Ricinus communis

scientific name: 
Ricinus communis L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Monecious, short-lived shrub or small tree, more than 5 m high with copious clear sap.  Leaves spiral, long-stalked, blades 60 cm. broad, peltate, palmately divided into 7 or more lobes; inflorescence terminal panicle to 20 cm long or more; male flowers clustered at the base of pedicels with white calyx ca, 9 mm long, female flowers at the top of pedicels with calyx deciduous; fruit a capsule oblong about 2.5 cm long, spiny prickles; seeds elliptic,10-17 mm long, mottled grey or brown.  

Voucher(s)

Faujour,10,BAR

Rouzier,70,SOE

Jiménez,47,JBSD

Longuefosse & Nossin,34,HAVPMC

headhache:

leaf, natural, mashed or crushed in oil, applied locally3,8,29

traumatism:

leaf mashed, applied locally7

toothache:

leaf, decoction, mouthwash and applied locally4

afección ganglionar:

seed oil, applied locally1

headhache:

seed oil, applied locally2

twist:

seed oil, applied locally5

traumatism:

seed oil, applied locally5

earache:

seed oil, instilled in ear4

asthma:

seed oil, rubbed on chest1

pneumopathy:

seed oil, rubbed on chest1

asthma:

seed oil, syrup, orally1

pneumopathy:

seed oil, syrup, orally1

asthma:

seed oil, orally4,6

pneumopathy:

seed oil, orally4,6

constipation:

seed oil, orally5,8

rheumatism:

warm leaf, applied locally1

twist:

leaf mashed, applied locally7

burning:

dried leaf, powdered, applied locally1

burning:

seed oil, applied locally1
 

rheumatism:

seed oil, friction1,30

For constipation: Take the seed oil - purchased in a pharmacy or authorized health center- at doses of: 1-3 spoonfuls (15-45 mL) for adults, 1-3 teaspoonfuls (5-15 mL) for children older than 2 years, and 1-5 mL for children younger than 2 years.  Take orally in a single dose away from meals.  Can be taken with milk, tea or fruit juice28. For other uses: There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than the documented traditional uses. Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.  

According to published and other information: Use for constipation is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies, scientific validation and available published scientific information. Uses for ganglionar disorder, headache, toothache, earache, pneumonia, asthma, burns, rheumatism, twisting and trauma are classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and, when the leaf is topically applied, based on toxicity studies. When the seed oil is taken orally, a single dose should be used. For topical application to burns, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.  Limit traditional use only to superficial burns (skin injuries) that are not extensive (covering less than 10% of body surface) and are located away from high risk areas such as face, hands, feet and genitals. Due to the health risks involved with pneumonia, asthma, earache and ganglionar disorder, an initial medical evaluation is recommended. The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment, unless it is contraindicated. Due to the possibility that an earache could signal a middle or inner ear infection, immediate medical evaluation is recommended.  Do not use if there are secretions from the ear and/or possible perforation of the eardrum. The seed can cause reactions of hypersensitivity. Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, the asthma persisting for more than 2 days, the headache and the twisting lasting more than 3 days or the pneumonia 5 days, seek medical attention. Only the oil that has been hand-made following traditional procedures, or the oil purchased in a pharmacy or authorized center should be used.  Industrially-produced ricin oil has not been subject to albumin detoxification through vaporization, and is a highly toxic product whose ingestion may lead to an imminently life-threatening situation.  

