May 5, 2016

Calabar Bean

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What other names is Calabar Bean known by?

Chop Nut, Esere Nut, Faba Calabarica, Fève de Calabar, Haba de Calabar, Haricot de l'Ordalie, Legume, Ordeal Bean, Physostigma, Physostigma venenosum.

What is Calabar Bean?

Calabar bean is a plant. The seed is extremely poisonous and is also used to make medicine.

Historically, African tribes used calabar bean, the "ordeal bean," to identify witches and people possessed by evil spirits. They believed that people who were able to eat the bean and live were innocent. Subjects of the "ordeal" could increase their chance of survival by not chewing the bean but, instead, swallowing it whole. Chewing releases the poisons in the bean. Ritual uses continue in Africa despite being outlawed.

As medicine, Calabar bean is used for eye problems, constipation, epilepsy, cholera, and tetanus.

Calabar bean is a source of the prescription drug physostigmine (Isopto Eserine, Antilirium).

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Eye problems.
  • Constipation.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Cholera.
  • Tetanus.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of calabar bean for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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