Gunja: Abrus precatorius Linn
Latin Name: Abrus precatorius Linn.
Family: Papilionaceae, Fabaceae
Habitat: throughout the country, ascending to an altitude of about 1,050m in the outer Himalayas.
English: Indian Wild Liquorice, Jequirity, Crab’s Eye, Precatory Bean.
Ayurvedic: Gunja, Gunjaka, Chirihintikaa, Raktikaa, Chirmiti, Kakanti, Kabjaka, Tiktikaa, Kaakananti, Kaakchinchi. (Not to be used as aa substitute for liquorice.)
Unani: Ghunghchi, Ghamchi.
Folk: Chirmiti, Ratti.
Action: Uterine stimulant, abortifacient, toxic. Seeds – teratogenic. A paste of seeds is applied on vitiligo patches.
Along with other therapeutic applications, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India has indicated the use of seeds in baldness.
Seeds contain abrin, a toxalbumin, indole derivatives, anthocyanins, sterols, terpenes. Abrin causes agglutination of erythrocytes, haemolysis and enlargement of lymph glands. A non – toxic dose of abrin (1.25 mcg/kg body weight), isolated from the seeds of red var., exhibited a noticeable increase in antibody – forming cells, bone marrow cellularity and alpha – esterase – positive bone marrow cells.
Oral administration of agglutinins, isolated from the seeds, is useful in the treatment of hepatitis and AIDS.
The seed extract exhibited antischistosomal activity in male hamsters.
The methanolic extract of seeds inhibited the motility of human spermatozoa.
The roots contain precol, abrol, glycyrrhizin (1.5%) and alkaloids – abrasine and precasine. The roots also contain triterpenoids –
abruslactone A, methyl abrusgenate and abrusgenic acid.
Alkaloids/bases present in the roots are also present in leaves and stems.
Dosage: Detoxified seed: 1 – 3 g powder. Root powder: 3 – 6 g. (API Vols. I and II)