TRAMIL Research21-22 The crushed fresh seed21, the dried crushed leaf and the fresh crushed leaf22 were applied (0.6 g on a surface of approximately 6 square cm of skin) to three New Zealand albino rabbits with an average weight of 2 kg (males).  After 4 hours, the patch was removed and they were observed for erythema and edema readings at 24, 48 and 72 hours.  No clinical signs were observable (índice de 0.0); therefore this use is considered non-irritating. TRAMIL Research16 The aqueous extract and the seed oil on human fibroblast cell cultures evidenced high toxicity of the aqueous extract but not of the oil. The entire plant administered orally to human adults may cause general toxicity23-24. Poisoning with the seed depends on how many seeds are taken and whether they are chewed or not.  In any event, it is less serious than quoted in classical studies, with mortality being exceptional.  The most recent reports of toxicity from ricin ingestion are associated with the ingestion of 10-15 seeds that were chewed, the symptoms being vomiting and diarrhea.  Since the persistence of digestive disorders might entail dehydration, emergency medical treatment is required in the event a child is poisoned (evacuation of the toxic substance and maintenance of electrolyte balance)25. The old seed oil is particularly toxic if taken orally23.  Abuse of the seed oil orally may cause intestinal injuries, colic, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.  Prolonged use causes malabsorption syndrome entailing mortality risk26. The ricinoleic acid has spermicidal activity in vitro on human sperm14. Ricin is thermo-volatile, so it disappears during the process of preparation of ricin oil25. The seed externally applied may be allergenic to human27. There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.  

A steroidal sapogenin acetate has been found in the stem10. The leaf contains gallic, shikimic, ellagic, ferulic and p-coumaric acids, and flavonoids: rutin, quercitrin and isoquercitrin10. The seed contains 50% lipids (dihydroxystearic acid and triglycerides of ricinoleic acid), proteins, glucosides, ricin, ricinine, sterols, vitamins, enzymes (lipase, invertase and maltase) and squalene11-12. The seed contains a ricinallergen11-12. Proximate analysis of 100 g of dried leaf13: water: 0%; protein: 24.8%; fat: 5.4%; carbohydrate: 57.4%; fiber: 10.3%; ash: 12.4%; calcium: 2670 mg; phosphorus: 460 mg. Proximate analysis of the seed13: water 0%, protein: 26.2%; fat: 65.9%. The oil contains carbohydrates, tannins, phospholipids and hydrocarbons14. 100 mL of ricin oil contains15: - carotenoids (provitamina A): up to 200 mg - carotenes: up to 70 mg - tocopherols (vitamin E): up to 200 mg - fatty acids: up to 1000 mg, a part of which are polyunsaturated fatty acids (vitamin F) and another part of which are phospholipids (lecithins, cephalins and sphingomyelins). - esters15. Ricin is a toxalbumin of polypeptidic constitution, formed by two chains of amino-acids linked by a disulfide bridge.  Normally, it is not found in the oil obtained by pressure, and is modified by heat11-12. Ricinine is an alkaoid derivative from pyridone11-12.  

TRAMIL Research16 The aqueous and the ethanolic extracts from the leaf in MOLT-4 human splenocytes and fibroblasts (immunocompetent cells) induced a slight inhibition of tumoral growth after 48-72 hours with 250 µg/mL.  With less than 50 µg/mL and in the presence of concanavalin and lipopolysaccharides (immunostimulants), they caused synergic activity on splenocytes, with higher effects than the ethanolic extract.  The weight is stated in µg of dried plant.  Additionally, the ethanolic extract significantly stimulated phagocytosis, while the aqueous extract slightly inhibited it. The oil seed (as per the traditional extraction method) showed a slight inhibition of tumoral growth and discreet immunosuppressing effects, in the presence of immunostimulants previously added to the culture medium. The ethanolic extract (95%) from the dried leaf was active in vitro (5 mg/mL) against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus but inactive against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans17. The aqueous extract from the dried leaf was active in vitro (undiluted) against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella newport, S. typhi, Sarcina lutea, Shigella flexneri, Staphylococcus albus and S. aureus18. The aqueous extract from the dried aerial parts (5 g/kg) administered orally to rats caused diuretic activity, but had neither natriuretic nor salidiuretic effects19. Ricin oil contains ricinoleic acid, an irritating laxative that stimulates intestinal secretion and motility20.  

References:  

1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 JEAN-PIERRE L, 1988 TRAMIL survey. St Lucia national herbarium, Castries, St Lucia.

