Jatropha curcas L
[From Greek, iatros = doctor; trophe name for this plant]
Common name: Physic nut, purging nut tree; jarakbelanda (Malay); medicinier, haricot du Perou, oignon d'Inde (French); kesugi (Burmese); lohong kvang sa (Cambodia); ma fong chou (Chinese); ricino mayor (Portuguese); chitra (Sanskrit); arbol de los pinones de Indias (Spanish).
Physical description: It is a tropical shrub native to Mexico. The plant grows to a height of 3 m and produces an abundantly milky latex. The stems are smooth and covered with very small whitish lenticels. Leaves: simple, spiral and without stipules. The petiole is 12.2cm-9cm x 2 mm and thin. The blade is very thin and 5-lobed-cordate. The margin is somewhat wavy, the nerves are raised on both surfaces of the blade, and tertiary nerves are visible beneath. The inflorescences are terminal and about 8 cm long. The flowers are 6mm x 7mm, hermaphrodite, and with a honeysuckle-like fragrance. The sepals are diamond-shaped and accrescent in fruits. The andrecium comprises of 10 stamens which are joined together. The filaments are 3.5 mm long, and the anthers, 2 mm long. The corolla consists of 5 yellowish-green petals with white hairs. The fruits are 3-lobed fleshy capsules of about 2.5 cm in length. The seeds are brownish-black and 1.8cm long (Fig. 211).
= food; and curcas = the vernacular
Pharmaceutical potential: In regard to the dermatological property of Jat-ropha curcas L., single topical dose treatment with 50 ^L of latex at dilutions 10%, 50% or 100% and multiple dose treatment with dilutions between 5% and 10% show a healing effect in Balb/c mice skin. However, multiple dose treatment with 50% or pure undiluted latex produces caustic lesions to the treated skin (Salas J et a/., 1994). Oral administration of an extract of fruit induces fetal resorption in pregnant rats, substantiating the abortifacient property (Goonasekaran MM et al., 1995). Note that a water extract of the stems of Jatropha curcas L. inhibits strongly HIV-induced cyto-pathicity effects in vitro (Matsuse IT et al., 1998). The latex of the plant contains a very unusual cyclopeptide known as curcacycline which enhances romatase activity of cyclophilin (Auvin C et al, 1997). Cyclopeptides are quite rare in plants but common in marine invertebrates such as ascidia. Marine cyclopeptides have attracted a great deal of interest on account of their cyto-toxic properties. This cyclopeptides are synthetized in ascidias by tiny algae. Is curcacycline B produced by a symbiotic microorganism as well?
Uses: The oil expressed from the seeds of Jatropha curcas L. (Oleum Infernale) was formerly used in Western medicine to relieve the bowels of costiveness, to treat bleeding, and to heal wounds. In Burma, the seeds are used to relieve the bowels of costiveness. In Indonesia, the latex is used to alleviate itchiness, control bleeding, and treat eczema and ringworms. In the Philippines, the oil expressed from the seeds is used to relieve the bowels of costiveness and the latex, to assuage toothache. The plant is also used to treat cough and to stop diarrhea. In Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, Jatropha curcas L. is used to facilitate abortion, alleviate itchiness and heal ulcers. In Malaysia, the latex is used to treat bleeding and heal wounds.
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