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Ecballium elaterium


Ecballium elaterium

(Squirting cucumber)


Botanical info: 

Squirting cucumber is an herbal perennial vine of the gourd family that typically grows to 20 – 50 cm tall, but clambers and trails along the ground, often in an aggressive sprawling fashion, to 1 m wide. It is native to hot dry areas of disturbed ground, fields, farmland, rocky/stony areas, and roadsides in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. Flowering  June to August. 


Hippocratic legacy: 

    a. In Internal Affections:

        a. Squirting cucumber leaves sap is indicted for the treatment of dropsy. 

    b. In Nature of Women: 

        a. Squirting cucumber sap drunken for two days induces abortion.  


Other uses: 

The action of this extract resembles that of the saline aperients but is much more powerful. It is the most active hydragog purgative known, also causing much depression and violent griping. When injected subcutaneously, it is inert, as its action is entirely dependent upon its admixture with the bile. The drug is undoubtedly valuable in cases of dropsy and Bright's disease, and in cases of cerebral hemorrhage, threatened or present. It must not be used except in urgent cases, and must invariably be employed with the utmost care, especially if the state of the heart be unsatisfactory. In the 21st century, elaterium and its constituents are considered a poison, with several case reports of hospitalization, edema of the uvula, and necrosis of the nasal mucosa resulting from nasal or oral consumption.


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