3 EDOUARD JA, 1992 Enquête TRAMIL. Lycée agricole, Baie-Mahault, Guadeloupe.

4 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

5 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

6 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

7 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

8 FAUJOUR A, MURREY D, CHELTENHAM-CORBIN B, CARRINGTON S, 2003 TRAMIL survey. enda-caribbean, IICA & UAG, Saint Thomas, Barbados.

9 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

10 HEGNAUER R, 1973 Chemotaxonomy der Pflanzen. Basel, Schweiz: Birkhauser Verlag.

11 CHONKEL A, 1985 A propos de quelques graines toxiques existant à la Guadeloupe. Thèse Pharmacie, Montpellier, France.

12 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

13 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants.Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p140.

14 DE SOUSA M, Matos ME, Matos FJ, MACHADO MI, CRAVEIRO AA,1991 Constituintes químicos ativos de plantas medicinais Brasileiras.Laboratorio de produtos naturais, Fortaleza, Brasil: Ceará Edições UFC.

15 TSUPRIENKOVA T, 1982 Patente de autor de champú para el lavado del cabello (título original en ruso). URSS, A61K 7/06(53).

16 WENIGER B, 1992 Activités biologiques (cytotoxicité, effet sur la croissance, effet immunomodulateur) de drogues végétales de la Caraïbe utilisées par voie locale contre les brûlures, dans des systèmes de cellules animales et humaines en culture. Faculté de Pharmacie, Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch, France. TRAMIL VI, Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, UAG/enda-caribe.

17 VERPOORTE R, DIHAL PP, 1987 Medicinal plants of Surinam IV. Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants. J Etnopharmacol 21(3):315-318.

18 MISAS CA, HERNANDEZ NM, ABRAHAM AM, 1979 Contribution to the biological evaluation of Cuban plants. I. Rev Cub Med Trop 31:5-12.

19 TANIRA MO, AGEEL AM, AL-SAID MS, 1989 A study on some Saudi medicinal plants used as diuretics in traditional medicine. Fitoterapia 60(5):443-447.

20 CECIL, RUSELL LA FAYETTE, 1987 Compendio de Medicina Interna. Madrid, España: Ed. Interamericana.

21 MARTINEZ MJ, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de semillas frescas peladas y machacadas de Ricinus communisL. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

22 MARTINEZ MJ, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2003 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de hoja seca y de hoja fresca de Ricinus communis L. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina “Dr. Salvador Allende”, Cerro, C. Habana, Cuba.

23 WEE YC, GOPALAKRISHNAKONE P, CHAN A, 1988 Poisonous plants in Singapore - a colour chart for identification with symptoms and signs of poisoning. Toxicon 26(1):47.

24 FERNANDO R, 1988 Plant poisoning in Sri Lanka. Toxicon 26(1):20.

25 CANIGUERAL S, 2003 Ricinus comunis. Vademecum de Fitoterapia, Editorial Masson, Barcelona, España, Jul.30,2003. URL: http://www.masson.es/book/fitoterapia.html

26 ALONSO J, 1998 Tratado de fitomedicina. Bases clínicas y farmacológicas. Buenos Aires, Argentina: ISIS ediciones SRL. p840.

27 KANERVA L, ESTLANDER T, JOLANKI R, 1990 Long-lasting contact urticaria from castor bean. J Amer Acad Dermatol 23(2):351-355.

28 PERIS JB, STUBING G, 2003 Ricinus comunis. Vademecum de Fitoterapia, Editorial Masson, Barcelona, España, Jul.30,2003. URL: http://www.masson.es/book/fitoterapia.html

29 BALZ E, BOYER A, BURAUD M, 2007 Enquête TRAMIL à Marie-Galante. U. Bordeaux 3, U. Paris XI Chatenay-Malabry, UAG, Guadeloupe.

30 BOYER A, BURAUD M, 2007 Enquête TRAMIL à La Désirade. U. Paris XI Chatenay-Malabry, UAG, Guadeloupe.

31 BOULOGNE Isabelle, 2008 Enquête TRAMIL à Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes, UAG, Guadeloupe (FWI).

DISCLAIMER

The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.