Jatropha curcas L.

Physic nut, Purging nut

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According to Ochse (1980), "the young leaves may be safely eaten, steamed or stewed.". In <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />India, pounded leaves are applied near horses' eyes to repel flies. The oil has been used for illumination, soap, candles, adulteration of olive oil, and making Turkey red oil. Mexicans grow the shrub as a host for the lac insect. Ashes of the burned root are used as a salt substitute (Morton, 1981). Nuts can be strung on grass and burned like candlenuts (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Agaceta et al. (1981) conclude that it has strong molluscicidal activity. Bark used as a fish poison (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). In South Sudan, the seed as well as the fruit is used as a contraceptive (List and Horhammer, 1969–1979). Duke and Wain (1981) list it for homicide, piscicide, and raticide as well. Little, Woodbury, and Wadsworth (1974) list the species as a honey plant. The latex was strongly inhibitory to watermelon mosaic virus (Tewari and Shukla, 1982). Sap stains linen and can be used for marking (Mitchell and Rook, 1979).

Folk Medicine

Jatropha curcas is reported  to be abortifacient, anodyne, antiseptic, cicatrizant, depurative, diuretic, emetic, hemostat, lactagogue, narcotic, purgative, rubefacient, styptic, vermifuge, and vulnerary, physic nut is a folk remedy for alopecia, anasorca, ascites, burns, carbuncles, convulsions, cough, dermatitis, diarrhea, dropsy, dysentery, dyspepsia, eczema, erysipelas, fever, gonorrhea, hernia, incontinence, inflammation, jaundice, neuralgia, paralysis, parturition, pleurisy, pneumonia, rash, rheumatism, scabies, sciatica, sores, stomachache, syphilis, tetanus, thrush, tumors, ulcers, uterosis, whitlows, yaws, and yellow fever (Duke and Wain, 1981; List and Horhammer, 1969–1979). Latex applied topically to bee and wasp stings (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). According to Hartwell, the extracts are used in folk remedies for cancer. Colombians drink the leaf decoction for venereal disease (Morton, 1981).Mauritians massage ascitic limbs with the oil. Cameroon natives apply the leaf decoction in arthritis (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Bahamans drink the decoction for heartburn. Costa Ricans poultice leaves onto erysipelas and splenosis. Guatemalans place heated leaves on the breast as a lactagogue. Cubans apply the latex to toothache. Colombians and Costa Ricans apply the latex to burns, hemorrhoids, ringworm, and ulcers. Barbadians use the leaf tea for marasmus, Panamanians for jaundice. Venezuelans take the root decoction for dysentery (Morton, 1981). Leaves are regarded as antiparasitic, applied to scabies; rubefacient for paralysis, rheumatism; also applied to hard tumors (Hartwell, 1967–1971). Seeds are used also for dropsy, gout, paralysis, and skin ailments (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Latex used to dress sores and ulcers and inflamed tongues (Perry, 1980). Seed is viewed as aperient; the seed oil emetic, laxative, purgative, for skin ailments. Root is used in decoction as a mouthwash for bleeding gums and toothache. Otherwise used for eczema, ringworm, and scabies (Perry, 1980; Duke and Ayensu, 1984). We received a letter from the Medicial Research Center of the University of the West Indies shortly after the death of Jamacian singer Robert Morley, "I just want you to know that this is not because of Bob Morley's illness, why I am revealing this ... my dream was: this old lady came to me in my sleep with a dish in her hands; she handed the dish to me filled with some nuts. I said to her, "What were those?" She did not answer. I said to her, "PHYSIC NUTS." She said to me, "This is the cure for cancer." We found this Jamaican dream rather interesting. Four antitumor compounds, including jatropham and jatrophone, are reported from other species of Jatropha (Duke and Ayensu, 1984). Homeopathically used for cold sweats, colic, collapse, cramps, cyanosis, diarrhea, leg cramps.