Author Abu Dulaf who travelled in Central Asia about A.D. 940. He says that the product comes from Mandurapatan in northwestern India and is exported from there into all countries of the world. 
Johan Albrecht de Mandelslo a seventeenth-century German adventurer, recounts in his memoirs that on the coast of Malabar, Coromandel, Bisnagar, and near to Malacca, a drug named 'Sacar-mambus'(Sugar of Mambu) is produced from a cane known as mambu or bamboo. Mandelslo also gives various accounts of its medicinal properties.
How it is found:
Tabashir is found in many species of bamboo, though it is commonly found in large quantities in the Melocanna Baccifera, Bambusa Textilis, and Gigantochloa Apus. Ancient practice was to burn down the bamboo and pick tabashir from the remains. Tabashir is not found in every bamboo culm nor in every species of bamboo. Nowadays it is found by shaking the culm of bamboo, the one with mineralised crystalline tabashir will make a rattling sound. These Stems are split open to extract the tabashir.
Uses:
Recent studies indicate that tabashir is a natural stimulant, astringent, febrifuge, tonic, cooling, antispasmodic, and aphrodisiac. But traditionally tabashir has been in use for medicinal purposes throughout the Asian countries. It was used as an aphrodisiac in Indian, Chinese, and other Asian cultures. Tabashir is a very important ingredient in many Chinese medicines. Chinese believe that Tabashir, or 'tiān zhu huang' restores calmness and stimulates creativity because of its qualities of tranquillity and sweetness. In India, tabashir has always been used for medicinal purposes and has believed to have magical healing properties. It is believed to be very useful in the It has been used over time as a medicine for the treatment of asthma, Childhood convulsive disease, Coma and stroke rehabilitation, spasms, phlegm, cough, paralyptic complaints. It has also been used as poison antidote It is believed that it is helpful in sleeplessness, calmness and stimulation of mind, benefits eyes, cools the blood, clears the blockages of heart and lungs, sleeplessness, 
Helpful medicine in bilious vomiting, bloody flux, piles, and various other diseases.

Trade Data:

In India, Tabashir is traded under the HS codes: 12119099 and 14049090. According to the available data, the exports from India alone has increased twofold from approx 200000 USD annually to USD 400000. France being largest importer from India.

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