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Jatropha curcas


Jatropha afrocurcas, Croton moluccanus, Curcas purgans, Castiglionia lobata, Jatropha acerifolia  [3] [9]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia Jarak Pagar
English Jatropha, Physic Nut, Purging Nut, Barbados Nut
China You Lu Zi, Guo Ma Hong
Indonesia Jarak Costa (Malay); Jarak Kusta (Sunda); Kalele (Madura); Jarak Pager (Bali); Bintalo (Gorontalo) Balacai Hisa (Ternate)
Bolong Cauit, Tatataba, Tavatava, Tawatawa, Tubang Bakod
Ba Dau Nam
India Kananaeranda, Parvataranda (Sanskrit); Bagbherenda; Kadam (Hindi); Caat Amunak (Tamil) Nepala, Adivie amida (Telagu); Rata endaru (Sinhalese) 
Turkey Kurkas 
Arab Danb Barri 

Bagani (Ivory Coast); Kpoti (Togo); Mupuluka (Angola); Butuje (Nigeria); Makaen (Tanzania); Mbono (Swahili)

France Pourghere, Purchere, Grand Pignon d’Inde, Feve d’enfer, Gros Ricin, Medicinier purgative 

Purgueira, Pinhao, Ricino Major, Grao de maluco, Galamaluco

 South America Pitana (Mexico); Coquillo (Costa Rica); Tartago (Puerto Rico); Mundubi-assu (Brazil); Pinol (Peru) [3] [9]

General Information


Jatropha curcas is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is a deciduous, succulent, monoeious shrub or small tree which can reach up to 8m tall. The stems arise from a thich, perennial rootstoch, with watery to whitish latex. The bark is smooth, grey or reddish, shiny and peeling off in papery scales. The leaves are alternate, simple, stipules are minute; petiole 10-20cm long, glabrous; the blade is broadly ovate in outline, usually shallowly 5-lobed measuring 7-14 x 5.5-14cm, base shallowly or deeply cordate, apex acute, margins entire, glabrous, 5-7-veined from the base. The inflorescence a terminal or axillary umbel-like cyme, often paired, with a solitary female flower terminating each major axis and many male flowers on lateral branches. The peduncle measures up to 5cm long and hairy. The bracts elliptical-lanceolate measure 1cm long and acuminate. The flowers are unisexual, regular, greenish yellow in colour. The male flower has ovate calyx lobes measure 2mm long with petals fused in lower half, lobes oblong to ovate in shape measuring 3mm long. The disk composed of 5 free flands while the stamens 8 in number, in 2 distinct whorls consisting of the 5 outer fused at the base and the 3 inner with filaments completely fused. The female flower has ovate-lanceolate calyx lobe measures 4-5mm long and hairy. The petals measure 6mm long and free. The disk composed of 5 free glands, ovary superior, ovoid-ellipoid, 3-celled. The styles 3 in number, fused at base while the stigma 2-lobed and the staminodes 10 in number. The fruit is a broadly ellipsoid capsule measres 2.5-3cm x 2cm, smooth-skinned, initially fleshy and green, turning yellow and eventually dry and black, late dehiscent, 3 seeded. The seeds are ellipsoid measure 1-2 cm long, mottled black and coarsely pitted.[3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, bark, root and root bark, seed oil [3]

Chemical Constituents

2-alpha-hydroxy-epi-isojatrogrossidione; 2-methyanthraquinone; 3-O-(Z)-coumaroyl oleanolic acid;6,6"-di-C-beta-D-glucopyranoside-methylene-(8,8")-biapigenin; 22,23-dihydro-stigmasterol; alpha-tocopherol; apigenin; apigenin 7-O-beta-D-neohesperidoside;  apigenin 7-O-beta-D-galactoside; arachidic acid;  behenic acid; beta-amylin; curcain;   curcasin; curcacycline A;  curcin; curcusone B;  dotriacontanol;  epi-isojatrogrossidione;  gadoleic acid;  heudelotinone; jatrocurin; jatropholone A, B; lignoceric acid; linoleic acid; linolenic acid; margaric acid;  margaroleic acid;  myristic acid;  nobiletin;  nurvonic acid; oleic acid; orientin; palmitic acid; palmitoleic acid; pentadecanoic acid; stearic acid; tetradecyl-(E)-ferulate; vitexin; vicenin II;[3][5-7]

Traditional Used:

Eventhough J. curcus has a drastic purgative action it is still being employed in the treatment of diarrhoea. The oil extracted from the seeds is used as a purgative and to expel intestinal parasites. The dried pulverized root bark is also used to expel intestinal worms and is a remedy for jaundice. The leaf sap is taken internally to treat haemorrhoids. Fresh stems are used as chew sticks to strengthen the gums and to cure bleeding, spongy gums or gum boils.

