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Psychotria colorata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Psychotria
Species: P. colorata
Binomial name
Psychotria colorata

Psychotria colorata is a species of plant in the Rubiaceae family. It has been documented in an ethnobotanical context among the Ka'apor people of Maranhão, Brazil by Dr. William Balée, the Tulane University anthropologist and historical ecologist:[1]

"Fishhooks (pinar) and line (pina-ham) are obtained through trade. The bait is usually worms, but two species of plants serve an intermediate role. Fruits of the rubiaceous forest herb Psychotria colorata and seeds of Ricinus comunis, a treelet of dooryard gardens, are used for baiting hooks and catching small fish: characins called pirapisi. Fishermen cut chunks of the characins as bait for hooking larger, more desirable fish" (Balée 1994: 61).

"It is said that a boy should rub leaves of tapesi'i (Cephalia sp. 1) or leaves of Psychotria colorata (tapi'ika'a), both of which are in the madder family, between his hands so that upon maturity he will be able to fashion well the manioc press (tapesi), an exclusive task of men" (Balée 1994: 107).

Extracts from the leaves, flowers, fruits and root of Psychotria colorata are traditionally used as an analgesic by Amazonian cabaclos native peoples. This analgesic effect has been studied in animals and shown to be reversible by naloxone, suggesting a mu opioid receptor mediated effect.[2][3] Subsequent research has identified several active alkaloids in the plant,[4][5] the most important of which are hodgkinsine, which acts as both a mu-opioid agonist and NMDA antagonist,[6] and psychotridine which is an NMDA antagonist with little or no mu-opioid affinity.[7]


  1. ^ Balée, William. 1994 Footprints of the Forest: Ka’apor Ethnobotany—the Historical Ecology of Plant Utilization by an Amazonian People. New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. ^ Elisabetsky E, Amador TA, Albuquerque RR, Nunes DS, Carvalho Ado C. Analgesic activity of Psychotria colorata (Willd. ex R. & S.) Muell. Arg. alkaloids. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1995 Oct;48(2):77-83. PMID 8583797
  3. ^ Amador TA, Elisabetsky E, Souza DO. Effects of Psychotria colorata alkaloids in brain opioid system. Neurochemical Research. 1996 Jan;21(1):97-102. PMID 8833229
  4. ^ Verotta L, Pilati T, Tatò M, Elisabetsky E, Amador TA, Nunes DS. Pyrrolidinoindoline Alkaloids from Psychotria colorata. Journal of Natural Products. 1998 Mar 27;61(3):392-6. PMID 9548883
  5. ^ Elisabetsky E, Amador TA, Leal MB, Nunes DS, Carvalho ACT, Verotta L. Merging ethnopharmacology with chemotaxonomy: an approach to unveil bioactive natural products. The case of Psychotria alkaloids as potential analgesics. Ciência e Cultura 1997; 49:378-385.
  6. ^ Amador TA, Verotta L, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. Antinociceptive profile of hodgkinsine. Planta Medica. 2000 Dec;66(8):770-2. PMID 11199142
  7. ^ Amador TA, Verotta L, Nunes DS, Elisabetsky E. Involvement of NMDA receptors in the analgesic properties of psychotridine. Phytomedicine. 2001 May;8(3):202-6. PMID 11417913


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