Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Hura brasiliensis

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The acrid principle of Hura has been named hurin. It is a crystallizable body obtained by precipitating with water an alcoholic extract of the evaporated milky juice, and dissolving the resinous matter in ether. When heated it volatilizes in acrid vapors. Nitrates and malates are likewise present. The seed integuments contain tannin, gallic acid, and coloring substance, while the kernel yields albumen, solid fatty matter, salts, and a purgative fixed oil, which alcohol dissolves. The Brazilians use it as a remedy for elephantiasis or leprosy. Even the decoction may vesicate. It is powerfully irritant to the gastro-intestinal tract, producing violent emeto-cathartic effects. It is probably ineffectual, though mitigation of the disease, but not a cure, is reported from its use

Constituents:  Hura crepitans: Inositol. Cycloartenol. Ferulic acid. Huratoxin. Kaempferol. P-Coumaric acid. (USDA).

Toxicology:  The milky juice called Assacu by the Brazilians of Hura is as powerful as that of the better-known Euphorbians. (Murphy’s Homeopathic Remedy Guide).

- The principal irritant is a diaphnane derivative, huratoxin, isolated by Sabata  et al. in 1971. Hura brasiliensis was one of the first toxic trees to be thoroughly chemically analyzed. ( BoDD )
Ligon, in 1673, wrote “The fellers, as they cut them down, are very careful of their eyes; and those that have cipers ( handkerchiefs ) put it over their faces; for if any of the sap fly into their eyes, they become blind for a month.”
The seeds of the tree are known in Mexico as the Pepita de San Ignacio, and act as a violent cathartic. Both juice and seeds produce violent vomiting and diarrhoea.
The acrid sap, on contact with the skin of the hands , results in swelling of hands and fingers.
The sap contains two lectins which act as haemoagglutinates.Segments of the woody fruit, when made into bracelets produce a contact dermatitis.
In sawmills, wood of the tree imported into Europe, has caused dematitis from contact with the sawdust. The sawdust also causes respiratory irritation.

Modern use - Although the sap was used in the past for elephantiasis and leprosy, itís use nowadays is as a timber product in carpentry, boxes and crates veneers and plywood, furniture, fibreboard and particle board, due to its qualities of easy cutting and planing.
The dried seed cases, when cut into thin sections and polished, are used for earrings, ì dolphin ì earrings, as they look like dolphins poised in jumping from the water.
The sap is a very effective insecticide.

 Hautarzt. 2002 Mar;53(3):192-5.
[Allergic reaction after contact with Hura crepitans (sandbox tree)]
Thumm EJ, Bayerl C, Goerdt S.
Klinik fur Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie, Klinikum Mannheim gGmbH, Universitatsklinikum, Fakultat fur Klinische Medizin Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3, 68167 Mannheim.

We describe a 36-year-old female patient with angioedema-like swellings and rhinoconjunctivitis for 1 year occurring exclusively at her home. The clinical history revealed no correlation with foods, food additives, drugs, or aeroallergens. The complaints always started immediately after contact with the sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) placed in her apartment. Scratch testing resulted in a two-fold positive reaction towards leaves and stem, while five controls remained negative. Thus we suggest the reaction of the patient to be allergic in nature. Hura crepitans belongs to the family of Euphorbiaceae, whose largest genera are Euphorbia and Croton. The toxic reactions to the milky sap, the so-called latex, of these plants are caused by ingredients such as phorbol esters, croton oil, lectins, and terpens. Various terpens are also well known as allergens. Phytotoxic and phytoallergic reactions are growing increasingly important and should therefore be included in the differential diagnosis in dermatology.


 Biochem J. 1983 Dec 15;216(3):617-25.
Ribosome-inactivating proteins from the seeds of Saponaria officinalis L. (soapwort), of Agrostemma githago L. (corn cockle) and of Asparagus officinalis L. (asparagus), and from the latex of Hura crepitans L. (sandbox tree).
Stirpe F, Gasperi-Campani A, Barbieri L, Falasca A, Abbondanza A, Stevens WA.

Ribosome-inactivating proteins, similar to those already known [Barbieri & Stirpe (1982) Cancer Surveys 1, 489-520] were purified from the seeds of Saponaria officinalis (two proteins), of Agrostemma githago (three proteins), and of Asparagus officinalis (three proteins), and from the latex of Hura crepitans (one protein). The yield ranged from 8 to 400 mg/100 g of starting material. All proteins have an Mr of approx. 30000 and an alkaline isoelectric point. Their sugar content varies from 0 (proteins from S. officinalis) to 40% (protein from H. crepitans). The ribosome-inactivating proteins inhibit protein synthesis by rabbit reticulocyte lysate, the ID50 (concentration giving 50% inhibition) ranging from 1 ng/ml (a protein from S. officinalis) to 18 ng/ml (a protein from A. githago). Those which were tested (the proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago) also inhibit polymerization of phenylalanine by isolated ribosomes, acting in an apparently catalytic manner. The protein from H. crepitans inhibited protein synthesis by HeLa cells, with an ID50 of 4 micrograms/ml, whereas the proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago had an ID50 of more than 50-100 micrograms/ml. The ribosome-inactivating proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago reduced the number of local lesions by tobacco-mosaic virus in the leaves of Nicotiana glutinosa.


 Biochem J. 1983 Dec 1;215(3):433-9.
Purification and properties of two lectins from the latex of the euphorbiaceous plants Hura crepitans L. (sand-box tree) and Euphorbia characias L. (Mediterranean spurge).
Barbieri L, Falasca A, Franceschi C, Licastro F, Rossi CA, Stirpe F.

1. From the latex of two members of the plant family Euphorbiaceae, Hura crepitans L. (sand-box tree) and Euphorbia characias L. (Mediterranean spurge), two lectins were purified by affinity chromatography on acid-treated Sepharose 6B followed by elution with D-galactose. 2. The lectin from E. characias is a single molecular species with Mr 80 000, made up of two identical subunits with Mr 40 000, and is a glycoprotein containing 11% carbohydrate. 3. The lectin from H. creptians appears as a mixture of three isolectins with Mr 140 000, consisting of four different subunits with Mr values 37 500, 35 500, 31 000, and 29 000. 4. Both lectins have haemagglutinating activity, with no specificity for human blood groups. The haemagglutinating activity is inhibited by D-galactose and by galactose-containing oligosaccharides. 5. The lectin from H. crepitans is mitogenic to human T-, but not to B-, lymphocytes. The latex of E. characias is mitogenic to T- and, to a lesser extent, to B-, lymphocytes, but the purified E. characias lectin has no mitogenic activity. 6. The lectin from H. crepitans, but not that from E. characias, inhibits protein synthesis by a rabbit reticulocyte lysate.