Oleum ricini majoris, the oil from the seeds is used as a rubefacient for a variety of skin infections. The latex is reputed for it would healing properties, a haemostatic and cure for skin problems. It is applied externally  treat infected wounds, ulcers, ringworm, eczema, dermatomycosis, scabies. As a styptic it is used to treat pains and stings of bees and wasps. [3]

As a rubefacient, the seed oil is rubbed over rheumatic joints for relieve of inflammation. When applied externally and given internally it can cause abortions. Hot water extract of the leaves can promote lactation and is given to women after delivery for this very purpose. A decoction of the roots is a cure for gonorrhoea. In the Philippines, the leaves are used for snake bites and insect stings. In India the stem bark is applied over wounds of animal bites while the root bark is applied on sores. [3][8][10]

Pre-Clinical Data


Tumour promoters activity

The seed oil of J. curcus showed skin tumour promoting in a two stage carcinogenesis experiment. The irritant fraction obtained induced ornithine decarboxylase in mouse skin and inhibit the specific binding of 3H-12-O-tetradecanolyphorbol-13-acetate to a particulate fraction of mouse skin. After initiation with 7,12-dimethlybenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) the irritant factor was found to induce tumours in the skin of 36% of the mice tested in 30 weeks, while the irritant factor alone induce 13% in 30 weeks.[11]

Study [12] subsequently isolated and characterised the tumour promoter as an intramolecular diesterof 12-deoxy-16-hydrophorbol. The following are the compounds isolated: 13,16-diester of 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol, 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol-4'-[12',14'-butadienyl]-6'-[16',18',20'-nonatrienyl]-bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane-(13-O)-2'-[carboxylate]-(16-O)-3 '- [8'-butenoic-10']ate (DHPB). DHPB showed the activities cited above. There was 46.7% incidence of tumours by week 30 when DHPB was applied together with 7,12-dimethlybenz[a]anthracene (DMBA).

Antitumour activity

Curcin is a toxic principle in J. curcus and showed strong antitumour effect via a mechanism related to the N-glycosidase activity.[19] In a attempt to understand the mechanism of action of curcin as a potent antitumor protein, Luo et al. [21] used the segment encoding the mature protein of curcin and inserted it into Escherichia coli strain M15. This recombinant strain was then induced to express by by isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactopyranoside at a concentration of 0.5mM. The target protein was incubated with the tumour cells ar different concentrations of different times and the results demonstrated that the target protein could inhibit the growth of tumour cells (NCL-H446, SGC-7901 and S180) at 5microg/ml.

A diterpene, curcusone B, isolated from J. curcus showed ability to suppress metastatic processes at doses that are non-toxic to cells. This is expressed in the form of strong reduction of in vitro invasion, motility and secretion of matrix-metalloproteinases (MMP) of the cancer cells together with reduction in the adherence ability to a mitragel coated surface.[22]

Cicartization activity

The latex of J. curcus had been used traditionally for treatment of wounds. Study [13] reported finding J. curcus to have significant wound healing activity. Salas et al. [14] studied this effect in Balb/c mice skin. It was found that single dose treatment with 10%, 50%, or 100% and the multiple dose treatment with dilutions between 5% and 10%, have a healing effect bit only on males. Multiple dose treatment with 50% or pure undiluted latex produced caustic lesions on treated skin. Studies [23] found that the wound healing property of crude bark extract of J. curcus was by increasing the skin breaking strength, granulation tissue breaking strength, wound contraction, dry granulation tissue weight and hydroxyproline levels. A significant decrease in epithelization period was observed. Histopathological examination of the granulation tissue showed advanced phase of healing with more collagen, which has organized to from bundles.

