Jatropha gossypifolia

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  Jatropha gossypifolia

 

Four or five species of Jatropha, Euphorbiaceae, occur naturalised or in cultivation in India.

Jatropha curcas L., a native of tropical America, occurs in various parts of India, particularly in the Coromandel, Konkan and Malabar coatal areas.

Jatropha glandulifera Roxb., is also a native of tropical America, naturalised in Bengal, northern circars, Deccan, Carnatic, and rarely found in Oudh and Punjab.

Jatropha gossypifolia L., is a native of Brazil, naturalised in many parts of India.

Jatropha mulfifida L., the coral plant, from tropical America is cultivated in gardens.

Though there is a little confusion between Jatropha glandulifera and Jatropha gossypifolia, the species are easily distinguished from each other. The following species are of medicinal and other interest:

1. Jatropha curcas:

Roasted nuts and seeds are a purgative. The seed oil of Jatropha curcas is a stronger purgative than castor oil. Juice of the plant of this species is used in scabies, eczema and ringworm. The oil is sued in sciatica, dropsy and paralysis. The oil is applied externally in skin ailments and rheumatism.

The twigs are used to brush teeth and are a cure for swollen gums. Leaf decoction is used externally as a galactagogue and a rubifacient.

The resinous extract from the whole plant is used like shellac and in making inks. The bark yields a dark blue dye, used to colour cotton lines. The leaves also yield a dye.

Jatropha curcas is a fish poison and its seed oil is used in making candles, varnishes and soaps, and also as illuminating and lubricating oil.

In west Africa the seed oil is used as a purgative and as a remedy for dropsy, sciatica, paralysis and skin diseases.

The toxic principle of the seeds is curcin. Seed kernels contain fatty oil, phytosterols, sucrose and a resin. The seed oil contains glycerides of stearic, palmitic, myristic, oleanic and curcanoleic acids. The flavonoids vitexin and isovitexin were recorded from the Indian material. The fruit, the root and the bark contain cyanic acid and a steroidal saponoside. The mucilage of the seed kernels contains xylose, galalctose, rhamnose, galacturonic acid and toxalbumin (a lectin?) and curcin.

The mucilage of the seed kernels reduces prothrombin time and coagulation time, comparable in effect to Russelís viper venom and used as a source of thromboplastin. The toxalbumn fraction increases prothrombin time. Curcin has many features common with ricin. The seed oil has insecticidal properties. Fruits and seeds are considered as a contraceptive. An ethanol extract is effective against P388 lympholytic leukaemia.

2. Jatropha glandulifera:

Jatropha glandulifera has the same general properties and uses as those of Jatropha curcas. The juice of the plant is used to remove film from the eye. The root extract in water is used to cure abdominal enlargements in children and to reduce glandular swellings.

A gel of the plant extract, formed with benzyl benzoate is used as an application for skin diseases.

The protein from the seed cake is used for making plastics and synthetic fibre.

3. Jatropha gossypifolia:

Jatropha gossypifolia (Jatropha gossypifolia1) is similarly used, in general, as the other species. The leaves are applied to boils, carbuncles, eczema and itches. The decoction of the bark is an emmenagogue. Seeds are an emetic and a purgative.

In west Africa this species is used for the same general properties.

Methanolic extracts were strongly molluscicidal.

The bark contains an alkaloid jatrophine, similr to quinine. The leaves contain saponin, resin and tannin. Saline extracts are antimicrobial.

  1. Jatropha multifida:

The tuberous roots are roasted and eaten. Decoction of the root is used in indigestion and colic. The leaves are a purgative and also used in scabies. Seeds are used in criminal poisoning.