Abrus Precatorius Linn
Botanical Name: Abrus Precatorius Linn
Sanskrit Name: Gunja
Family Name: Fabaceaea
Vernacular names :
- Hindi – gamanchi
- Telugu –Guruvinda
- Malayalam –Kunni
- Tamil –
- English – Abrus or Indian liquorice root
- Marathi name – Gunj, Gunja
7.Bengali name – Kunch, Koonch, Chunhali
- Gujarathi name – Chanoti, Gumchi, Chanothi
- Punjabi name – Mulati
- Urdu name – Ghunchi
- Kasmiri name – Shangir
- Persian name – Gunchi, Chashami, Khurosa
Chudamani, Kakanantika, Kakasahvaya, Bhillibhushani, Shikhandika, Sheetapaki, Ghughanta, Rati, Krushnala – Seeds have black spot, Raktika, Tamra, Tamrika – coppery red colored seeds
ShwetaGunja – white variety synonyms:
Shwetapaki, Chudala, Kakapeelika, Durmaayaa, Chakripa, Chuda, Chakrashalya, Chirantika, ShwetaKambhoji, Bhiratika, Kakadani, Kakapeelu
In classical texts:
Sushruta – MoolaVisha
KaiyadevaNighantu – OshadhiVarga
DhanvantariNighantu – KaraveeradiVarga
Bhavaprakasha – GuduchyadiVarga, Upavisha
Rajanighantu – GuduchyadiVarga
It is a perennial climber bearing pink to purplist white flowers. It is found throughout India.
Susruta mentioned it under Mula Visa (root poisons). Thakur BalvantSingh quotes that either Abruspulchellurn Wall. (having black or light brown seeds) and Cardiospermumhalicabacum Linn. as the two possible sources in the context of Gunja as Mulavisa. KrisnaGunja is the synonym of the later plant.
Bhavurnisradescribed Sweta and Rakta varieties of Gunja and included it under Upavisas.
SwetaGunjia – White variety
RajtaGunja – Red variety
Root- Precol, abrol and two alkaloids (abrasine&precasine)
Seeds- abrine, hypaphorine, trigonellinc, precaiorine, abriclin
Leaves – abrine, trigonelline, abruslactoneA, hemiphloin, abrusoside A, B, C and D, xylose, choline, hypaphorine, precatorine, glycyrrhizin
Rasa –tikta, kashaya
Guna –laghu, ruksha
Virya – usna
Karma –kapha- vatahara, kesya
Indralupta, Timira, Kustha, Kandu, Krimi; leaf – Mukhapaka, Urusthambha, Amavata, Kasa, Indralupta, Graharoga, Kandu , Kushta, Vrana, Krumi, Shosha, , Shwasa,Trushna, Mada , Gunjamoola , Shoolaghna, Vishahara
Root , leaf
Root and leaf powder 1-3 g, seed powder 60-170mg
- Darunaka- Oil prepared with Gunja seeds and Bhringaraja juice is applied over the scalp
- Krimidanta- Root of Gunja may be chewed to releive pain
- Visarpa- Leaf paste is applied externally
- Kamoddeepana – Aprhodisiac, increases sexual strength
- Shukrajanana – promotes sperm production
- Ruchya – improves taste, useful in anorexia
- Vishahara – anti toxic
- Vrushya – aphrodisiac
- Vranahara – speeds up wound healing
- Chakshushya – useful in improving eye sight
- Keshya – improves quality of hair
- Tvachya – improves skin quality, useful in skin diseases
- Ruchya – improves taste, useful in anorexia
- Balaprada – improves strength and immunity
GunjadiTailam, Gunjabhadra rasa
- External application
Purified Gunja seed powder is made paste with water, applied externally to relieve joint pains, swelling, sciatica pain, cervicalspondylosis related pain. This paste is applied over hairless patches of alopecia areata to regrow hair.
- Abrus Precatorius seed used as simile:
The color of red gunja is used as standard to explain normal color of blood and also normal menstrual flow. – CharakaSutrasthana 24/22
The color of skin lesions in KakanaKushta – one among seven major types of skin disorders turns to red like abrus seeds. Reference: CharakaChikitsa 7
Gunja – usage in weights .Gunja seeds are used as an important unit of measurement. 1 Gunja seed is considered as 125 mg of weight.
Research and studies
- Alcoholic extract of seeds showed pararasympathominetic effect on smooth muscle of guinea pig and rabbit, skeletal muscle of frog (J.Res.Indi. Med. 1971,6,139).
- Aqueous extract of seeds showed anthelmintic activity which was absent in extract prepared by boiling seeds in water (J.Res.Ind.Med.1975, 10, 138)
- LDof abrin A and B in mice is found to be 10 and 15 µg/50kg respectively. Both fractions showedanti tumor activity against Ehrlich ascites tumor cells (Int. J. Pept. Protein Res. 1978, 12, 311).
- Seed extract (l.Omg/ml/day) showed antispermatogenic activity in rat (Ind.Med.J.1987,81,157).
