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Jatropha podagrica


No documentation

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Jarak Buncit
English:  Bottle Plant, Coral Plant, Gout Stalk, Guatemalan Rhubarb, Physic Nut, Podagrica, Purging Nut, Coral vegetal [3]
Indonesia:  Jarak Batang Gajah, Jarak Bali [1]
China:  Fu Du Shu, San Hu You Tong [2]
Puerto  Rico:  Tinaja
Central America:  Tartogo


Nicaragu:  Ruibarbo

General Information


Jatropha podagrica is a native of Central America and the northern parts of South America but today it is well distributed throughout the world. It has been introduced as an ornamental due to the odd appearance of the stem and the bright red inflorescence.

It is a shrub which can grow up to 2m high with succulent stem and thick swollen base. The leaves are simple and alternate with long petiole that is peltate. The blade is broadly ovate and can be as big as 20-30cm long and the margin is entire or shallowly lobed. The flowers appears throughout the year. They are borne in red, flat-topped, terminal cymes, the few female flowers surrounded by many males. The corolla is free, five in number, obovate, bright red petals 3-8mm long. Fruit is shallowly three lobed with ovoid capsules and measures 1.3-1.8cm long.

Plant Part Used

Whole plant, roots, seeds, bark. [6]

Chemical Constituents

Stem bark: Tetramethylpyrazine, steroids, n-hexacosane, beta-amirine, lupeol, palmitate, beta-sitosterol, rutin, flavonoids, quercetin, apigenin, vitexin, iso-vitexin. Curculathyrane A (japodagrol) 

Cyclic Peptides: podacycline A and B; n-heptyl ferulate, fraxidin, acetylaleuritolic acid, β-sitosterol [4][5]  

Traditional Use:

Traditionally this plant is considered as being sweet, bitter and cold. It has been used as an analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and detoxicant. 

In Indonesia the whole plant is used to treat fever. [6] The Africans however make use of the seed oil as part of the ingredients in a compound medicine to treat fever. It has been used in the treatment of Malaria. [1] The whole plant is used as a haemostatic and also applied on haematoma to aid in rapid reduction of the swelling. The plant is known to have diuretic properties and is used to treat haematuria. [6] It is used to treat gonorrhea too. In Indonesia and China the plant has been used to treat snake bites. 10-15g of the plant is pounded and then immersed in rice wine. 

It has been used as a purgative and is known to be useful for intestinal infestation of worms. [1] Some African tribes are accustomed to chewing the seeds when they are in need of a laxative. In Indonesia the roots had been used as an appetite stimulant. It is also used in the treatment of jaundice. In various society the plant has been used to treat arthritic conditions and in particular gout. The roots have been used in Indonesia to treat body aches. It has also been advocated to be used in paralytic conditions. In this way the seed oil has been used as part of the ingredient for local application. Peruvians used it as a stimulant and strengthening remedy.  

The residue is then applied over the wound and bandaged. The bark of the plant is a remedy for fish poison. [6]

The seed oil is used to treat itchiness of the skin and also parasitic skin conditions. 

Pre-Clinical Data


Neuromuscular and cardiovascular activity 

An amide alkaloid was isolated from the stem of J. podagrica showed neuromuscular-blocking and hypotensive effects. The neuromuscular effect was found to be similar to those of d-tubocurarine i.e. blocking actions at the cholinergic and adrenergic neuro-effector junctions, the neuro-muscular junction and at the ganglia. The hypotensive effects is proven to be of a direct vascular nature and it was found that it blocked the extracellular entry of calcium through calcium channel and also inhibit the release of intracellular stored calcium in the vascular smooth muscle. This indicates that it is a true calcium antagonist. Data showed that tetramethylpyrazine from the extract was hypotensive and had a direct vascular effect. It not only blocked the entry of extracellular calcium through calcium channels but also inhibited the release of intracellular stored calcium in the vascular smooth muscle cell. It was a true calcium antagonist. [7][8][9] 

Antibacterial activity 

Hexane, chloroform and methanol extracts of the root wood and root barks of J. podagrica were studied for their antimicrobial activity against 18 organisms. All the extracts exhibited some broad spectrum antibacterial activity, at a concentration of 20mg/mL. The hexane extracts were generally more active than the chloroform and methanol extracts. The hexane extract of the yellow root bark was the most active of all the extracts and its activity was comparable to that of gentamycin but better with regard to the control of Staphylococcus. aureus and Bacillus.cereus. Three of the extracts, hexane extract of the yellow root bark and hexane and methanol extracts of the root wood showed moderate antifungal activity against the yeast fungus, Candida albicans. The methanolic extract of stem of J. podagrica has demonstrated antibacterial activity against only gram positive microorganisms. Fractionation of this extract resulted in a number of active fractions. One of them contained the amide alkaloid tetramethylpyrazine.[10][11] 

