Jateorhiza palmata Miers

Family ► Menispermaceae.

Habitat ► Indigenous to south-east tropical Africa. Imported into India.

English ► Calumba, Colombo.

Ayurvedic ► Kalambaka. (Coscinium fenestratum Colebr., known as False calumba, is used as a substitute for J. palmata.)

Jatropha glandulifera Roxb. 345

Siddha/Tamil ► Kolumbu.

Action ► Root—bitter tonic without astringency, carminative, gastric tonic, antiflatulent, hyptotensive, orexigenic, uterine stimulant, sedative. Used in anorexia, poor digestion, hypochlorhydria, amoebic dysentery and menstrual disorders. Antifungal.

Key application ► As appetite stimulant. (The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

The root gave isoquinoline alkaloids 2-3%; palmatine, jaterorrhizine and its dimer bis-jateorrhizine, columbamine; bitters (including chasmanthin and palmanin). Volatile oil contains thymol.

The alkaloid jateorrhizine is sedative, hypotensive. Palmatine is a uterine stimulant.

As calumba contains very little volatile oil and no tannins, it is free from as-tringency which is common with other bitter herbs.

The root alkaloids exhibit narcotic properties and side effects similar to morphine. It is no longer used (in Western herbal) as a digestive aid, and is rarely used as an antidiarrhoeal agent. (Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2007.)

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