Read by title before I.H.A., Bureau of Materia Medica, June 18,. 1940.


SYNONYMS: Tlaxcapan, Cacastlapa, Tanibata, Espanta ginetes, Limpia tunas, Pegajosa, Espanta lobos.

BOTANICAL NAME: Ipomoea Stans. Cav.

Tumbavaqueros or Ipomoea stans. is a plant which has been used in the Mexican Republic since an immemorial epoch. The Aztecs, Chichimecas and Acolhuas made use of it for epilepsy, paralysis, in bites of snakes, rheumatism and as purgative.

Fifty years after the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes, in 1576, Dr. Hernandez, who accompanied the conqueror on his travels through America, studied 2, 000 Mexican plants during seven years and wrote about them, in Latin, a great book containing 24 volumes and which he sent to the king of Spain, Philip II. In this work, entitled Historia Plantarum Novae Hispanicae, he showed the virtues and medicinal use of plants and animals in New Spain.

This monumental work was left in the most complete abandonment in the archives of the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, near Madrid, and it was not until 1615, when Fray Francisco Ximenez obtained the permission to publish a synopsis of Dr. Hernandezs interesting volumes, entitled Los Cuatro Libros de la Naturaleza (Four Books of Nature).

This work spread the knowledge which ancient dwellers of Mexico had on materia medica and therapeutics.

We have taken notice about the use of Tumbavaqueros through the Aztec internists, known as Tlama-tepatiticitl, because the practice of medicine in the Acolhua-Chichimeca kingdom, was divided in internists, surgeons (Toxoxotla-ticitl), phlebotomist (Tezoc-tezoani), accoucheur (Tlamatqui-ticitl) and herbalist (Papiani-panama cani).

From the good results obtained in the art of curing by the empiric use of this plant, the enthusiastic wishes were developed to study it on a scientific base, so we have in this way regard to Prof. Jaureguis work in 1887, Dr. Montes de Oca, who submitted a thesis in 1893, on The Treatment of Hysteria and Epilepsy by Tumbavaqueros, as well as the investigations of Drs. Secundino Sosa, Duges, Govantes, Farias, Sesse and Mocino, carried out under the patronage of the National Medical Institute of Mexico.

Recently, Drs. Hernandez Ugalde, Elizarraras, Ramirez Moreno, Gonzalez Guzman, MacGregor, Prof. Garcia Colin and Dr. Silvino Solis Rodriguez, observed the therapeutic effects of this plant.

Tumbavaqueros is a wild herbaceous plant which belongs to the family of Convolvulaceae. It grows in the valley of Mexico and in the states of Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi, Oaxaca, Guanajuato and Queretaro.

This perennial plant is provided with a voluminous rhizoma; a branchy stem which grows as high as a meter, erect and down branches. Alternate leaves, ovate-lanceolated, sinuate-dentated, rough, 3 or 4 cms. in length and 1 to 1 2 in wide, shortly petiolated. Axillary flowers, solitary, monopetalous, violaceous color and bell-shaped flowers. Capsulated fruit.

Tuberous, compact, heavy root, about the size of a mans closed fist. From 50 to 80 cms. length, almost cylindrical and it can reach the volume of a human thigh.

The bark of this root is light brown in color, slightly thick, not uniform, dotted with clear spots and shows longitudinal rugosities and transversal strias; it can be easily separated and its internal face is also of light brown color. An abundant, sticky and milky juice oozes from the root when it is cut off; this liquid changes its color on contact with the air from white to yellowish and little by little becomes dark.

We can observe on the cut surface groups of prominent fibres. After dropping chlorhydric acid in this fibrinous surface, it takes a beautiful rose shade which changes into fire red under nitric acid reaction. If the cutting tool is made of metal, the cut surface takes a dark blue color. It characteristic smell resembles that of the dry rose when rubbed.

Its taste is slightly bitter and somewhat sweet.

CHEMICAL ANALYSIS: According to Dr. Montes de Oca, and following Jungfleischs method, there is found: iron, alumina, lime, magnesia, potash, soda. Sulphuric, carbonic, silicic, phosphoric and chlorhydric acids. Organic substances obtained by Dragendorff;s method are: liquid fat, essential oil, caoutchouc, tannic acid, acidous resin soluble in ether, catechine, glucoside, peptic principles, mucilage, albuminous and extractive substances, starch, woody (ligneous) and cellulose. By dessication and ignition was obtained: humidity 9.00, ashes 10:75, organic matter 80.25. Summa: 100.00. Active principle: essential oil, two acidous resins and a glucoside, this substance being the most important one. The part employed in this analysis was the root.

For pure experimentation and homoeopathic use the root must be used.

PHARMACOLOGY: Administered 5 to 10 c.c. of the tincture per one kilo of weight, by hypodermic, produces in dogs, cats and rabbits the following disturbances: restlessness and excitement. Rise of temperature, loss of appetite, diuresis and diarrhoea. Twenty-four hours later the animal becomes normal.

In 1893, in the Hospital de San Hipolito, (in Mexico City), devoted to insane patients, Dr. Govantes in collaboration with Dr. Farias, administered for some time progressive doses from 2 to 30 grs. a day of the tincture from the root, obtaining the following conclusions: Tumbavaqueros must not be administered in epileptic patients because it does not decrease the attacks, on the contrary, the administration of this substance increases them and produces access of acute mania.

Drs. Huici and Terres, gave powder of the root to some patients in doses from 2 to 8 grs. looking for cathartic effects, but they did not obtain the desired results.

Dr. Sosa administered tincture of Tumbavaqueros to three hysterical women, observing a great improvement in the neuro- psychic state of these patients.

Prof. Jauregui recommends that while providing the tincture of Tumbavaqueros to deprive it of its resins in order to prescribe it in epilepsy and hysteria without purgative effects.

Dr. Terres reported to the National Medical Institute of Mexico, his observations with dry extract of Tumbavaqueros in epileptic patients of both sexes, with dose from 50 to 2 grs., observing a very remarkable improvement in the mental state and decrease in the number of attacks.

Dr. Hernandez Ugalde, in 1932, tried to use empirically some solutions of 10 cgrs. per c.c. of the active substance obtained from this root on patients from La Castaneda Sanitarium (Mixcoac, D.F.), with the aim of comparing the therapeutical value of Tumbavaqueros with that of bromides, luminal, chloral and valeriana, reaching the following conclusions: the subcutaneous injections of 1 c.c. on 5 percent are painful and the trouble disappears three days later. They produce a rise in the temperature as far as 38, excitement, nausea and anorexia. After 5 or 6 hours the patient becomes normal.

Through endovenous way from 2 c.c. to 2 2 c.c., they produce, one hour later shivering, rise of temperature up to 40, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, extreme weakness, pain throughout the body and a great restlessness.

The temperature persists from 8 to 10 hours and the patient gradually becomes normal after 24 hours.

Fifteen spoonfuls of tincture of Tumbavaqueros, by oral via, improves the mental and nervous state of the patients very noticeably, and this prescription comes in substitution of luminal, bromates, potassic-boric-tartrate, etc., but Dr. Ugalde says that the inconvenience exists in regard to the patients subjected to the Tumbavaqueros treatment, do suffer loss of appetite, diarrhoea, restlessness and weakness.

Out of the groups of patients with different mental troubles selected by Dr. Ugalde, for the use of Tumbavaqueros, all of them improved very strikingly in their psychical state, reaching the following conclusions: Tumbavaqueros neither depresses the psychical function nor depresses the arterial tension having a sedative action, it is atoxic and it does not produce a habit.

Hilario Luna Castro