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Colorin

( Erythrina americana )

 

Family

Leguminosae

 

Synonyms

Pito, gasparito, madre mansa, stage eye, tree of coral beads

 

Character

Purgative, sedative, antibiotic, expectorant, muscle relaxant

 

Description

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 coral beads."

 

Phytochemistry

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.

 

Authentication

Research on the ability of the phytomedicinal compounds found in colorin to relax muscle by blocking ganglion connections is ongoing.

 

Safety

No information available

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