Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Strychnos nux-vomica L.

English Name : Snakewood Strychnine Tree, Poison Nut and Nux-vomica

Family : Loganiaceae

Origin : Indo-Malaysia

A medium-sized tree with a short, crooked, thick trunk, the wood is white hard, close grained, durable and the root very bitter. Branches irregular, covered with a smooth ash-coloured bark; young shoots deep green, shiny; leaves opposite, short stalked, oval, shiny, smooth on both sides, about 4 inches long and 3 broad; flowers small, greeny-white, funnel shape, in small terminal cymes, blooming in the cold season and having a disagreeable smell. Fruit about the size of a large apple with a smooth hard rind or shell which when ripe is a lovely orange colour, filled with a soft white jelly-like pulp containing five seeds covered with a soft woolly-like substance, white and horny internally. The seeds have the shape of flattened disks densely covered with closely appressed satiny hairs, radiating from the centre of the flattened sides and giving to the seeds a characteristic sheen; they are very hard, with a dark grey horny endosperm in which the small embryo is embedded; no odour but a very bitter taste.

Parts Used : Bark, seed, fruit and leaf

Herb Effects
In the mouth it acts as a bitter, increasing appetite; it stimulates peristalsis, in chronic constipation due to atony of the bowel it is often combined with cascara and other laxatives with good effects; stimulant (seed); alleviates spasms (fruit and leaf) and relaxes muscles (root bark).

Active Ingredients
Strychnine and brucine (these two have toxic properties; strychnine is the most potent alkaloid of this plant); alpha-amyrin, strychnia acid (leaf, seed and root and stem bark); chlorogenic acid, choline, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, xylose (seed); vomicine (fruit).

Medicinal Use
For epilepsy and dysentery (stem bark); as a nervine tonic, in paralysis (due to lead poisoning), neuralgia, chorea, debility, impotence, spermatorrhea, rectal prolapses, blindness, heartburn, incontinence (urinary), rashes (from syphilis and leprosy); to treat fever, lack of digestive power, in atonic dyspepsia (seed powder).

Powdered nux vomica: 1/2 grain to 5 grains, three or four times a day, and gradually increased to 10.
Extract: 1/15 to 1/20 of a grain as a tonic.
Tincture: 5 to 30 drops.


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