Thursday, December 4, 2008

Abrus precatorius Linn.

Family : Fabaceae

Synonym(s) : Abrus abrus (L.) W. Wight.

English Name : Indian Liquorice Root, Rosary pea, crab’s eyes, precatory pea, licorice vine

Origin : India, and perhaps other parts of tropical Asia


Abrus precatorius is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It has no special organs of attachment. It has a slender branch and a cylindrical wrinkled stem with a smooth-textured brown bark. Leaves are glabrous with long internodes. Leaves alternate petioled, 5-13 cm (2-5 in) long, even-pinnately compound with 5-15 pairs of leaflets, these oval to oblong, to 1.8 cm (<>Flowers are small and pale violet in colour with a short stalk, arranged in clusters. The ovary has a marginal placentation. The fruit, which is a pod, is flat, oblong and truncate- shaped with a sharp deflexed beak is about 3 to 4.5 cm long, 1.2 cm wide, and silky-textured. Each fruit contains from 3 to 5 oval-shaped seeds, about 0.6 cm.


Forests of India and most tropical parts of the world. In Puerto Rico, crab’s eye grows in subtropical moist (1000 to 2000 mm of precipitation), subtropical dry forest (below 1000 mm of precipitation), and the lower extreme of the subtropical wet forest type on all drainage classes except very poorly drained and on soils of all textures and parent materials. All types of topography are colonized from near sea level to 1,000 m in elevation (in India) (Parrotta 2001). Crab’s eye competes well with weeds and brush in abandoned farmland, disturbed areas, and early secondary forest.

Parts Used : Root, seed, leaf, plant and its aerial part

Herb Effects

Cytotoxic and anthelmintic (seed); antiestrogenic (root); stimulates the cardiovascular system (aerial part); Abortifacient (seed and root), anodyne, aphrodisiac, antimicrobial, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, febrifuge, hemostat, laxative, purgative, refrigerant, sedative, vermifuge, anti-fertility activity (Prakash & Mathur, 1976), antitumour activity.

Active Ingredients

Abrin, anthocyanin, campesterol, choline, cycloartenol, gallic acid, trigonelline (seed); precol, abrol, abrasine and precasine (root); delphinidin (plant); glycyrrhizin (leaf, root).

Medicinal Use

Cough, cold and colic (root decoction); as a nervine tonic, abortifacient, in stomach ulcers, skin maladies, diarrhea and dysentery (seed); in paralysis and sciatica (seed paste) and swellings (leaf juice), for inflammed eyes (leaves), seed paste is applied locally in sciatica, stiffness of shoulder joint and paralysis.


Paste(root): Administer 5 g as a single dose for abdominal tumour.
For cough: 5 g of paste (root) with pure ghee (made from cow's milk) thrice a day for four days.
For greying of hair: apply the juice (leaves and seeds on hair as oil once a day one hour before taking bath for 3-4 days.
For worm infection: grind the dry seeds of Abrus precatorius to make powder and take one teaspoonful of this powder once a day for two days.
For wounds: apply the paste (roots of Abrus precatorius with fresh rhizome of Curcuma longa) .


Abrin,a toxic protein obtained from the seeds of Abrus precatorius (jequirity bean), cause gastrointestinal toxicity.


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