Drugs A - Z
Jequirity (Abrus precatorius)
Generic Name: Abrus precatorius
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Abrin, abrin A, abrin B, abrin C, abrus a chapelet, Abrusabrus (L.) W. Wight, Abrus cantoniensis, Abrus precatorius, Linn., Abrus pulchellus, abrus seed, aivoeiro, arraccu-mitim, ayurvedic phytomedicine, bead vine, black-eyed Susan, blackeyed Susan, Buddhist rosary bead, cain ghe, Carolina muida, colorine, coral bean, crab's eye, crabs eye, deadly crab's eye, Glycine abrus L., graines reglisse, gunchi, gunja, hint meyankoku, hung tou, Indian bead, Indian licorice, Indian liquorice, jequerit, jequirity bean, jequirity seed, jumble beads, juquiriti, lady bug bean, lady bug seed, legume, Leguminosae (family), liane reglisse, love bean, lucky bean, ma liao tou, ojo de pajaro, paratella, paternoster, peonia de St. Tomas, peonia, peronilla, phytotoxin, Pois rouge, prayer beads, prayer head, precatory bean, rakat, reglisse, rosary beads, rosary pea, ruti, rutti, Seminole bead, tentos da America, temtos dos mundos, tento muido, to-azuki, tribal pulse, weather plant, weesboontje, wild licorice.
Abrin, a constituent of jequirity (Abrus precatorius), is toxic and ingestion of one bean by a child may be fatal. However, the boiled seeds of Abrus precatorius L. are eaten by the residents of the Andaman Islands in India; boiling the seeds reportedly deactivates the toxins. Abrin is being investigated for the treatment of experimental cancers and is used as a "molecular probe" to investigate cell function.
In folk medicine, jequirity is used orally to quicken labor, as an abortifacient (induces abortion), oral contraceptive, to treat diabetes and chronic nephritis (kidney inflammation), and as analgesic (pain reliever) in terminally ill patients. The whole plant has been used for ophthalmic (eye) inflammations.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abdominal pain, abortifacient (induces abortion), abscesses, acne, allergies, animal bites, anodyne (pain reliever), anthelmintic (expels worms), anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-platelet agent, anti-suppurative (drains pus), antitumor, aphrodisiac, asthma, blennorrhea (mucous discharge), boils, bronchitis, cancer, colds, colic, conjunctivitis (pink eye), contraceptive, convulsions, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic, emetic (induces vomiting), epilepsy, evil spirits, expectorant (promotes coughing up of mucous), emollient (softens and soothes skin), febrifuge (fever reducer), fever, fractures in animals, gastritis (inflamed stomach), gonorrhea (STD), graying hair, headache, hemostat, insecticide, jaundice, laxative, leukemia, leukoderma (loss of skin pigmentation), malaria, nephritis (kidney inflammation, chronic), night-blindness, purgative (strongly laxative), rabies (prevention), rheumatism, sedative, snakebite, sores, spermatorrhea (involuntary loss of semen without orgasm), tetanus, schistosomiasis (tropical parasitic disease, urinary), uterine tonic.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for jequirirty. Abrin, a constituent of Abrus precatorius seeds, is toxic and its ingestion can be fatal. A common traditional dose is 5 grams of ground jequirirty root paste daily, which has been used for cramping, diarrhea, spermatorrhoea (involuntary loss of semen without orgasm), and abdominal pain. To expel worms (anthelmintic), 1 teaspoon of ground, dried jequirirty seeds once a day for two days has been taken by mouth. Ground Abrus precatorius and Curcumalonga roots have also been applied to wounds.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for jequirirty in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Side Effects and Warnings
Ingestion of jequirity seeds has many toxic side effects, predominantly vomiting, diarrhea (possibly bloody), edema (swelling), vascular leak syndrome, coma, circulatory collapse, and death. Ingestion of seeds may cause hypertension (high blood pressure), tachycardia (fast heart rate), coma or circulatory collapse.
Seeds that are sucked, chewed or ingested with cracked shells can cause stomach cramping and nausea. Eye contact with the seeds' contents may cause necrotizing conjunctivitis (pink eye, eye infection). Jewelry made of the seeds may cause dermatitis.
