Cocculus palmatus (Lam.) DC.
Jateorhiza columba (Roxb.) Oliv.
Jateorhiza miersii Oliv.
Menispermum columba Roxb.
Menispermum palmatum Lam.
Common Name: Calumba
Calumba is a dioecious, climbing shrub producing usually perennial woody stems from 2 - 5 metres long from a tuberous rootstock[
]. In some areas, such as Mozambique, the stems can be annual[
]. The tuber is gathered from the wild for local medicinal use[
The plant has a long history of traditional medicinal use, and became very popular in Europe, where it was especially valued as a treatment for digestive problems for people with a weak stomach[
]. Its importance in the West has dwindled considerably, but it is still sold there and used in proprietary herbal mixes[
]. The plant is cultivated in several countries as a medicinal plant[
Eastern tropical Africa - Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Rain-forest; fringing forest; from sea level to elevations of 1,500 metres[
The root is the source of the formerly popular medicine 'radix calumbae' that was imported into Europe from Mozambique and Tanzania[
]. It was used against dyspepsia and diarrhoea, being considered especially suitable for people with a weak stomach[
]. The plant is still used in laxative herbal mixtures in Europe, and in herbal bitters in Italy and the United States[
The succulent roots contain a number of medically active substances including the diterpenoid furanolactones columbin, palmarin and chasmanthin and several related glycosides including palmatosides A,G, and the protoberberine alkaloids palmatine, jatrorrhizine, bisjatrorrhizine and columbamine. They also contain traces of the sapogenins diosgenin and kryptogenin[
They also contain about 1% of a greenish essential oil, consisting mainly of thymol, with a fragrance reminiscent of hay - older roots contain very little of the oil[
The roots are rich in starch[
Columbin has been shown to suppress the induction of adenocarcinomas in the colon by administration of the carcinogen azoxymethane. Columbin shortened the sleeping time induced by a urethane and α-chloralose mixture, but prolonged the sleeping time induced by hexobarbital. This may be explained by an effect of columbin on drug metabolizing enzymes in the liver[
A methanol extract obtained from the rhizome inhibited the growth in vitro of a range of fungi tested[
The root is considered to be anthelmintic, antipyretic, bitter, tonic[
]. It is widely used as a treatment against diarrhoea and dysentery; gastric irritability; vomiting during pregnancy[
]. Traditionally, it has been eaten as a treatment against snakebites, hernia and ruptures[
The root scrapings are applied onto scarifications made in abscesses to mature them[
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.