This article is by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD.
Gunja seeds are poisonous whereas the other parts are safe whhen administered in their limited amount.
Botanical name: Abrus precatorious Linn.
Papilionaceae sub family of Leguminaceae family.
English name: Jeriquity, Wild liquorice, Indian licorice, Rosary pea, Weather plant, Paternoster pea etc.
Its seeds were used to measure the smallest units in ancient times and hence the word Ratti or Gunja (seed of Abrus, approximately 125 mg) is famous worldwide.
The plants are denoted in three varieties by their seed colors namely white, black and red.
The seeds under go pungent kind of bio transformation and hot potency. The seeds subside both Kapha and Vata Dosha; the seeds pacify all the three doshas.
The roots and leaves are also used in treatment; Seeds are used only only after purification.
The roots and leaves are sweet in taste and the seeds are bitter.Roots and leaves possess similar properties.
In the herbal market the roots of Abrus precatoroius are substituted for Liquorice (Yashtimadhu – Glyccirhiza glabra).
The seeds are reported to be contain abrine, hypaphorine, choline, trigonelline, precatorine etc. The scientists have isolated two anti cancerous principles from the seeds namely the Abrin A and Abrin B.
The roots contain precol, abrol, abrasine, precasine, cycloartenol, carpesterol, stigmasterol etc.
Read related: Gunja – Abrus precatorius Uses, Purification, Research, Side Effects
Few of the folklore and traditional uses of this drug are explained here below with their health benefits-
Leaf paste application over the petechial haemorrhages and inflammation:
Fresh leaves are taken and fine paste is made.This is applied over the petechial lesions and inflamed area.This helps to reduce both the complaints.
Dysuria, hoarseness of voice
Milk boiled with leaves in dysuria and hoarseness of voice:
Dry or wet leaves are taken a fist full and cooked with 1 cup of milk and 2 cup of water till the amount is reduced to 1 cup.This is administered once daily.This is effective in dysuria as well as hoarseness of the voice.
Cough, mouth ulcers
Chewing root powder for cough, throat irritation, mouth ulcers etc:
The root powder (1-2 gram) is taken and mixed with honey. This is taken by licking. It is effective in cough, throat irritation, rhinitis, nausea and mouth ulcers.
Medicated milk of root powder as sexual stimulant and aphrodisiac:
Regular administration of medicated milk of roots is a good tonic and rejuvinative. This is a good aphrodisiac also and envigorates the young adults.
Premature graying of hair, hairfall
Seed oil for premature greyness of the hair and hair fall:
10 gram of the seeds (powdered) are taken along with 100 ml of oil and soaked over night. To this equal amount of leaf juice is added and oil is cooked in mild intensity of heat. This oil is filtered on complete evaporation of water content.
Read related: Oral Ayurvedic Medicines For Hair Loss And Hair Growth
This oil is used to apply to the scalp daily or once in two days. It has significant benefit over the greyness of the hair and hair fall.
Purification of Gunja seeds:
Broken or pounded seeds are cooked with milk or Kanjika (a classical sour gruel) for three hours. By this it is purified.
A poisonous herb can also be a very good medicine. Also whole plant may not be poisonous and instead only few parts may be toxic and rest of the parts may be used safely. Even the toxic parts can be used safely by proper classical purification procedures. Scientific insight and thorough review of the usable parts of the plant will surely hide out the unexplored mysteries of such drugs.
Consult Dr Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD