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ShrubbySpecies Plant

Pilocarpus jaborandi

Pilocarpus jaborandi

The Jaborandi (Pilocarpus jaborandi Holmes, 1892) is a shrub species belonging to the Rutaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Sapindales Order,
Rutaceae family,
Genus Pilocarpus,
P. jaborandi species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Pilocarpus cearensis Rizzini;
– Pilocarpus officinalis Poehl.

Etymology –
The term Pilocarpus comes from the Greek πῖλος pilos felt, hat and from καρπός carpòs fruit: from the felty fruit.
The specific jaborandi epithet probably derives from the vernacular name of the species among the peoples of the growth area.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Jaborandi is a plant native to northeastern Brazil, in the states of Pernambuco and Ceará.
Its habitat a natural environment is very diversified, from green forests to scrubland and in temperate climates.

Description –
Pilocarpus jaborandi is a plant that grows in the form of an evergreen shrub or small tree branched from below. Its height varies on average from 3 to 7 meters.
The bark is gray or purple with large, odd spiked shoots with flattened petiole.
The large leaves grow three to seven meters high, in threes or fives, are oblong, membranous or leathery, deep green.
The flowers are purple-red, in elongated inflorescences, have five lanceolate petals.
The fruits are dry with 4-5 grains. They have an asymmetrical edge notched at the apex, with rather pronounced veins at the top.
They are greenish in color, have a bitter taste and chewing them produces an increase in salivation.

Cultivation –
Pilocarpus jaborandi is a plant that grows spontaneously but can be easily cultivated in its range or in environments with temperate-warm climates.
However, the plant was mainly harvested spontaneously and used in the traditional medicine of South America, where the natives used parts of it for various natural remedies.
Propagation is mostly by seed.

Customs and Traditions –
The drug extracted from this plant and other species of Pilocarpus, especially Pilocarpus pennatifolius, are distributed under the name of jaborandi.
Jaborandi leaves contain an alkaloid well known in medicine: pilocarpine.
This plant is historically well known as a medicinal plant in the pharmacopoeia of tropical forest plants.
It is a plant used in commercial medicine and herbal medicine.
Historically it has long been used in the traditional medicine of South America, where the natives have employed the plant as a natural remedy for epilepsy, seizures, gonorrhea, fever, flu, pneumonia, gastrointestinal inflammation, kidney disease, psoriasis, neurosis and as a remedy for promote sweating. Extensive modern research has confirmed the effectiveness of many of these treatments.
The leaves contain a number of medically active components, including several imidazole alkaloids (0.7-0.8%), which are derived from the amino acid histidine: pilocarpine, pilocarpidine, isopiocarpine; terpenes and tannic acid.
The alkaloid pilocarpine has been shown to be responsible for much of the plant’s biological activity, especially its ability to induce sweating and salivation, as well as lowering intraocular pressure in the eye (making it an effective treatment in some types of glaucoma).
This alkaloid was isolated from the plant and is now widely used in conventional medicine for the treatment of glaucoma and as an agent to cause eye pupil constriction (useful in some eye surgeries and procedures).
Pilocarpine is even used as a tool for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages; the ocular constriction response to the alkaloid was greater in Alzheimer’s patients than in controls. Pilocarpine tablets are also made and prescribed to cancer patients to treat dry mouth and throat caused by radiation therapy, as well as patients with Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease in which immune cells attack the glands that produce moisture causing dry mouth and eyes).
Another alkaloid in the leaf, jaborine, has been shown to counteract or diminish the effects of pilocarpine, meaning that one cannot simply relate the effective dosage of a leaf extract based solely on the pilocarpine content of the extract.
The leaves are considered anti-inflammatory, cardiac, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, galactagogue and sialagogue. In large doses they are emetic.
They also act as a stimulant of the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, bronchi, bile duct and bladder.
They have been used by herbalists to treat a variety of ailments including bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, diphtheria, colds and flu, laryngitis, kidney failure, hepatitis, diabetes, kidney disease, edema and fever.
In general the properties are, for internal use:
– sudorific;
– facilitate salivation;
– purgatives;
– emetic;
– parasympathomimetic (they oppose the exaggerated action of the sympathetic);
– diuretics.
For external use :
– alopecia.
Among other uses it should be noted that the leaves are used as a hair tonic which is believed to open the pores and cleanse the hair follicles, prevent hair loss and generally aid in hair manageability.
Among the contraindications, it is emphasized that pilocarpine and jaborandi can cause stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting and headaches if consumed without adequate guidance. In overdose, jaborandi has been reported to cause symptoms such as increased pulse, sweating, hot flashes, diarrhea, and constricted pupils. Heart patients or those with circulatory problems should not consume or use jaborandi.
Finally, it causes sweating and urination, so it can cause dehydration.

Method of Preparation –
The used parts of Pilocarpus jaborandi are the leaves and stems.
The leaves contain an essential oil that gives off an aromatic balsamic smell when crushed.
A cold infusion or maceration of the leaves induces sweating within 10 minutes: 9 to 15 ounces of sweat can be excreted from a single dose.
To use it, an infusion is obtained, using 2 teaspoons of chopped leaves per liter of water. 2 cups a day away from meals in the following ways:
– aqueous extract: from 0.50 to 1.25 g per day;
– alcoholic extract: from 0.25 to 0.75 g per day;
– 1/5 tincture, 2 to 5 g per day.
Pilocarpine is used both as eye drops in glaucoma and retinal detachment (1 or 2% eye drops).
The mother tincture can be applied to skin and hair. It can be mixed with hair oil (e.g. olive, sesame and coconut oil) and applied, for best results, mixed with arnica mother tincture. The mother tincture has a favorable influence on alopecia, and prolonged use restores the original color of gray hair. To prepare the mixture, proceed as follows:
– 1 part of mother tincture and 2/3 of oil.
This mixture is applied to the head regularly preferably every day 20-30 minutes before washing. A light friction on the scalp after application would facilitate better permeability.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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