Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Jateorhiza calumba (MIERS)
Family: N.O. Menispermaceae

Synonyms: Cocculus Palmatus. Colombo.
Part Used: The dried root sliced transversely.
Habitat: Forests of Eastern Africa. Indigenous to Mozambique, where it is abundant in the forests.

Description: A dioecious climbing plant with a perennial root, consisting of several tuberous portions, flowers small and inconspicuous, the root is dug in dry weather, in March, but only the fusiform offsets are used; the old root is rejected and the brightest, least worm-eaten and well-shaped pieces are preferred. The root and powder, if kept any length of time, are liable to be attacked by worms; the colour of the freshly prepared powder is greenish, later on it turns brown and when moistened very dark; it quickly absorbs moisture from the air and is apt to decompose, so only a small quantity should be prepared at a time. Odour aromatic, taste very bitter, rind more so than the central pith, which is somewhat mucilaginous. It is rarely adulterated since the price has been lowered.

Constituents: Columbamine, Jateorhizine and Palmatine, three yellow crystalline alkaloids closely allied to berberine; also a colourless crystalline principle, Columbine, and an abundance of starch and mucilage.

Medicinal Action and Uses: A bitter tonic without astringency, does not produce nausea, headache, sickness or feverishness as other remedies of the same class. It is best given as a cold infusion; it is a most valuable agent for weakness of the digestive organs. In pulmonary consumption it is useful, as it never debilitates or purges the bowels. The natives of Mozambique use it for dysentery It allays the sickness of pregnancy and gastric irritation. In Africa and the East Indies it is cultivated for dyeing purposes.

Preparations: Calumba is generally combined with other tonics. For flatulence, 1/2 oz. of Calumba, 1/2 oz. of ginger 1 drachm of senna, added to 1 pint of boiling water, is taken three times daily in wineglassful doses.

Calumba can be safely combined with salts of iron and alkalies, as it does not contain tannic or gallic acid. The powdered root, 10 to 15 grains. The solid extract, 2 grains. The powdered extract, 2 grains. The fluid extract, 10 to 30 minims. The infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. The tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. The concentrated solution, B.P. 1/2 to 1 drachm.