( Erythrina americana )
Pito, gasparito, madre mansa,
stage eye, tree of coral beads
Purgative, sedative, antibiotic,
expectorant, muscle relaxant
Colorin grows in the thorn forest
belt of Mexico and in rain forested regions of South America. It consists of
a medium sized tree with spiny projections and woody root-stocks. Because
the branches are easily rooted, Erythrina species are often used as
living fences. Colorin produces a bright red flower and a seed-bearing
fruit. It has a lovely tropical look, graceful in its straight line and
centrally located blooms. Aztec botanists described the plant as a "tree of
Colorin contains alkaloid
compounds, including eritrocoraloidine, eritroidine ( alfa and beta ), and
corialine. Over twenty-five other alkaloid compounds are known to exist in
other memebers of this family. Some of the alkaloids discovered include:
eritraline, erisopine, erisovine, dehydroerisodine, eritramine, ertratine
and erisonine. Some species contain isoflavonoids. The leaves and bark are
both alkaloid positive.
Traditional rain forest use
According to legends and folk
medicine, virtually every part of the colorin plant except its seeds
were medicinally applied. Its flowers were used as expectorants for chest
coughs and congestion, and its roots and leaves were used for a variety of
ills. The seeds of this plant have always been considered poisonous. One of
the earliest records documenting the medicinal use of this plant can be
found in the Farmacopea mexicana of 1874.
The Tikunas boil the bark for
bathing wounds. They also use the reddish-brown decoction directly on aching
limbs. Teas and baths are prescribed for malaria. Root decoctions are
believed to be antirheumatic and are also used in treating liver aliments.
Modern medicinal applications
Certain alkaloids found in this
plant are able to produce paralysis of the skeletal muscles when
administered by injection. This effect can be valuable during a number of
surgical procedures which necessitate complete muscle relaxation. At this
writing, these relaxing compounds are utilized during surgery to augment
anesthesia. In other words, these specific alkaloids can decrease the amount
of anesthesia needed. Colorin is a rain forest plant that is rich in
bioactive alkaloids which have significant pharmaceutical potential.
Eritrocoraloidine and corialine are the alkaloids deemed responsible for its
muscle relaxant properties.
Research on the ability of the
phytomedicinal compounds found in colorin to relax muscle by blocking
ganglion connections is ongoing.
No information available