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...

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).

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How does Calabar Bean work?

Calabar bean contains a chemical that affects signals between muscles and nerves. This chemical affects many parts of the body.

Are there safety concerns?

Calabar bean is UNSAFE. It is extremely toxic.

Calabar bean can cause excessive saliva and sweating, reduced eye pupil size, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, blood pressure changes, confusion, seizures, coma, severe muscle weakness, paralysis, severe breathing problems, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

While calabar bean isn't safe for anyone, some people are at even greater risk for serious side effects. Be especially careful to avoid calabar bean if:

You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
You have Parkinson's disease.
You have heart disease or slow heartbeat.
You have asthma.
You have diabetes.
You have poor blood circulation leading to tissue death (gangrene).
You have blockage of the intestinal tract.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calabar bean contains chemicals that can affect the brain and heart. Some of these drying medications called anticholinergic drugs can also affect the brain and heart. But calabar bean works differently than drying medications. Calabar bean might decrease the effects of drying medications.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).

Dosing considerations for Calabar Bean.

The appropriate dose of calabar bean depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for calabar bean. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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