Abrus precatorius L.
* Syst. nat. ed. 12, 2:472. 1767
Abrus precatorius, known commonly as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, John Crow Bead, Precatory bean, Indian Licorice, Akar Saga, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead in Trinidad & Tobago, is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is a legume with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves. It is also known as Gunja in Sanskrit and some Indian languages and Ratti in Hindi. The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic due to the presence of abrin. The plant is native to Indonesia and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. It has a tendency to become weedy and invasive where it has been introduced.
The toxin abrin is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin's entry into a cell by bonding to certain transport proteins on cell membranes, which then transport the toxin into the cell. Once inside the cell, the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of the ribosome. One molecule of abrin will inactivate up to 1,500 ribosomes per second. Symptoms are identical to those of ricin, except abrin is more toxic by almost two orders of magnitude; the fatal dose of abrin is approximately 75 times smaller than the fatal dose of ricin. Abrin can kill with a circulating amount of less than 3 micrograms.
Abrus precatorius, called kudri mani in Tamil and guru ginja in Telugu, has been used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The Tamil Siddhars knew about the toxic effects in plants and suggested various methods which is called "suththi seythal" or purification. This is done by boiling the seeds in milk and then drying them. The protein is denatured when subjected to high temperatures which removes it toxicity.[dubious – discuss]
The seeds of Abrus precatorius are much valued in native jewelry for their bright coloration. Most beans are black and red, suggesting a ladybug, and other colors are available. Jewelry-making with jequirity seeds is dangerous, and there have been cases of death by a finger-prick while boring the seeds for beadwork. However, it has long been a symbol of love in China, and its name in Chinese is xiang si dou (Chinese: 相思豆), or "mutual love bean". In Trinidad in the West Indies the brightly coloured seeds are strung into bracelets and worn around the wrist or ankle to ward off jumbies or evil spirits and "mal-yeux" - the evil eye. The Tamils use Abrus seeds of different colors. The red variety with black eye is the most common, but there are black, white and green varieties as well.
The Seeds of Abrus precatorius very similar in weight In Older times Indians used to measure using these seeds and the measure was called as Ratti this was used to generally measure gold and 1 Tola (11.6 Grams) = 12 Masha; 1 Masha = 8 Ratti
A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat fevers, coughs and colds. In Siddha medicine the white variety is used to prepare oil that is used as an aphrodisiac.
Abrus precatorius has different names in various Indian languages.
* Sanskrit : Gunja (गुंजा)
1. ^ Mendes (1986), p. 79.
* Mendes, John (1986). Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary. Arima, Trinidad.
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