Facts about Calumba – Jateorhiza palmata

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Calumba Quick Facts
Name: Calumba
Scientific Name: Jateorhiza palmata
Origin Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa
Colors Yellow
Shapes Globoid drupes enclosing a stone akin to the shape of a moon
Taste Bitter
Health benefits Beneficial for diarrhea, dysentery, gastric irritability, snakebites, hernia, ruptures, loss of appetite and anorexia nervosa
Calumba scientifically known as Jateorhiza palmata is a perennial climbing plant belonging to Menispermaceae (Moonseed family). The plant is native to tropical East Africa particularly Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa (Kwazulu-Natal). It is cultivated in Mozambique, and cultivated and locally naturalized in many tropical countries, including Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion and also in India and Brazil. It consists of isoquinoline alkaloids and is used mainly as a bitter tonic particularly in cases of anorexia nervosa. It contains no tannins, hence it can be safely used in iron preparations for the treatment of anemia without the fear of precipitation resulted from in vitro interaction. Bitter columba root, Calumbo, Colomba, Colomba root, Colombo, Colombo-root, Foreign colombo, Jateorhiza, Kalamba, Calumba, calumba root, columba, kalumba, kalumb, jateorhiza and guvercin koku otu are some of the popular common names of the plant.

Palmata means lobed like an open hand with outstretched fingers or hand-like. The name of this plant is with Latin and Greek base and suggests “root of medicinal virtues”. It has only two species: Jateorhiza palmate and Jateorhiza calumba all of them are collectively known as Calumba root, Jateorhiza is native of tropical areas of Southern and Eastern Africa including Malawi. Jateorhiza palmata is named after the Latin “palmata” that refers to its palmately lobed leaves. Basal lobes mostly overlap and the male inflorescence is smooth and Jateorhiza Calumba, The main difference from palmata is that the basal lobes of leaves are rounded but do not overlap and the male inflorescence is hispid.

Calumba Facts

Name Calumba
Scientific Name Jateorhiza palmata
Native Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa (Kwazulu-Natal). It is cultivated in Mozambique, and cultivated and locally naturalized in many tropical countries, including Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion and also in India and Brazil
Common Names Bitter columba root, Calumbo, Colomba, Colomba root, Colombo, Colombo-root, Foreign colombo, Jateorhiza, Kalamba, Calumba, calumba root, columba, kalumba, kalumb, jateorhiza, guvercin koku otu
Name in Other Languages Arabic: Sakel hamam
Catalan: Colombo
English: Jateorhiza, calumba root
Finnish: Kalumba
French: Racine de Colombo
German: Kalumba, Kalumbawurzel
Hindi: Kalamb-kachri, Kalamb-ki-jar
Hungarian: Kalumbagyökér
Japanese: Koronbo (コロンボ)
Persian: Bikle
Portuguese: Calumba, colomba, colombo-de-áfrica
Russian: Jatieoriza paĺčataja (Ятеориза пальчатая)
Swedish: Kalumba
Tamil: Kalamba veru
Plant Growth Habit Tall, dioecious twining climbing perennial vine
Growing Climates Rain-forest; fringing forest
Plant Size 2 – 5 meters long
Root Root of this herb has a starchy evenness, a hollowed center and a dense bark
Stem Annual stems, one or two from each root, are hair with glandular tips
Leaf Leaves appear opposite to each other and their petiole is approximately 18 cm to 25 cm in length. The leaf blades measure anything between 15 cm and 35 cm in length and 18 cm and 40 cm in width
Flower Cluster of flowers (inflorescences) of the male plant of the species is about 40 cm in length and possesses green sepals. The female inflorescence of calumba measures approximately 8 cm to 10 cm in length
Fruit Shape & Size Globoid drupes enclosing a stone akin to the shape of a moon. It is about 2.0 cm to 2.5 cm in length and approximately 1.5 cm to 2.cm in width.
Propagation By seed
Taste Bitter
Plant Parts Used Root
Available Forms Dried root pieces, Powder, Pills/tablets, Fresh

Plant Description

Calumba is a tall, dioecious twining climbing perennial vine that normally grows about 2 – 5 meters long often reaching the tops of trees. The plant is found growing in rain-forest as well as fringing forest. The diameter of calumba root is normally between 3 cm and 8 cm and it has a greenish-black hue. In addition, the root of this herb has a starchy evenness, a hollowed center and a dense bark. Crosswise, the roots have a yellowish color having circulatory bundles arranged in spreading out lines. The annual stems, one or two from each root, are hair with glandular tips and have large bright green membranous leaves.