Abortifacient activity

Study [16] reported the abortifacient properties of methanol, petroleum ether and dichloromethane extracts of the fruit of J. curcus. They believed that the interruption of pregnancy occurred at an early stage of implantation with effects observable when given from 6th to 8th day of pregnancy. Other findings include significant loss of weight in treated animals and marked toxicity with some extracts when given over a comparatively long period of about 10 days.

Antimicrobial activity

Antiviral activity

It was reported that the water extract of the branches of J. curcus strongly inhibit the HIV-induced cytopathic effects with low cytotoxcity. [17]

Antibacterial activity

Bacteriological and parasitological tests were carried out on laboratory bench surfaces using the sap and crushed leaves of J. curcus. Study [18] found that the sap has germicidal actions on the growth of common bacteria Staphylococcus, Bacillus and Micrococcus species on contact and the effects remained up to six hours after initial application.

Anthelminthic activity

Study [18] also found that the ova of Ascaris lumbricoides and Necator americanus when incubated in 50% and 100% concentration of the sap at room temperature showed either no evidence of embrynation after 21 days in the case of Ascaris lumbricoides, negation of hatchability in hookworm or complete distortion in both.

Coagulant and anticoagulant activity

The sap of J. curcus had been reported to be used to treat bleeding wounds with the purpose of arresting bleeding. Studies [20] on the coagulant and anticoagulant activities of this sap and found that the concentrated sap reduced the clotting time of human blood while the diluted sap on the other hand prolonged clotting time and at high dilutions the blood did not clot at all. This is confirmed by the Prothrombin time (PT) and Activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). They found that upon fractionation, the ethyl actate fraction exhibited a procoagulant activity, while the butanol fraction had the highest anticoagulant activity. The residual aqueous fraction had no significant effect on the clotting time of blood and the PT but slightly prolonged the APTT.


The toxic principle of J. curcus lies in the viscous, astringent latex that exudes from damaged protions of the plant. It contains a proteolytic enzyme called curcain which is irritating externally to the skin and eyes and toxic internally, but rapidly halts bleeding when applied to wounds. In vitro testing of the latex on coagulation is complex; the whole latex having pro-coagulation activity, whilst when diluted it exhibits anticoagulant activity. Curcin inhibits protein synthesis in the cells of the intestinal walls, increases prothrombin time and has other adverse influences similar to those of ricin and abrin. The oil extracted from the seeds contains curcanoleic acid. In animal models the oil produce server diarrhoea and gastro-intestinal inflammation. One constituent of this oil, 12-deoxy-10-hydroxyphorbol, is a purgative and a skin irritant.

The clinical response following ingestion of the seeds of J. curcus is severe gastroenteritis manifested by profuse vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal colic together with burning in the throat. Symptoms begin with 30 minutes to several hours of ingestion, and it can be so severe as to cause significant dehydration in children. This is self limiting and recovery usually occurs within 6-24 hours without sequelae. Treatment is mainly supportive for the fluid and electrolyte imbalance associated with severe gastroenteritis. Decontamination is not necessary due to the presence of severe vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no specific antidotes. [1][2]

Studies [15] on the toxicity of the seed oil. The toxic fraction (2.4%) containing the phorbol esters was isolated from the oil. The acute oral LD50 of the of the oil was found to be 6ml/kg body weight in rats. When applied to skin of rabbits and rats, it produced a severely irritant reaction followed by necrosis; in mice, this fraction had a dermally toxic and lethal effect. The oil and the toxic fraction at 25 and 1mg respectively in 10ml saline showed haemolytic activity, disrupting red blood cells. They recommended detoxification processes to be done before its use in industrial applications or in human medicine.

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

The use of J. curcus to induce abortion is reported above. Animal studies of methanol extracts from fresh and dried fruit showed that is has marked abrotifacient effects; and jatrophone and other cytotoxic diterpenes were found to be responsible for this effect.[4]

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

Patients on anticoagulant therapy should not consume this drug as it may potentiate the action of anticoagulants ot may nullify the effects.

