Jatropha curcas

scientific name: 
Jatropha curcas L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Shrub or small tree, up to 5 m high, with sticky, milky or reddish latex.  Leaves broadly ovate, margins entire or shallowly 3-5-lobed, cordate at base, acute or acuminate at apex, 15cm x 13cm; cymes with or without peduncles; flowers unisexual, born at different times on the same inflorescence, petals green 6-7 mm long; capsule ellipsoid, 2.5-4 cm long; seeds blackish ca.2 cm long.


Rouzier,69,SOE Pimentel,1120,JBSD

sapito (mouth candidiasis):

  sap (latex), applied locally1-2

For mouth candidiasis:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

Do not use repeatedly. Repeated contact with the latex of many Euphorbiaceae results in allergy and in some cases with co-carcinogenicity.

According to published and other information:

Use for mouth candidiasis is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys and toxicity studies.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

Repeated contact with the latex of many Euphorbiaceae results in allergy and in some cases with co-carcinogenicity.

Do not ingest the seed due to toxicity risk.  In the event of poisoning from ingestion, seek medical attention.

TRAMIL Research20

The sap (latex) (100%) was instilled in the lower conjunctival sac of 9 rabbits, following the Draize eye toxicity method.  No macroscopic injuries were observed on the cornea or in the iris; a slight inflammation of the conjunctiva appeared 1 to 4 hours later in 4 rabbits, but disappeared before 24 hours had passed.

When applied (4, 6, 10 mL/kg) for 24 hours to the shaved skin of rabbits (Draize method), under observation for 14 days, low skin toxicity was detected at doses of 4 and 6 mL/kg, while at 10 mL/kg it was slightly irritant.

When applied to the penis and oral mucosa of rabbits (0.2 mL) (Draize method), the latex caused slight irritation.

Trabajo TRAMIL26 (will be translated in 3rd Edition)

La decocción al 50 % de hoja fresca, aplicación tópica (0,6 mL/6 cm2 de piel sana), a conejos albinos New Zealand, 3 machos (1.9 kg), modeloAcute Dermal IrritationOECD 404, se utilizaron 3 sitios y fueron separados en cajas de retención, al cabo de las 4 horas, se retiró el parche, las lecturas para eritema y edema se hicieron a 1, 24, 48 y 72 horas, no mostró ningún signo clínico por lo que se clasificó en la categoría no irritante.

The intraperitoneal administration to mice of the aqueous extract from the fresh seed (5 mg/kg) was followed by mortality in 3 days21.

The seed administered orally (1 g/kg/day) to goats caused hepatic congestion; the hepatic biopsy and the blood test displayed a reduction in glycogen content, alteration of hepatocytes and serious hematological alterations22.

Ingestion of the entire plant is said to be toxic for humans23.

The toxic effects of the seed are attributed to curcain and the resin-sterolic complex24.

There is no available information documenting the safety of use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

TRAMIL Research3

Preliminary phytochemical screening of the leaf:







phenolic compounds:






steroids, terpenoids:



The latex contains proteins:curcacycline4 and curcain (proteolytic enzyme)5.

The leaf contains cyanogenetic glycosides; tannins; triterpenes: a-amyrin; sterols: b-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol; flavonoids: vitexin, isovitexin6-8.

The leaf and bark contain steroidal sapogenins9.

The seed contains toxalbumin: curcin10; phorbols: 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol derivatives11.

The root contains diterpenes: curcusones A, B and C12-13.

Proximate analysis of the seed14: H2O: 6.6%; proteins: 18.2%; fats: 38%; carbohydrates: 33.5%; fiber: 15.5%; ash: 4.5%.

TRAMIL Research15

The latex – both pure and diluted in ethanol (1:10) – showed weak in vitro activity against Candida albicans and significant activity against Staphylococcus aureus.  It displayed no activity against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa orAspergillus niger.  The ethanolic extract (95%) from the dried leaf (5 and 50 mg/mL) had no activity against these microorganisms.

TRAMIL Research16

The latex showed no antimicrobial activity in vitro at a concentration of 1000 µg/mL against Staphylococcus aureus,Pseudomonas aeruginosa,Candida albicans,Klebsiella pneumoniae,Mycobacterium smegmatis, Salmonella gallinarum or Escherichia coli.

Trabajo TRAMIL25(will be translated in 3rd Edition)

La decocción de hoja fresca no mostró actividad antimicrobiana in vitro a una concentración de 1000 µg/mL contra Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Salmonella gallinarum ni Escherichia coli.

The latex inhibited the in vitro growth of Staphylococcus aureus17.

The aqueous extract from the aerial parts was active in vitro against Citomegalovirus (LC50 = 22 µg/mL) and Sindbisvirus (LC50 = 1-32 µg/mL)18.

The ethanolic extract (95%) from the aerial parts showed activity in vitro against Sindbisvirus (LC50 = 1 µg/mL)18.

The alcohol-acetone extract from the aerial parts showed antiviral activity in vitro against Citomegalovirus (LC50 = 7 µg/mL); Sindbisvirus (LC50 = 1-88 µg/mL) and against Microsporum canis (lower than 0.13 mg/mL)18.

The aqueous and ethanol-acetone extracts from the aerial parts (1 mg/disk) were inactive in vitro against strains of Candida albicans andSaccharomyces cerevisiae18.

The aqueous extract from the entire plant was inactive in vitro against Trichophyton gallinae, Mycrosporum gypseum, M. fulvum, M. canis and against the strains of bacteria Escherichia coli andStaphylococcus aureus18.