- Powdered seeds are said to disturb the uterine functions and prevent conception in women. Petroleum ether extract of the seeds showed anti-fertility activity in rats. The aqueous extract adversely influenced pregnancy and development of the foetus in mice. The oily steroidal fraction (separated from the seeds), when fed orally for twenty consecutive days before mating, showed antifertility activity on albino rats and Swiss mice. Injection of a single dose of this fraction in the post-coital period produced 80 per cent sterility in rats (Kirtikar&Basu, I,765; Prakash&Mathur, Indian J expBiol, 1976, 14, 623; Desai &Sirsi, CurrSci, 1964, 33, 585; Desai &Rupawala, loc. cit.).
- The colouring matter of the seed coat contains a monoglucosideanthocyanin, abranin. Other anthocyanin:s identified are delphinidin-3,5-diglucoside; pelargonidin- 3,5-diglucoside; pelargonidin- 3-glucoside; and cyanidin-3-glucoside. The presence of gallic acid is also reported (Krishnamoorthy&Seshadri, J sciindustr Res, 1962, 21B, 591; ChemAbstr, 1961, 55, 17770; BiolAbstr, 1972,53,4766).
- The amino acids present in the seedsare (g/16g N): aspartic, 10.60; threonine, 3.87; glycine, 1.28; valine, 5.95; methionine, 1.11; leucine, 7.20; tyrosine, 5.15; arginine,15.77; phenylalanine, 6.80; lysine, 3.13; and histidine, 2.77 (ChemAbstr, 1969, 70, 26371; Riaz& Khan, Pakist J sciRes, 1964, 16, 99).
- The small shining seeds (rail) have been used as weights by Indian goldsmiths since ancient times. These are alsoused in necklaces and other ornamental articles. The plant is said to yield a usefulfibre (Mehra et al, Econ Bot, 1975, 29, 39; Gunn, Gdn J, NY, 1969, 19, Rama Rao, 117).
- Aifruticulosus Wall. ex Wight &Am. syn. A. pulchellusWall.; A./aevigatus E. Mey. is a climber or a diffuse creeping, fastigiate or straggling shrub, found throughout India. It is used for the same medicinal purposes as A. precatorius (Burkill, I, 9; Uphof, 2; Irvine; 1961, 360; Breteler, B/umea, 1960, IO, 607).
- The leaves have a sweetish taste. They are often eaten raw, used as vegetable, or eaten with betel leaf. The leaves contain glycyrrhizin (9.6%;), a saturated alcohol (C30H620, mp 88°), a crystalline compound [C1sH260s,mp 280° (decomp.)J, and pinitol. A decoction of the leaves is widely used for cough, cold and colic. When liquorice is not available, the leaves constitute a ready substitute. The leaf juice is employed as a cure for hoarseness, and mixed with oil it is applied to painful swellings. The leaves are also considered useful in biliousness and in leucoderma, itching and other skin diseases (Dastur, Medicinal Plants, 2; Fl Delhi, 126; Chopra et al, 1958, 261; ChemAbstr, 1967, 66, 83099; Philipp PharmacolAbstr, 1961, No. 2, 16; Chakravarthy, Science, 1969, 166, 44).
- The seeds are poisonous. The bruised seeds have been used for poisoning cattle, for homicidal purposes, and as abortifacient, In the indigenous system of medicine, the seed extract is used externally in the treatment of ulcers and skin affections. The seeds are administered internally in the affections of the nervous system, and their paste is applied locally in sciatica, ‘stiffness of shoulder joint and paralysis. They are said to be useful in diarrhoea and dysentery, and possess anthelmintic activity. Ethanolic extract of the seeds inhibited the growth of Micrococcus pyogenes Lehmann &Newmann var. .aureusRucker, enteric and dysenteric group of micro-organisms, several other bacteria and some pathogenic fungi [Kirtikar&Basu, I, 765; Desai &Sirsi, Indian J Pharm, 1966, 28, 164; Basu, ibid, 1973, 35, 203; Singh et al, J Res Indian Med,1974, 9(2), 65].
- The chief poisonous constituent of the seeds is abrin, a toxalbuminsimilar to ricin of castor seed. Abrin is a powerful irritant and produces oedema and ecchymosis at the site of inoculation. It has been resolved into a globulin and an albuminose, both of which are poisonous and are inactivated by heat. A haemagglutin and a glucosideabralin are also reported. In addition, the seeds contain the alkaloidsjbases, abrine [C12H1402N2, mp295° (decomp.)] hypaphorine, choline, trigonelline, precatorine(C14H 11N06, mp 218-20 ), and methyl ester of N,N-dimethyltryptophanmethocation [mp, 272° (decornp.I]. Abrine is the major alkaloid. The leaves, stems and roots.
Side effects and antidote
- As per Drugs and Cosmetics ACt, Gunja is a Schedule E1 classified herb. This means, the oral Ayurvedic medicines containing Gunja can only be taken under strict medical supervision.
- If not purified properly or if used in excess dosage than prescribed, it can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea.
- Unpurified seed powder used over wounds or direct contact with blood can also produce toxic effects.
- Roots – if used in excess dose can cause vomiting
- It is best to avoid Gunja or medicines containing it during pregnancy, lactation and in children below 5 years of age.
There is no specific antidote for abrin poisoning, and treatment is mainly supportive with intravenous fluids and correction of electrolyte abnormalities.