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Jatropa Curcas: The Bio Diesel Medicinal Plant

Jatropa Curcas or locally known as Tuba Bakod in our country has been used by our ancestors as a folkloric medicine for rheumatic pains, snake bites and also insecticide. The leaves are used as medicine for muscle ailments like rheumatic pains. Simply by applying oil on the leaves and heated by flames and then applied to the skin on where the ailments are. Although it has medicinal properties, the fruit and seed is not edible and poisonous when ingested. The leaves have anti-inflammatory properties but toxic when excessively used internally. The pounded leaves when pounded and made into a poultice can be used to aid in snakebites and also effective as an insecticide.

This shrub is erect and the leaves have a usually somewhat rounded at the base, pointed at the tip and toothed at the margins. Distributed though out the Philippines and neighboring Asian countries. Although this is an important addition to the many medicinal herbs (which you can also find some Philippine medical plants in my site on the resource box link below), it is now been discovered as a good bio diesel alternative or additive. Very cost effective and very close to the chemical properties of (fossil) diesel fuel we are using today. Unlike the coconut oil or alcohol additive, which are expensive to produce, Jatropa curcas or tuba is much cheaper.

A liter of pure coco bio diesel would cost over P120 or US$2.50, which is why only small amounts of it can be mixed with regular diesel fuel to produce a competitively priced alternative. Since there are no much demand for tuba, and very easy to propagate the plants, it is cost effective. And imagine you can extract 1 liter of oil from 3 kilos of seeds. There are no complicated processes of extracting oil from the seeds unlike coconut oil and alcohol bio diesel. Seeds are sun dried and grounded to extract oil from it. India now leads in the development of Jatropa curcas bio diesel fuel and now people in our country are becoming aware with the help of media. And hoping that the government will push through in promoting this bio diesel fuel. Research on jatropha biodiesel production in the Philippines is being undertaken by the research and development facility in Diliman, Quezon City, of PNOC Energy Development Corp. In India they are talking about planting jatropha in as much as 33 million hectares of wasteland.

The proponents envision plantations that can produce enough oil seeds from which biodiesel could be extracted to meet India’s current diesel fuel requirement of 40 million tons annually. Five tons of jatropha oil seeds can produce two tons of biodiesel. The Indian proponents of jatropha biodiesel point out, among others, that the plants “grow on poor degraded soils and are able to ensure a reasonable production of seeds with very little inputs. [They are] not grazed by animals [and are] highly pest and disease resistant.


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