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info

  2) Cultivation

  3) Poisonous


    1. Donald G. Barceloux Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants and Venomous Animals John Wiley & Sons Inc. 2008 pg. 830
    2. David W. Nellis Poisonous Plants and Animals of Florida and the Caribbean Pineapple Press Inc. Sarasota 1997 pg. 176
    3. Gabriella Harriet Schmelzer, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Medicinal Plants I PROTA Foundations/ Backhuys Publisher Wageningen 2008 pg 347 – 350
    4. Markus S. Meuller, Ernst Mechler Medicinal Plants in Tropical Countries: Traditional Use – Experience – Facts Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart 2005 pg. 92
    5. Abd-Alla HI, Moharram FA, Gaara AH, El-Safty MM. Phytoconstituents of Jatropha curcas L. leaves and their immunomodulatory activity on humoral and cell-mediated immune response in chicks. Z Naturforsch C. 2009 Jul-Aug;64(7-8):495-501.
    6. Wang ZY, Chen FL, Lin JM, Huang SL. [Gas chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis of Jatropha curcas leaf extracts prepared by supercritical fluid CO2 extraction] Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2009 May;29(5):1002-3, 1007.
    7. Ravindranath N, Ravinder Reddy M, Ramesh C, Ramu R, Prabhakar A, Jagadeesh B, Das B. New lathyrane and podocarpane diterpenoids from Jatropha curcas. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2004 May;52(5):608-11.
    8. Susan Scott, Craig Thomas Poisonous Plants: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries University of Hawaii 2000 pg 88
    9. Peter Hanelt Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops Volume 5 Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2001 pg. 1209-1210
    10. C.P. Khare Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2007 pg. 345
    11. Horiuchi T, Fujiki H, Hirota M, Suttajit M, Suganuma M, Yoshioka A, Wongchai V, Hecker E, Sugimura T. Presence of tumor promoters in the seed oil of Jatropha curcas L. from Thailand. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1987 Mar;78(3):223-6.
    12. Hirota M, Suttajit M, Suguri H, Endo Y, Shudo K, Wongchai V, Hecker E, Fujiki H. A new tumor promoter from the seed oil of Jatropha curcas L., an intramolecular diester of 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol. Cancer Res. 1988 Oct 15;48(20):5800-4.
    13. Villegas LF, Fernández ID, Maldonado H, Torres R, Zavaleta A, Vaisberg AJ, Hammond GB. Evaluation of the wound-healing activity of selected traditional medicinal plants from Perú. J Ethnopharmacol. 1997 Feb;55(3):193-200.
    14. Salas J, Tello V, Zavaleta A, Villegas L, Salas M, Fernández I, Vaisberg A. [Cicatrization effect of Jatropha curcas latex (Angiospermae: Euforbiaceae)] Rev Biol Trop. 1994 Apr-Aug;42(1-2):323-6.
    15. Gandhi VM, Cherian KM, Mulky MJ. Toxicological studies on ratanjyot oil. Food Chem Toxicol. 1995 Jan;33(1):39-42.
    16. Goonasekera MM, Gunawardana VK, Jayasena K, Mohammed SG, Balasubramaniam S. Pregnancy terminating effect of Jatropha curcas in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Jul 28;47(3):117-23.
    17. Matsuse IT, Lim YA, Hattori M, Correa M, Gupta MP. A search for anti-viral properties in Panamanian medicinal plants. The effects on HIV and its essential enzymes. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jan;64(1):15-22.
    18. Fagbenro-Beyioku AF, Oyibo WA, Anuforom BC. Disinfectant/antiparasitic activities of Jatropha curcas. East Afr Med J. 1998 Sep;75(9):508-11.
    19. Lin J, Yan F, Tang L, Chen F. Antitumor effects of curcin from seeds of Jatropha curcas. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2003 Mar;24(3):241-6.
    20. Osoniyi O, Onajobi F. Coagulant and anticoagulant activities in Jatropha curcas latex. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Nov;89(1):101-5.
    21. Luo MJ, Yang XY, Liu WX, Xu Y, Huang P, Yan F, Chen F. Expression, purification and anti-tumor activity of curcin. Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2006 Sep;38(9):663-8.
    22. Muangman S, Thippornwong M, Tohtong R. Anti-metastatic effects of curcusone B, a diterpene from Jatropha curcas. In Vivo. 2005 Jan-Feb;19(1):265-8.
    23. Shetty S, Udupa SL, Udupa AL, Vollala VR. Wound healing activities of Bark Extract of Jatropha curcas Linn in albino rats. Saudi Med J. 2006 Oct;27(10):1473-6.

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