Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions
BRIEF: Could I have some more information on Tartago tea?
Recently I encountered a problem with a patient that arrived to ER with acute renal failure, hepatic failure, and possible bone marrow toxicity after ingesting "tartago tea". I have been doing some research, but the only information I found were several other names for this plant. Apparently the leave is commonly used for nausea, and stomach upset, when boiled. Scientific name: Jatropha curcas. Physic nut. Dessert potato and purging nut.
This plant is used as an ornamental back home in california, but not too much because it is so poisonous. This plants contains several classes of poisons throughout the plants (leaves, nuts, etc.), including a toxic protein, a resin that causes rashes, an oil that causes vomiting, and a glycoside of unknown (at least unknown to me!) function. You are no doubt aware that many medicinal teas used in the caribbean region contain hepatotoxic pyrollizidine alkaloids and that liver damage and failure are too often associated with traditional medicines on several of those islands. The physic nut (called Barbados nut in california, I think), is toxic enough, but that "tartago tea" you mentioned may have had some other plants in it as well.