USES.—This species is not used medicinally in the Philippines, but in India is given for its diuretic effect and has great repute in the treatment of genito-urinary diseases, dropsy and gonorrhoea. The infusion of the leaves of P. Niruri with Fenugreek seeds is a highly prized remedy for chronic dysentery, mentioned by Ainslie. The leaves are bitter and tonic and in Bombay they are in common use in gonorrhoea to correct the acidity of the urine. Bruised and mixed with salt they make a sort of jelly frequently used as an application for itch; without salt the same is used for contusions.
The dose of the leaf juice of both species, for internal use, is 15 grams a day in divided doses.
A decoction of the entire plant well dried and powdered, is given for jaundice in doses of 5 grams a day.
The milky juice of the stem is useful in the local treatment of ulcers. The bruised root is employed in Concan for neuralgia.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—P. Niruri is an herb with straight stem. Leaves alternate, pinnate with stylet in place of the odd leaflet. Leaflets nearly oval, glabrous, 2 stipules at the base. Flowers monoecious, greenish, axillary; the staminate growing along the common petiole above the pistillate. Staminate: Calyx, 5 lanceolate, entire sepals; no corolla; 1 filament with 1 anther. Pistillate: Calyx and corolla as above; ovary free, 3 biovulate cells; style with 2 stigmabearing branches. Fruit capsular, globose.
P. urinaria may be distinguished by its sessile flowers and reddish stem.
HABITAT.—Very common in Manila and all over Luzon.
Jatropha Curcas, L.
NOM. VULG.—Tuba, Tag.; Kasla, Vis.; Tawatawa, Iloc. (Seeds called “English Physic Nuts” in India.) USES.—The milky juice of the trunk and branches is a drastic purgative, too active for safety as a physic. Mixed with water it is used as a wash for atonic ulcers.
The seeds yield 25–30 per cent. of a yellowish oil, more active than castor oil as a purgative but less certain. Ten or twelve of the former equal in effect 30 to 40 drops of the latter. Its density is 0.919, and it differs from castor oil in being only slightly soluble in absolute alcohol. In some parts of the Philippines it is used for purposes of illumination, and it is exported to Europe to adulterate soaps and candles. It contains a little stearin which begins to be deposited at 9° and is entirely solidified at 0°.
The fruit is strongly purgative, and this action is not due to the oil but to a peculiar resin so active that 3 fruits produce drastic effects. Whatever purgative action the oil possesses is due to the resin which it contains in solution. It seems, therefore, preferable to treat the seeds with alcohol, thus dissolving the resin, and use the tincture thus obtained in place of the oil.
The natives use the plant to intoxicate the fish in ponds and sluggish streams.
The seeds of the species J. multifida, L., also called tuba in Tag., and mana, are likewise purgative in their action. Dr. Waring saw a case of poisoning with the fruit; the patient, a young man, suffered violent vomiting, intense pain in the stomach and head, and marked prostration. He recovered under the use of lime juice and stimulants.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—The J. Curcas is a small tree growing as high as 9°.
Leaves alternate, cordate, glabrous, 3–5 cut-lobed. Flowers yellowish-green, monoecious, in terminal umbels, staminate and pistillate flowers mingled without order. Staminate: Calyx, 5 unequal sepals; corolla bell-shaped, 5 petals, woolly within, a small notch at the end, bent downward; stamens 10, in 2 whorls of 5.
Pistillate: Calyx and corolla as above; several tongue-like staminodes replace the stamens; ovary free, oblong, 3-celled, 1 ovule in each cell; style 3-branched.
Seed vessel fleshy, of 3 capsules, each bearing 1 oval, coriaceous seed.
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