9 Surprising Calumba Uses

Calumba is a herb derived from the roots of the Jateorhiza palmata. It is an effective treatment for morning sickness and diarrhoea. It is a perennial twining vine that grows two to five meters high and is native to the Mozo or rainforests of eastern Africa. 

It is processed into a powder that changes colour from green to brownish-black. The herb is available in capsule form, and some people take it regularly before meals. It can help with various ailments, including chronic fatigue syndrome, often associated with a lack of stomach acid.


The plant is native to East Africa, where it grows to enormous heights, reaching the canopies of trees. In Europe, it has adapted to temperate climates and is widely cultivated.


The calumba root has been used for centuries in East Africa as a tonic herb. The tree is native to rainforests in East Africa and can reach a height of up to 5 meters.

Plant description

It is propagated by a seed that is sown in the spring. The stems are hairy and glandular, with glandular tips, while the leaves are large and green. The calumba is an annual plant that is cultivated for its tubers.

Calumba is a dioecious plant commonly used as a medicinal herb in East Africa. Its leaves are 40 cm long and feature green sepals and petals that are 1.2 to 1.6 mm long.


The root of calumba is used as a digestive aid, especially in patients with poor digestion or low stomach acid. The herb can also be helpful for diarrhoea, gas, or loss of appetite. It is also used for worms and has long been used to treat dysentery and force out worms.

Botanical name

Calumba, belonging to the Menispermaceae family, Jateorhiza genus is botanically called Jateorhiza palmata. They contain several vitamins and minerals that can help with various health conditions.

Nutrition facts

The plant’s seeds are high in isoquinoline alkaloids, a great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in Africa. The most common use of this African native is in the Eastern region. However, it is found growing wild in tropical areas.

What does calumba taste like?

The bitter properties of calumba are attributed to its isoquinoline alkaloids and bitter principles. These compounds stimulate taste receptors on the tongue and digestive juices.

As a result, calumba is considered one of the most resentful plants in the world. It shares several characteristics with gentian, including its bitter taste. However, calumba contains no tannins or volatile oil, making it a pure astringent.

9 Uses of calumba (Jateorhiza palmata)

The plant has medicinal uses and is used to cure several chronic afflictions. Its properties include:

  • Strengthening the digestive system
  • Increasing absorption of nutrients
  • Curing various conditions, such as dysentery and diarrhoea

Here are some of the surprising uses and benefits of calumba.

Treating the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome

It is instrumental in treating the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition related to inadequate production of stomach acid. Although it can be dangerous when consumed in large quantities, healthy people can take the herb in small doses.

Stomach ailments

The root of calumba is a popular medicine for stomach ailments. Its bitter taste helps stimulate the secretion of digestive acids, which aid in the breakdown and absorption of food. It is beneficial for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, often caused by a lack of stomach acid.

In the United States, people often use it in herbal bitters to relieve indigestion. While it is not a good substitute for conventional medications, it is still an excellent herbal alternative for many ailments.

Treating dysentery

The plant is also effective against worms and is used in traditional African medicine to cure the symptoms of dysentery. Its bitter taste is due to alkaloids and bitter principles in the root.

Used as herbal tea

The roots of calumba are commonly used in herbal teas, and they are often added to herbal bitters.

It is often grown for medicinal value and is widely used in herbal preparations. It is a bitter tonic and is a popular herbal remedy in Africa. The medicinal properties of calumba have been known for centuries.

Treat anorexia nervosa

The plant’s roots are edible and are used as a digestive tonic in the rainforests of Madagascar and other low areas. It can also be used as a herbal treatment for anorexia nervosa. The roots have a sweet, rich flavor and are usually brownish in colour.

Used to treat acne

The leaves of the plant are highly beneficial for the body. The plant has been used as a herbal treatment for acne for centuries. It is a valuable herb for treating various ailments and is commonly found in herbal medicine shops.

Relives pain and itching

The plant’s fruit is edible and is an excellent remedy for various afflictions. For example, it can help relieve pain and itching, cure rheumatic fever and cure spasmodic abdominal pain.

Improves liver function

It can also improve liver function. The root is an excellent herb for the liver. In addition, it is a perfect herbal supplement for preventing colds and curing the flu.

Other benefits and uses

It helps treat multiple disorders, including diabetes and high cholesterol. There are also other applications for Calumba. For example, its oil treats burns and helps heal wounds.

Side effects or precautions

Although the side effects of calumba are generally not serious, it is crucial to be aware of possible risks before using this herb. Therefore, it should be taken before meals.

It can cause vomiting and nausea and should not be taken by pregnant women. It is not recommended for young children, nursing mothers, and people with severe liver or kidney disease. Excessive use of calumba can cause unconsciousness or paralysis.


The main uses of calumba include treating gastrointestinal disorders. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It has been used for centuries to treat dysentery.

While it is not suitable for pregnant women, it is a proper herbal remedy for a range of other ailments. It is used to treat poor appetite and anorexia nervosa.


  1. USDA
  2. Wikipedia

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