African natives used the root of the colombo plant as an essential remedy for diarrhea and dysentery. When the Portuguese settled in Mozambique and Madagascar in the seventeenth century, they discovered the plant and carried it to Europe. At present, colombo is found in pharmacies worldwide as a component of several pharmaceutical preparations.
Colombo Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Jateorrhiza miersi Oliv., Menispermum palmatum Lam., Columbus cocolus Miers.
- French: Colombo.
- Spanish: Colombo.
- Environment: Native to the tropical regions of Eastern Africa, this plant is currently cultivated in South America.
- Description: Creeping, evergreen shrub of the Menispermaceae family, growing from two to five meters high, with a fleshy root of up to 7 cm in diameter.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The root, sliced and dried.
Healing Properties and Warning
The root of the colombo plant contains several alkaloids which chemically are similar to barberine (an alkaloid which is found in the barberry) and morphine; bitter components (colombine); and several inert substances (pectin, starch, and oxalate). It does not have tannin. Its properties are the following:
- Bitter invigorator, appetizer, and eupeptic (promotes digestion). It is used in recovery from weakening or infectious diseases and dyspepsia (lousy digestion).
- Antidiarrheic and intestinal antiseptic because of its alkaloid.
WARNING! When taken in high doses, it has toxic effects: nausea, vomiting, intestinal colic, and respiratory failure.
How to use Colombo
- Decoction with 10-15g of ground root (a spoonful) per cup of water. Boil from six to eight spoonfuls daily.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 446. Print.