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Castor

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The castor plant botanically named as Ricinus communis, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It belongs to a monotypic genus, Ricinus, and subtribe, Ricininae. Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions. It is a fast-growing, suckering perennial shrub which can reach the size of a small tree. The glossy leaves are 15–45 centimetres long. The flowers are borne in terminal panicle-like inflorescences of green or, in some varieties, shades of red monoecious flowers without petals. The fruit is a spiny, greenish capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish mottling.
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Botanical Names
Ricinus communis
Indian Names
Bangla : Erando, Veranda Gujarati : Divel Hindi : Arandi Kannada : Haralenne Malayalam : Chittamankku, Avanakkanna Marathi : Errand Tamil : Aamanakku Telugu : Aavadam, Aamudalu
Chemical Constituents
Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. The seed contains ricin, a toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant. Chemical constituents of R. communis have been analyzed by GCMS and results stated the presence of few components. A total of seven compounds were identified. The castor oil was characterized by a high amount of monoterpenes including monoterpene hydrocarbons and oxygenated monoterpene. The main constituents were thujone and 1, 8-cineole. Additionally, in a considerable amount, pinene, camphor and camphene were also detected (1). Phytochemical screening of the leaves revealed the presence of tannins, phlobatannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, and cardiac glycosides which are the most important bioactive constituents of medicinal plants (2). The seeds of R. communis popularly called castor oil plant are biochemically composed of various macromolecules: the fat which of fixed oil comprising glycosides of ricinoleic, isoricinoleic, stearic and dihydroxy stearic acids. Also the seeds contain protein with carbohydrates, ash and moisture.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Ricinus communis commonly called as castor bean. Different parts of the Ricinus communis plant such as roots, leaves and seeds have been reported to possess several medicinal values. Its seed has antihelmintic, carthartic, emollient, laxative and purgative properties. A decoction of the leaves and roots of R. communis plant has antitussive, discutient (disperses tumors), and expectorant activities. The petroleum ether extract of roots of R. communis had an anti-inflammatory effect against carrageenin, serotonin and dextran, the efficacy of which was comparable to that of standard drug prototypes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (4). Alcoholic extract of the castor leaf has shown hepatoprotective activity in rats. Extracts of the leaves of Ricinus communis were also used in antimicrobial testing against pathogenic bacteria in rats and showed antimicrobial properties. The extract was not toxic. Pericarp of Castor bean showed CNS stimulant effects in mice at low doses. At lower doses, the extract improved memory consolidation. A water extract of the root bark showed analgesic activity in rats. Antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties found in ethanolic extract of Ricinus communis root bark (5). Castor oil is also very important for its medicinal value. It is generally recognized as safe and effective for over-the-counter use as a laxative, with its major site of action the small intestine. Undecylenic acid, a castor oil derivative, is also FDA-approved for use on skin disorders or skin problems. Ricinoleic acid is the main component of castor oil, and it exerts anti-inflammatory effects .
Health Benefits
The seeds of R. communis have several traditional applications. They have been used with arguable success in the treatment of warts, cold tumours, and indurations of the mammary glands, corns and moles. (3) Ricinus communis possesses free radical scavenging activity. Anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activities of the methanolic extract of Ricinus communis root was studied in albino rats. The observed pharmacological activity of this plant is may be due to the presence of phytochemicals like flavonoids, alkaloids and tannins present in the plant extract with various biological activites. Ricinus communis leaf extract also possesses antimicrobial activity against pathogenic organisms such as Pseudomonas aerugenosa. Oral administration of the leaf extracts of the herbs at the concentration tested is safe as they did not cause significant alteration in cellular activities of the experimental animals. (2) The Ricinus communis showed good activity against dermatophytic and pathogenic bacterial strains Streptococcus progenies, Staphylococcus aureus as well as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli. The antibacterial assay revealed that the petroleum ether and actone extracts of Ricinus communis possess good zone of inhibition where as ethanolic extract having anti bacterial activity only on higher concentration.
Research References
1. Adel K., Néji G., Mohamed D. and Radhouane G. Chemical composition and in vitro antioxidant properties of essential oil of Ricinus communis L. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 2011 5(8): 1466-1470 2. Oyewole O., Owoseni A. A. and Faboro E. O. Studies on medicinal and toxicological properties of Cajanus cajan, Ricinus communis and Thymus vulgaris leaf extracts Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 2010 4(19): 2004-2008 3. JOMBO J. T. A. and ENENEBEAKU M. N. O. ANTIBACTERIAL PROFILE OF FERMENTED SEED EXTRACTS OF RICINUS COMMUNIS: FINDINGS FROM A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences 2008 23 (1-2): 55-59 4. Yinusa R., Ahmed K. O. and Ayodele O. M. Effect of methanol extract of Ricinus communis seed on reproduction of male rats Asian J Androl 2006, 8 (1): 115–121 5. Raju I., Moni M. and Subramanian V. Ethnopharmacological communication Anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activity of Ricinus communis root extract Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2006, 103(3): 478-480 6. Celme V., Stefano E., Rocco C., Annalisa L., Carlo A. M. and Stefano M. Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation Mediators of Inflammation 2000, (9):223–228 7. Tajamul I., Hamid B., Smitha S., Ekta S., Burhan H., Babita R., Abishek G., Sushma A. and Manik S. ASSESSMENT OF ANTIBACTERIAL POTENTIAL OF LEAVES OF RICINUS COMMUNIS AGAINST PATHOGENIC AND DERMATOPHYTIC BACTERIA International Journal of Pharma. Research and development- Online (IJPRD). 8. MUHAMMAD R., MEI Y. H., MUHAMMAD A., MUHAMMAD H. B., LIANG G. AND JIANJUN L. IMPACT OF TWO MEDICINAL PLANT EXTRACTS ON GLUTATHIONE S-TRANSFERASE ACTIVITY IN THE BODY TISSUES OF SPODOPTERA EXIGUA (LEPIDOPTERA: NOCTUIDAE) Pak. J. Bot., 2010 42(6): 3971-3979 9. Chellaiah M., Muniappan A., Nagappan R. and Savarimuthu I. Medicinal plants used by traditional healers in Kancheepuram District of Tamil Nadu, India Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2006, 2(43):1-10