Gundumani (Rosary Pea) Benefits, Medicinal Uses


Gundumani (Rosary Pea) is a herbaceous flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae. The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic because of the presence of abrin (natural poison). Ingestion of a single seed, well chewed, can be fatal to both adults and children.

Gundumani plant are chiefly native to India and tropical Asia. The scientific name of Rosary Pea is Abrus precatorius. Abrus precatorius is a climber plant, and its roots, leaves, and beans have been used for medicinal purposes in India from very ancient times.

The seeds are used as purgative, emetic, Tonic, and aphrodisiac.  The roots are emetic, and alexiteric. The seeds are poisonous, and used in Ayurveda only after proper detoxification. Raw seeds are never used as a medicine. Locally, the leaf juice mixed with oil is applied to painful swellings of the body. The root is also used as a substitute for Licorice.

The ingestion of seeds can kill. Abrin present in the seeds leads to disrupted cellular protein synthesis throughout the body. The symptoms are shown after a few hours of ingestion, and include significant vomiting, and diarrhea with resultant hypovolemia, and electrolyte disturbances.  There are a few reported cases of abrin causing acute demyelinating encephalitis. There is no known physiological antidote for gundumani. The treatment of gundumani poisoning is essentially symptomatic.

Detoxification of Rosary Pea

Raw seeds are not suitable for medicinal uses, as discussed above. The coarse powder of Rosary Peas (seeds) is taken in a cotton pouch (POTLI) and boiled in the cow’s milk for 3 to 6 hours.

The second method includes boiling the seeds in Kanji Water (Brown Rice Water) for 3 to 6 hours. Milk or Kanji used for detoxification should be discarded.

Boiling rosary peas in cow’s milk or Kanji Water reduces the toxic effects and make it usable for the medicinal purposes. Toxalbumins present in the rosary peas break down after heat treatment and dissolve into the milk or Kanji Water. Therefore, this process reduces toxic substances in rosary pea significantly.

The study also confirms the usability and effectiveness of ayurvedic detoxification process and found the absence of abrin band in detoxified rosary seed extract whereas non-detoxified extract contains abrin. 

Gundumani Benefits and Medicinal Uses

1. Leucoderma

Plumbago zeylanica (Chitrak) roots are mixed with Gundumani, and used in leucoderma. In white leprosy, a paste composed of gunja seed, and plumbago root is applied as a stimulant dressing.


2. Scorpion sting, and snakebite

Gundumani Root powder is taken orally along with cow’s milk to treat scorpion sting, and snakebite.


3. Contraceptive

In Tripura, as a folk remedy, the seeds are used contraceptive, and abortifacient. The ½ teaspoon pastes in tablet form twice a day in empty stomach for 3 days just after completion of the menstrual period is used as Contraceptive.

WARNING: This is for information. Do not TRY. This can be Lethal.


4. Sciatica, Stiffness of the shoulder joint, paralysis, and other nervous diseases

The seeds of Gundumani reduced to a paste are recommended to be applied topically in sciatica, the stiffness of the shoulder joint, paralysis, and other nervous diseases.


5. Paraplegia

Gunja Bhadra Rasa is an Ayurvedic formulation with other ingredients to be used internally for Paraplegia.


6. Gunja Bhadra Rasa

The seeds of Gundumani six parts, purified mercury three parts, purified sulfur twelve parts, neem seeds, Cannabis sativa leaves, and croton seeds, each one part is taken, rubbed together, and soaked for one day in each of the following fluids, namely, lemon juice, juice of the leaves of Cannabis sativa, of datura leaves, and of the leaves of Solarium nigrum (kakamachi). This medicine is given in doses of about eight grains, with rock salt, and asafetida in paraplegia.


7. Leucorrhea

Take the root part to be chewed. The root 5 gm is taken, and chewed twice a day. This is done for 3 days.


8. Urinary Trouble

The root part of the plant are dried, and powdered. 5 gm of this powder is taken with old gur twice a day for 5 days.


9. Rheumatism

Powder of leaf, and root is mixed with the stem bark of Crataeva adansonii, the stem of Coscinium fenestratum, Naravelia zeylanica, and seeds of Gundumani. The mixture is heated with castor, coconut, and gingelly oils, and applied externally on the affected places to treat rheumatism.


10. Gundumani for Hair

The efficacy studies on hair growth, and the antibacterial effect of the shodhita Gunja show the significant result in hair care.

Dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, prurigo (intensely itchy spots), and other skin diseases.

Safety and Side Effects

Toxic Effects of Non-detoxified Rosary Seeds

The use of non-detoxified seeds can result in severe toxic effects.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficult Breathing
  • Anuria (anuresis) – inability to urinate
  • Heart Failure
  • Shock
  • Respiratory failure
  • Fatal within 36 to 72 hours


Side Effects of Detoxified Rosary Pea

The detoxified rosary pea does not exert toxic effects like above when used less than 250 mg per day in divided doses and when taken with milk. However, the high dosage can still cause the following side effects:

  • Vertigo (severe reeling sensation)
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting


WARNING: The page is intended to give you information about this poisonous plant. DO NOT USE Abrus precatorius for Self-treatment. It can kill.

References : Link1 | Link2

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