In folk medicine, jequirity is taken by mouth to quicken labor, induce abortion, provide oral contraception, treat diabetes and kidney inflammation, and relieve pain in terminally ill patients. The whole plant has been used for eye inflammations.
Abrin, a constituent of jequirity (Abrus precatorius), is toxic, and ingestion of one bean by a child may be fatal. 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.
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.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
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, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, aphrodisiac, asthma, bleeding, blindness (night), blood thinner, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, colds, colic, contraceptive, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic, emetic (induces vomiting), epilepsy, expectorant (promotes coughing up of mucous), eye infections (pinkeye), fertility, fever, fractures (in animals), gastritis (inflamed stomach), gonorrhea (a sexually transmitted disease), headache, healthy hair (graying hair), high cholesterol, immune system regulation, insecticide, jaundice, laxative, leukemia, malaria, nephritis (kidney inflammation, chronic), pain relief, parasites (including single celled organisms, snails, slugs, and worms), rabies (prevention), rheumatism, sedative, seizures, skin care (skin softening), snakebite, sores, spermatorrhea (involuntary loss of semen without orgasm), tetanus, uterine tonic, vaginal discharge, vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin), wounds.
Jequirity has been traditionally taken by mouth as ground jequirity root paste, peeled or dried seeds, and ground seeds. Ground jequirity root has also been applied to the skin. However, there is no proven safe or effective dose for jequirity. Abrin, a constituent of jequirity seeds, is toxic, and its ingestion can cause death.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for jequirity in children. Abrin, a constituent of jequirity seeds, is toxic, and its ingestion can cause death.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to jequirity or related plants in the bean family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Jequirity may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders and in those taking any drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Jequirity may increase blood pressure. Caution is advised in people with high blood pressure and in those taking any drugs, herbs, or supplements that may affect blood pressure.
Jequirity may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking any drugs, herbs, or supplements that may affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously in people with sensitive skin, as jewelry made of the seeds may cause skin inflammation.
Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to jequirity or related plants in the bean family.
Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, in women trying to conceive, or in children.
Avoid use of jequirity seeds by mouth in all patients due to the toxic abrin content. Taking five milligrams of abrin by mouth is considered toxic to humans. Ingestion of jequirity seeds has many toxic side effects including circulatory collapse, coma, cramping, diarrhea (possibly bloody), edema (swelling due to excess fluid), elevated brain pressure, elevated liver enzymes, encephalitis (brain inflammation), intestinal lining erosion, lowered central nervous system activity, nausea, ruptured red blood cells, fast heart rate, vascular leak syndrome, vomiting, or possibly even death. Eye contact with the seeds' contents may cause eye infection. Jequirity may also cause dehydration, difficulty breathing, emphysema, kidney or liver damage, bleeding in the lungs, or reduced appetite.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Jequirity is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information. All people should avoid taking the seeds by mouth, as the toxin abrin is present in potentially lethal amounts in the seeds.
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, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Jequirity seeds may cause high blood pressure, and they may interact with agents that alter blood pressure, such as ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers.
Jequirity seeds may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Jequirity seeds may damage liver and kidney cells. Caution is advised when using medications that may affect the liver or kidneys.
Jequirity may also interact with agents that affect blood vessels, agents that affect the lungs, agents that affect the nervous system, agents that expel worms, agents that regulate the immune system, antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory agents, antimalarials, antiparasitics, anticancer agents, antivirals, fertility agents, gastrointestinal agents, and lipid-lowering agents.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
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 high blood pressure, and they may interact with herbs that alter blood pressure.
Jequirity seeds may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Jequirity seeds may damage liver and kidney cells. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may affect the liver or kidneys.
Jequirity may also interact with antibacterials, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antimalarials, antiparasitics, anticancer herbs and supplements, antivirals, fertility herbs and supplements, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that affect blood vessels, herbs and supplements that affect the lungs, herbs and supplements that affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that expel worms, herbs and supplements that lower lipid levels, herbs and supplements that regulate the immune system, and senna.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.