- What other names is Calabar Bean known by?
- What is Calabar Bean?
- How does Calabar Bean work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Calabar Bean.
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).
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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.
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).
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.
Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011