Definition of Calabar bean in US English:

Calabar bean


  • The poisonous seed of a tropical West African climbing plant, containing physostigmine and formerly used for tribal ordeals.

    The plant is Physostigma venosum, family Leguminosae

    • ‘His first project was the total synthesis of physostigmine, an indole alkaloid extracted from the Calabar bean, used in the treatment of glaucoma.’
    • ‘Although outlawed throughout Africa, the Calabar bean ordeal is astonishingly enough, still practiced in some tribal rituals.’
    • ‘Physostigmine, C 15 H 22 N 3 O 2, is the major alkaloid found in the seeds of Calabar beans.’
    • ‘In 1935, Julian and Josef Pikl synthesized physostigmine - still used to treat glaucoma - found in Calabar beans.’
    • ‘His synthesis of physostigmine, found in the Calabar bean, or Physostigmavenenosum, yielded a treatment for glaucoma.’
    • ‘Richard Hoskins, a U.K.-based expert on African religion and voodoo, says the Calabar bean, in combination with the other ingredients in Adam's gut, pointed to the West African country of Nigeria.’
    • ‘Further investigations, using bone chemistry, narrowed the home of the boy to an area near Benin, Nigeria, where Calabar bean is native and where animal, and rarely human, sacrifice is performed.’
    • ‘What is the difference between death due to Strychnine poison and death due to poisoning by the Calabar bean?’
    • ‘Julian was interested in medicinal plants, particularly the Calabar bean whose active principle, physostigmine, was first isolated by the German chemists Jobst and Hesse in 1864.’
    • ‘In nature, physostigmine is found in Calabar beans, poisonous beans that grow in West Africa.’
    • ‘Yes, the Calabar bean was tremendously venomous but it really did spare the innocent and killed the guilty for simple pharmacological reasons.’
    • ‘In higher plants, the first sterols were isolated by Hesse from the Calabar beans which coined the term ‘phytosterine’.’
    • ‘But since physostigmine could be isolated only from the Calabar bean, the drug was not readily available.’
    • ‘In cases of poisoning by Calabar beans, the stomach should be evacuated, and atropine injected until the pulse quickens or the symptoms pass off.’
    • ‘His work on the Calabar bean provides didactic and practical routes for the synthesis of medicinally important compounds.’


Calabar bean

/kaləbär ˌbēn/