Ricinus Leaf For Acute Renal Colic Grace Keller

I worked in Haiti after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake with Thomas Easley, a modern Western herbalist from South Alabama. Ricinus communis plants are extremely prolific in southern Haiti, and we were seeing a great many painful, inflamed, and infectious conditions. As we sat debriefing one evening outside the compound where Thomas was staying, I picked a nearby Ricinus communis leaf for him to taste, and described its use profile.

The next day, Easley was working in the field with a medical doctor who had been in family practice for forty-five years. Their last patient of the day was a six foot tall man in his early- to mid-thirties who weighted about 180 lbs. The man was writhing in pain. The doctor suspected appendicitis/peritonitis or kidney stones/gallstones, and diagnosed the latter (renal colic) upon examination. He prescribed narcotics for the pain, but unfortunately the pharmacy was exhausted and all they had was ibuprofin, (which is inappropriate for patients with kidney disease).

The group hosting Easley and the doctors were Christian faith healers from California. They prayed over the patient with no improvement in the pain. Easley and Chris Gauthier jogged to a nearby Ricinus communis plant. Gautier, a Haitian-American Emergency Medical Technician, obtained permission to pick leaves from the family in whose compound the plant grew.

In the United States, Easley would have used two capsules of Hydrangea root every fifteen to twenty minutes with an antispasmodic like Lobelia, Kava, or Agrimony and strong lemon water (eight fresh juiced lemons per gallon of water) to help a person pass stones. Easley had none of these remedies, but sour oranges were everywhere.

Easley bought a sour orange from a woman selling them on the corner and squeezed it into a solo cup. He used his pocket knife to cut up and mash half a Ricinus communis leaf in the sour orange juice, and gave the mixture to the patient to drink. He had the patient chew another half a leaf (the man hated the taste), while he worked the kidney reflexes on the soles of the man's feet.

Within seven minutes after drinking the sour orange juice and Ricinus communis leaf mixture, the patient was entirely out of pain. the doctor was astounded, as was the patient. Due to the disaster conditions and the approaching evening, Easley, Gauthier, and the doctor were unable to stay with the patient to observe the passing of any stones.

For more information about the context of this case, see Team 1 Day 8 Update Kyla.


Anna Grace Keller, Medicine and Motherwit: Traditional Deep South Herbalism. Self-Published, 2013. Pages 58—59.

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