Schistosomicidal activity 

Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP) isolated from the stem bark of J. podagrica is both miracidal and cercariacidal but not ovicidal at a minimal concentration of 100μg/ml. Sublethal concentrations (125-800μ/mL) of TMP arrested the development of miracidia to cercariae in the bilharzia-transmitting snail (Bulinus globosus). [6] [12] 

Cytotoxic activity 

It was shown that the fraxidin, acetylaleuritolic acid and g-sitosterol isolated from roots and stem showed cytotoxic activities against HeLa cell line with IC50 of 39.9µg/L, 35.7µg/L and 15.9µg/L respectively. [6]


The genus Jatropha comprises plants that are toxic in nature and J. podagrica is not an exception. It contains many toxic principles which could cause many adverse reactions which could culminate in death when taken in large amounts. The seeds are supposed to contain curcin, a toxalbumin which has not been characterized as yet. Being a protein it is rendered inactive by boiling. Symptoms attributed to poisoning by Jatropha occur within 1 hour after ingestion and is characterized by nausea followed by acute abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In high doses it causes depression, syncope, and coma frequently followed by death.

Treatment of curcin toxicity is more supportive rather than definitive. There are no known antidotes to the poisoning with curcin. Patients are given medications to control the gastroenteritis symptoms. [1][13]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Should not be used in pregnancy as traditionally some societies has used it as an abortifacient. [6]

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

Caution should be observed when using the plant extracts with antihypertensive therapy as it may further suppress blood pressure. [6]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



Hypertensive therapy, pregnancy. [5]

Case Reports

No documentation

Read More

  1)  Poisonous


  1. Setiawan Dalimartha. Atlas tumbuhan obat Indonesia. Niaga Swadaya; 1999; 5: p.54-55.
  2. Mr. M. Nab. Notice of Plants at present in Flower in the open air at the Royal Botanic Garden. Botanical Society of Edinburgh Transactions and proceedings of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh.8. Edinburgh: Neil and Company; 1866.p.155.
  3. Report of the Council to the Anniversary Meeting 1st May1949 Royal Horticultural Society. Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. London Horticultural Society 1849. p. 186.
  4. Albert J. J. Van den Berg, , Stephan F. A. J. Horsten, J. Jantina Kettenes-van den Bosch, Cees J. Beukelman, Burt H. Kroes, Bas R. Leeflang and Rudi P. Labadie Podacycline A and B, two cyclic peptides in the latex of Jatropha podagrica. Phytochemistry .May 1996. 42(1). pp.129-133.
  5. Malaysian Journal Of Chemistry. Available from: [Accessed on 20th Sept 09]. 
  6. IPC Inchem. Available from: [Accessed on 20th Sept 09]. 
  7. J. A. O. Ojewole, O. O. Odebiyi Neuromuscular and Cardiovascular Actions of Tetramethylpyrazine from the Stem of Jatropha podagrica. Planta Med. 1980; 8: 332-338. 
  8. Pang PK, Shan JJ, Chiu KW. Tetramethylpyrazine, a calcium antagonist. Planta Med. Oct 1996;62(5):431-435.
  9. Ojewole JA. Blockade of adrenergic and cholinergic transmissions by tetramethylpyrazine. Planta Med. Sep1981;43(9):pp.1-10. 
  10. Dr. O. O. Aiyelaagbe, E. K. Adesogan, O. Ekundayo 1, B. A. Adeniyi The antimicrobial activity of roots of Jatropha podagrica (Hook).Phytotherapy Research.14(1). pp.60 – 62.
  11. Olusheye O. Odebiyi Antibacterial Property of Tetramethyl-Pyrazine from the Stem of Jatropha podagrica. Planta Med.1980; 38: pp.144-146.
  12. C. O. Adewunmi ‌ and O. O. Odebiyi ‌ In vitro Schistosomicidal Activity of Tetramethylpyrazine from Jatropha podagrica Hook. Stem Bark Nigeria Pharmaceutical Biology:1985;23(3).pp.119-120.
  13. Donald G. Barceloux Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons; 2008.pp. 829–830.

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