This drug, or its alkaloid, strychnia, has been long in repute among veterinarians. It is employed in the form of powdered seeds, or "nuts" as they are called, extract, and strychnia in solution. The more elegant preparations, as Easton's syrup and various citrates, are sometimes employed, but are not in general use for horses.
The intense bitterness of this drug does not usually debar us from prescribing it, as few horses object to it. It is often advantageously combined with the simpler vegetable bitters previously referred to as stomach tonics; it may also be given with iron or alkalies. When prescribed with acids, the liquor strychnise is advised. The use of the drug is seldom pushed to extremes with horses, although with man, and the dog also, in certain forms of paralysis, it is administered until slight spasmodic movements in the voluntary muscles are observed. In excessive doses violent muscular contractions, sometimes resulting in general rigidity of the body, are induced. Its action on the bowels renders it a valuable medicine in some forms of constipation arising from imperfect innervation, more particularly in the case of old animals, or the subjects of chronic functional disease of the alimentary canal. After long-continued use the system becomes more and more indifferent to its action, and is less affected by it than at first. It is for this reason advisable to begin with a small dose and increase it gradually if the course of treatment is to be a long one. Or it may be desirable to discontinue its use for a time and resort to it again.
It is one of the drugs used by grooms who "travel" stallions, as it imparts tone to the system and sustains sexual desire.
Fig. 4.31. - Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica).
1, Section of fruit. '1. Seed (Ceylon). 3, Section of seed (Ceylon). 4, Seed showing ridge (Ceylon). 5, Seed (Madras). 6, Same seed showing ridge. 7, Seed of Strychnos ignatii.