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October 2022

J Ethnopharmacol. 1979 Jan; 1(1): 3-21.

Jaborandi: an interdisciplinary appraisal.

Holmstedt B, Wassén SH, Schultes RE.

In spite of many references to Pilocarpus Jaborandi Holmes in ethnological and botanical sources and suggestions of its employment for a variety of diseases, it has not been possible to pin down the use of its leaves to any particular purpose amongst South American Indians. While the medically important jaborandis are species of Pilocarpus, it is true that this vernacular name is commonly applied to other rutaceous and numerous piperaceous plants as well. The introduction of jaborandi leaves to western medicine goes back to 1873, when Symphronio Coutinho went to Europe, taking with him samples of the leaves. The copious sweating and salivation brought about by the leaves attracted the attention of French physicians. Soon jaborandi leaves were being employed in the treatment of many diseases. In 1875, Hardy and Gerrard independently discovered the alkaloid pilocarpine. Most therapeutic applications of jaborandi leaves and pilocarpine fell into disuse and were discontinued. What remained was the use of the latter in ophthalmology, where it had been introduced as a miotic by Weber in 1876. The mixture of pilocarpine and another natural product, physostigmine, remains to this day one of the mainstays in ophthalmology.


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