Native Mexicans used the jalap plant as a purgative, and Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Spain, after which it was spread all over Europe.
Healing Properties and Warning
The jalap root contains several carbohydrates and two glycosides: jalapine and convolvuline, which are its active components. It has an intense purgative action, which is well tolerated and does not cause colic in low doses. Jalap is recommended when drastic action has to be exerted on the intestine. Not having a bad taste, it also has vermifuge and emmenagogue (stimulates menstruation) properties.
WARNING! Never take this plant for colitis (inflammation of the intestine), nor during pregnancy.
Another jalap species called four o’clock, or marvel of Peru, grows in Central America. This one has been naturalized to Europe. Its root has purgative properties, like those of the jalap, and the usual dose is 2-4 g of root powder.
Jalap Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific synonym: Convolvulus Jalapa L.
- French: Jalape.
- Spanish: Jalapa.
- Environment: Native to Mexico, and more specifically to Veracruz, it takes its name from the capital city of this Mexican state: Jalapa Enriquez. It does not grow in Europe.
- Description: Climbing plant of the Convolvulaceae family, whose stem grows sticking and twisted to other plants. It has large flowers which grow from the leaves axiles and are red or pink. The root is a round tuber filled with a milky, resinous juice.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The root.
How to use Jalap
- Root powder. The recommended dose is 1-2 g dissolved in half a glass of hot water, sweetened with 1-2 spoonfuls of brown sugar or honey. The dosage for children is 50 mg (0.05 g) per each kg of weight.
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. 499. Print.[jalap plant]