Medicinal Importance: The seeds are considered abortifacient (Nath & Sethi, 1992), anodyne, aphrodisiac, antimicrobial, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, emollient, febrifuge, hemostat, laxative, purgative, refrigerant, sedative, vermifuge, antidote and used in various ailments to cure headache, snakebite, blennorrhagia, boil, cancer, cold, colic, conjunctivitis, convulsion, cough, diarrhea, fever, gastritis, gonorrhea, jaundice, malaria, night-blindness, ophthalmia and rheumatism. The seeds are also used to treat diabetes and chronic nephritis (Rain-tree, 2004).
Leaves, roots and seeds are used for medicinal purposes. The plant is used in some traditional medicine to treat scratches and sores and wounds caused by dogs, cats and mice, and is also used with other ingredients to treat leucoderma. The leaves are used for their anti-suppurative properties. They are ground with lime and applied on acne sores, boils and abscesses. The plant is also traditionally used to treat tetanus, and to prevent rabies. Various African tribes use powdered seeds as oral contraceptives (Anonymous, 1948-1976; Nadkarni, 1954; Chopra et al., 1956; Chopra, 1958).
Paste of roots is administered to cure abdominal pains and tumors. The paste with fresh rhizome of Haldi (Curcuma longa) is applied on wounds. This paste is also taken orally as a single dose once only for abortion. Grinded roots of Abrus precatorius is taken with pure clarified butter thrice a day for four days to cure cough. For graying of hair, a paste of leaves and seeds is made and juice is extracted. This juice is applied on hair as oil once a day one hour before taking bath. Dry seeds of Abrus precatorius are powdered and taken one teaspoonful once a day for two days to cure worm infection (Kirtikar & Basu, 1935; Rain-tree, 2004).
In veterinary medicine, it is used in the treatment of fractures.
Formulations: It is an ingredient of product "Tranquil" used in the treatment of stress and anxiety (Members.rediff, 2004).
Other Uses: The brightly-coloured seeds attract childrens; they also play with them and in school use them in their handiwork and to count. Necklaces and other ornaments are made from the seeds and worn by both children and adults (Inchem, 2004). Leaves and seeds are nutritious. Boiled seeds are eaten in certain parts of India. It is claimed that cooking destroys the poison of seeds (Rajaram & Janardhanan, 1992; Pandey, 1994). The small seeds are used in jewelry. They have a uniform weight of 1/10th of a gram, hence used as weighing unit (Tropilab, 2004). Seeds have also the potential of good insecticide (Khanna, & Kaushik, 1989) and antimicrobial activity (Saxena, & Vyas, 1986).