Take a closer look at the bellyache bush

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Jatropha gossypiifolia

Jatropha gossypiifolia, commonly known as the bellyache bush is a shrub that grows in tropical and subtropical Africa and South America.   The name Jatropha comes from the Greek words for doctor and food, giving a good indication of the plant's traditional medicinal use.  In Brazil, the plant is considered to be so important that it was included in the 2009 Brazilian Public Health system list of important medicinal plants.   Every part of the plant is used but different parts contain different compounds with different pharmacological actions.  The whole plant contains coumarin lignoids and diterpenes.  The stems, roots and seeds also contain coumrain lignoids, but of different types.  Stems, leaves, flowers and shoots contain flavonids, lignans, phenols, steroids, tannins and triterpenoids.  The leaves also contain alkaloids and cardiac glycosides. The plant's richness in pharmacologically active substances probably explains why it is used to treat such a wide variety of health problems. It  is most commonly used to treat hypertension, as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic.  Other uses include antidiarrhoea, antithrombotic, antidiabetic, anticancer and anticonvulsant.   The Federal University of North Rio Grande (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte ) in Natal, Brazil, has published a new 32 page in depth review of the plant which covers it's use, phytochemistry pharmacology and toxicity. The review is a free Pubmed document and a must read for anyone interested in medicinal plants. Felix-Silva et al. Jatropha gossypiifolia L. a review of Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology of the this Medicinal Plant. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. June 2014.

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