Leaves

The leaves appear opposite to each other and their petiole is approximately 18 cm to 25 cm in length. The leaf blades measure anything between 15 cm and 35 cm in length and 18 cm and 40 cm in width. They have bristly hairs on both sides, are generally curved, profoundly heart-shaped (cordate) at the bottom and generally have five wide oval-shaped lobes each.

Flower

Calumba is a dioecious plant, representing that each plant has a separate sex. The cluster of flowers (inflorescences) of the male plant of the species are about 40 cm in length and possess green sepals that measure anything between 2.7 mm to 3.2 mm in length and 1.2 mm to 1.6 mm in width. The stamens of the male inflorescences are unbound, but merged at their base with the intricate margins of the petals. On the other hand, the female inflorescence of calumba measures approximately 8 cm to 10 cm in length and possesses a rust-red hued pubertal ovary measuring about 1.0 mm to 1.5 mm.

Fruits

Fertile flowers are followed by globoid drupes enclosing a stone akin to the shape of a moon. It is about 2.0 cm to 2.5 cm in length and approximately 1.5 cm to 2.cm in width.

Worldwide Ethno-medical Uses

Country Uses
Africa For diarrhea, dysentery
Brazil For diarrhea, poor digestion, dysentery, dyspepsia, nausea, and as a gastro-tonic, stomachic, bitter tonic
Elsewhere For diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, wounds, and as a tonic
Turkey As an antiseptic, aperitif, gastro-tonic, restorative, vermifuge and for dysentery

 

Traditional uses and benefits of Calumba

  • The tuber is gathered from the wild for local medicinal use.
  • It was especially valued as a treatment for digestive problems for people with a weak stomach in Europe.
  • It was used against dyspepsia and diarrhea, being considered especially suitable for people with a weak stomach.
  • Root is considered to be anthelmintic, antipyretic, bitter, tonic.
  • It is widely used as a treatment against diarrhea and dysentery, gastric irritability, vomiting during pregnancy.
  • Traditionally, it has been eaten as a treatment against snakebites, hernia and ruptures.
  • Root scrapings are applied onto scarifications made in abscesses to mature them.
  • Root is eaten against snakebites and as a vermifuge in Tanzania.
  • The Zigua people of Tanzania use it to treat hernia and ruptures.
  • Throughout south-eastern Africa the roots are considered tonic and are taken against dysentery and diarrhea, whereas in India they are taken as a bitter tonic with antipyretic and anthelmintic properties, against gastric irritability and vomiting during pregnancy.
  • In Europe Jateorhiza palmata is still used in laxative herbal mixtures.
  • In Italy and the United States the root has been added to herbal bitters.
  • Today it is still respected in Africa and India, especially for treating gastric disorders.
  • Root is used for poor digestion, low stomach acid, diarrhea, gas, and loss of appetite.
  • This medication is particularly used to cure loss of appetite as well as anorexia nervosa.
  • Calumba is particularly useful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome that is usually related to scarce production of stomach acids.
  • Calumba is an effective remedy for treating dysentery and in East Africa.
  • It has been traditionally used for this purpose as well as to force out worms from the body.
  • People in the United States and in Italy add the root of calumba to herbal bitters.

Precautions

  • Avoid use during breast feeding.
  • Calumba’s side effects include vomiting and stomach pain.
  • Calumba ought to be usually avoided by pregnant women; often small doses of this medication have been prescribed to such women with a view to alleviate morning sickness.
  • Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.
  • Taking this herb in excessive doses may result in symptoms of unconsciousness and paralysis.

References:

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=JAPA2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jateorhiza_palmata

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/IARPA

http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Jateorhiza+palmata

https://uses.plantnet-project.org/en/Jateorhiza_palmata_(PROTA)

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/tro-20600480

http://usefulplantsofboyaca.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:580974-1

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/calumb10.html

https://www.prota4u.org/database/protav8.asp?g=pe&p=Jateorhiza+palmata+(Lam.)+Miers

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q1722737

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