Although not well studied in humans, jequirirty may cause kidney or liver damage, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), pulmonary hemorrhage, or emphysema.
Jequirirty may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Jequirity is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Avoid taking the seeds by mouth in all patients, as the toxin abrin is present in potentially lethal amounts in the seeds.
Interactions with Drugs
Although not well studied in humans, jequirity seeds may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Jequirity seeds may cause necrosis of hepatocytes (death of liver cells) and have additive effects with hepatotoxic (liver damaging) drugs. Caution is advised.
Jequirity seeds may cause necrosis (death) of renal (kidney) convoluted tubules and have additive effects with nephrotoxic (kidney damaging) drugs.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Although not well studied in humans, jequirity seeds may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Jequirity seeds may cause necrosis of hepatocytes (death of liver cells) and have additive effects with hepatotoxic (liver damaging) herbs. Caution is advised.
Jequirity seeds may cause hypertension (high blood pressure), and may interact with herbs that alter blood pressure.
Jequirity seeds may cause necrosis (death) of renal (kidney) convoluted tubules and have additive effects with nephrotoxic (kidney damaging) herbs.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Sooyoun Kang, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Anam EM. Anti-inflammatory activity of compounds isolated from the aerial parts of Abrus precatorius (Fabaceae). Phytomedicine. 2001;8(1):24-27.
Dickers KJ, Bradberry SM, Rice P, et al. Abrin poisoning. Toxicol.Rev. 2003;22(3):137-142.
Fernando C. Poisoning due to Abrus precatorius (jequirity bean). Anaesthesia 2001;56(12):1178-1180.
Kuo SC, Chen SC, Chen LH, et al. Potent antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory and antiallergic isoflavanquinones from the roots of Abrus precatorius. Planta Med 1995;61(4):307-312.
Moshi MJ, Kagashe GA, Mbwambo ZH. Plants used to treat epilepsy by Tanzanian traditional healers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2-28-2005;97(2):327-336.
Nath D, Sethi N, Singh RK, et al. Commonly used Indian abortifacient plants with special reference to their teratologic effects in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1992;36(2):147-154.
Ndamba J, Nyazema N, Makaza N, et al. Traditional herbal remedies used for the treatment of urinary schistosomiasis in Zimbabwe. J.Ethnopharmacol. 1994;42(2):125-132.
Nwodo OF, Alumanah EO. Studies on Abrus precatorius seeds. II: Antidiarrhoeal activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 1991;31(3):395-398.
Ohba H, Moriwaki S, Bakalova R, et al. Plant-derived abrin-a induces apoptosis in cultured leukemic cell lines by different mechanisms. Toxicol.Appl.Pharmacol. 3-1-2004;195(2):182-193.
Ohba H, Toyokawa T, Yasuda S, et al. Spectroscopic analysis of the cytoagglutinating activity of abrin-b isolated from Abrus precatorius seeds against leukemic cells. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 1997;61(4):737-739.
Pillay VV, Bhagyanathan PV, Krishnaprasad R, et al. Poisoning due to white seed variety of Abrus precatorius. J Assoc Physicians India 2005;53:317-319.
Ramnath V, Kuttan G, Kuttan R. Immunopotentiating activity of abrin, a lectin from Abrus precatorius Linn. Indian J Exp Biol 2002;40(8):910-913.
Ramos MV, Sampaio AH, Cavada, BS, et al. Characterization of the sugar-binding specificity of the toxic lectins isolated from Abrus pulchellus seeds. Glycoconj.J 2001;18(5):391-400.
Ratnasooriya WD, Amarasekera AS, Perera NS, et al. Sperm antimotility properties of a seed extract of Abrus precatorius. J.Ethnopharmacol. 1991;33(1-2):85-90.
Zambenedetti P, Giordano R, Zatta P. Histochemical localization of glycoconjugates on microglial cells in Alzheimer's disease brain samples by using Abrus precatorius, Maackia amurensis, Momordica charantia, and Sambucus nigra lectins. Exp.Neurol. 1998;153(1):167-171.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.