Despite serious safety concerns, people take tonka bean as a tonic; to increase sexual desire (as an aphrodisiac); and to treat cramps, nausea, cough, spasms, tuberculosis, wasting due to chronic disease, swelling caused by a blockage in the lymph system (lymphedema), and a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis.
Some people apply tonka bean directly to the affected area for mouth ulcers, earache, and sore throat.
In manufacturing, coumarin, one of the active constituents of tonka bean, is used as a flavoring and fragrance in various products in food, liquor, tobacco, soap, and cosmetics.
In foods, the seeds are used to make a nutty-flavored beverage.
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