The alcohol-acetone extract from the aerial parts was inactive in vitro against Mycrosporum gypseum, M. fulvum, Trichophyton gallinae and against bacteria Escherichia coli andStaphylococcus aureus (1 mg/disk)18.

The acetone-aqueous extract from the entire plant was inactive in vitro against Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes18.

The chloroformic and ethanolic extracts (95%) from the leaf and stem, administered intraperitoneally (12.5 mg/kg and 25 mg/kg) to mice, reported antitumoral activity8.

The extract from the aerial parts was inactive againstArtemia salina18.

In a clinical study with 30 patients, latex was used to treat sole warts, compared to liquid nitrogen as control.  In the experimental group, an improvement was obtained in 11-20 days of application; however, improvement was faster with nitrogen.  The non-limiting side effects reported were: local desquamation, pigmentation changes and stinging sensation19.




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

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

3 WENIGER B, SAVARY H, DAGUIHL R, 1984 Tri phytochimique de plantes de la liste TRAMIL. Laboratoire de chimie des substances naturelles, Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université d'Etat d'Haïti, Port au Prince, Haïti. TRAMIL I, Port au Prince, Haïti, Fac. de Médecine/enda-caribe.

4 VAN DEN BERG A, HOARSTEN S, KETTENES-VAN-DEN BOSCH J, KROES B, BEUKELMAN C, LEEFLANG B, LABADIE R, 1995 Curcacycline A - a novel cyclic octapeptide isolated from the latex of Jatropha curcas L. Febs Lett 358(3):215-218.

5 NATH LK, DUTTA SK, 1991 Extraction and purification of curcain, a protease from the latex of Jatropha curcas Linn. J Pharm Pharmacol 43(2):111-114.

6 HEGNAUER R, 1973 Chemotaxonomy der Pflanzen. Basel & Stuttgart: Birkhauser Verlag. 6:882.

7 SUBRAMANIAN SS, NAGARAJAN S, SULOCHANA N, 1971 Flavonoids from some Euphorbiaceous plants. Phytochemistry 10:2548-2549.

8 HUFFORD C, OGUNTIMEIN B, 1978 Non-polar constituents of Jatropha curcas. Lloydia 41:161.

9 HUSSAIN H, DEENI Y, 1991 Plants in Kano ethomedicine; screening for antimicrobial activity and alkaloids. Int J Pharmacog 29(1):51-56.

10 STIRPE F, PESSION-BRIZZI A, LORENZONI E, STROCCHI P, MONTANARO L, SPERTI S, 1976 Studies on the proteins from seeds of Croton tiglium and of Jatropha curcas. Toxic properties and inhibition of protein synthesis in vitro. Biochem J 156:1.

11 HIROTA M, SUTTAJIT M, SUGURI H, ENDO Y, SHUDO K, WONGCHAI V, HECKER E, FUJIKI H, 1988 A new tumor promoter from the seed oil of Jatropha curcas L., an intramolecular diester of 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol. Cancer Res 48(20):5800-5804.

12 ROJANAPO W, PIMBUA J, GLINSUKON T, NAENGCHOMNONG W, THEBTARANONTH Y, 1987 Failure of diterpenes from Jatropha curcas to induce mutation in Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 58(3):397-400.

13 NAENGCHOMNONG W, THEBTARANONTH Y, WIRIYACHITRA P, OKAMOTO KT, CLARDY J, 1986 Isolation and structure determination of four novel diterpenes from Jatropha curcus. Tetrahedron Lett27(22):2439-2442.

14 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press, p90.

15 LE GRAND A, WONDERGEM PA, 1986 Activités antimicrobiennes et études bibliographiques de la toxicologie de dix plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe. Rapport TRAMIL. Dép. de Pharmacognosie, Universités de Groningen & Leyden, Hollande. TRAMIL II, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana, UASD/enda-caribe.

16 SOLIS PN, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, GUPTA MP, 2004 Estudio antimicrobiano de algunas plantas TRAMIL con usos en Martinica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

17 THOMASO O, 1989 Re-examination of the antimicrobial activities of Xylopia aethiopica, Carica papaya, Ocimun gratissimum andJatropha curcas. Fitoterapia 60(2):147-155.

18 MACRAE W, HUDSON J, TOWERS G, 1988 Studies on the pharmacological activity of Amazonian Euphorbiaceae. J Ethnopharmacol 22(2):143-172.

19 MARROQUIN E, Blanco JA, 1997 Clinical Trial of Jatropha curcas sap in the treatment of common warts. Fitoterapia 68(2):160-162.

20 HERRERA J, 1990 Determinación de actividades biológicas de vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de fitofarmacología, Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. TRAMIL V, Livingston, Guatemala, CONAPLAMED/enda-caribe.

21 ABDU-AGUYE I, SAMNUSI ALAFIYA T, BHUSNURMATH S, 1986 Acute toxicity studies with Jatropha curcas L. Human Toxicol 5(4):269-274.

22 CHONKEL A, 1985 A propos de quelques graines toxiques existant à la Guadeloupe (Thèse Pharmacie). Faculté de Pharmacie, Montpellier, France.

23 WEE Y, 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 MAMEESH MS, EL-HAKIM LM, HASSAN A, 1963 Reproductive failure in female rats fed with the fruit or seed of Jatropha curcas. Planta Med 11:98.

25 Olmedo D, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, VASQUEZ Y, Gupta MP, 2005 Ensayo antimicrobiano de algunas especies con usos significativos TRAMIL-Centroamérica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

26 LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BACALLAO Y, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2009 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de hoja fresca de Jatropha curcas L.Informe TRAMIL. Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, C. Habana, Cuba.


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.