The Abrus seeds are considered poisonous in Ayurveda and a specific method has been written to purify them. The purified Abrus is a nerve stimulant and is used in vata disorders like joint pains and paralysis. The paste of seeds is applied locally in alopecia and skin diseases. It has also been mentioned as a contraceptive in Ayurveda.
Five glycoproteins have been purified from the seeds. They are Abrus agglutinin (a haemagglutinin) and the toxic principles abrins [a] to [d]. The seeds also contain an amino acid known as abrine (N-methyl- L-tryptophan), glycyrrhizin and a lipolytic enzyme. The roots, stems, and leaves also contain glycyrrhizin.