Strychnos Nux-vomica, Linne'. The dried, ripe seed, yielding not less than 2.5 p.c. of alkaloids.

Habitat. India, Hindustan, E. India islands, Malabar, Ceylon, Java, N. Australia.

Syn. Nux Vom., Dog (Quaker, Bachelor's) Buttons, Vomit (Poison) Nut, Dog Poison, Crow-fig, Ratabane, False Angustura, Columbrina, Ordeal-root, Nux Metella, Semen Nuces Voicae; Fr. Noix vomique; Ger. Semen Strychni, Brachnuss, Krabhenaugen.

Strych'nos. L. fr. Gr...., night shade, equivalent to L. solanum, used anciently for several poisonous plants, but not for the present one.

Nux' Vom'i-ca. L. Nux, a nut, + vomere, to vomit -- i.e., excessive doses may vomit, or require vomiting to save life, small doses may allay it.


Small tree, 4.5-9 M. 15-30 degrees) high, trunk short, thick, crooked, branches irregular, bark yellowish-gray, nearly smooth; leaves exstipulate, 5-10 Cm. (2-4') long, roundish, oval, 3-5-nerved, apex acute, entire, shining; flowers in winter, whitish, funnel-shaped, 8 Mm. (1/3') long, paniculate cymes; fruit shining, globular, 4-5 Cm. (1 3/5-2') thick, rind thin, tough, orange-yellow when ripe, filled with poisonous white gelatinous pulp in which 1-5 seed are immersed irregularly. SEED, orbicular, nearly flat, occasionally irregularly bent, 10-30 Mm. (3/5-1 1/5') broad, 4-5 Mm. (1/6-1/5') thick, very hard when dry; grayish, greenish-gray, covered with appressed hairs giving a silky luster; hilum -- a circular scar at the center of one of the flattened sides and connected with micropyle at the edge by a ridge; internally showing a thin, hairy seed-coat and large grayish-white endosperm, at one end of which is embedded a small embryo with 2 ovate 5-7-nerved cotyledons; inodorous; taste intensely, persistently bitter.


light gray -- chiefly thick-walled endosperm cells containing fixed oil globules, few aleurone grains, lignified non-glandular hairs with walls having large pores, few spherical starch grains in tissues of adhering pulp. Solvents: 75 p.c. alcohol; boiling water partially. Dose, gr. 1/2-5 (.03-.3 Gm.).



Rare -- as nothing resembles them closely;


Common -- various inert substances (increasing amount of hairs) and olive stones, often 50 p.c. RASPED: "Vegetable ivory" (coroso, negrito), seeds of Phytel'ephas macrocar'pa (Australia, used natively for making buttons) and of Metrox'ylon vitie'se (socalled Australian "coroso," Fiji Islands, imported into Hamburg for the purpose; odorless, tasteless, bony, revealing decided structural differences under the microscope).


Plant resembles our dogwood and its fruit a small orange. Seed are washed free of pulp and dried in the sun, the best being recognized by light color, ample breadth, thin edge, excessive silkiness, and prominent hilum; they may readily be powdered by breaking into small pieces and drying several days with hot air or carefully applied direct heat; powder should be uniform so as not to retard or prevent thorough exhaustion by menstruum. There are four varieties valued in the order named: 1, Bombay; 2, Cochin (Calcutta); 3, Ceylon; 4. Madras.


Alkaloids 2.5-4-5.3 p.c.: Strychnine .25 p.c., Brucine .5-2 p.c., Igasurine (probably impure brucine), all combined with igasuric (strychnic, tannic, caffeo-tannic) acid; Loganin, fixed oil, proteins 11 p.c., yellow coloring matter, gum, sugar 6 p.c., ash 1-3/5 p.c. Dunstan and Short found total alkaloids to vary from 2.74 p.c. in small Madras to 3.9 p.c. in large, silky Bombay seed, of which 30-50 p.c. was strychnine.

Strychnina, Strychnine, CHON, N.F. -- This alkaloid is found not only in nux vomica, but also in other loganiaceous plants (seeds); it was discovered by Pelletier, 1818, and may be obtained by boiling powdered seed with acidulated (HCl or HSO) water, thus liberating tannic (igasuric) acid, mucilage, coloring matter, etc., and forming chlorides or sulphates of the alkaloids; concentrate and add milk of lime to decompose alkaloidal salts (forming CaCl2 or CaSO4) and to precipitate strychnine and brucine; wash precipitate, treat it with diluted alcohol to dissolve brucine, or with alcohol or benzene to take out strychnine, thus leaving brucine in the mother-liquor.  If diluted alcohol be used for brucine, then by boiling residue with alcohol strychnine is obtained; can purify with animal charcoal and reprecipitate with ammonia.  It is in colorless, transparent, prismatic crystals, white crystalline powder, odorless (must use great caution in tasting, and then only in very dilute solutions, which are exceedingly bitter -- 1 in 700,000), permanent, soluble in water (6420), boiling water (3100), alcohol (136), boiling alcohol (34), chloroform (5), benzene (180), very slightly in ether; saturated solutions alkaline, levorotatory; forms numerous salts (hydrochloride, nitrate, phosphate, sulphate, etc.).  With sulphuric acid containing 1 p.c. of ammonium vanadate -- deep violet-blue, changing to deep purple, cherry-red, incinerate 1 Gm. -- ash .1 p.c.; solution of .1 Gm. in sulphuric acid 2 cc. -- only pale yellow (abs. of readily carbonizable organic substances) until a fragment of potassium dichromate is added -- deep blue color, changing to deep violet, purplish-red, cherry-red, orange, yellow.  Add .1 Gm. to mixture of equal vols. nitric acid and distilled water -- may produce yellow color, but no red or reddish (abs. of brucine).  Impurities: Brucine, readily carbonizable organic substances; commercial strychnine contains some homo-strychnine, CHON.  Dose, gr. 1/60-1/20 (.001-.003 Gm.)

Strychninae Nitras, Strychnine Nitrate, CHON.HNO, U.S.P. -- Syn., Strych. Nit: Fr. Azotate (Nitrate) de Strychnine; Ger. Strychninum nitricum, Strychninnitrat, Salpetersaures Strychnin.)  Obtained by dissolving strychnine (1) in diluted nitric acid (1,886), or strychnine (5), hot dist. water (50), dilute nitric acid q.s., when neutral evaporate, crystallize.  It is in colorless, glistening needles, white crystalline powder, odorless (must use great caution in tasting, and then only in very dilute solutions, which are exceedingly bitter -- 1 in 700,000, permanent, soluble in water (45), boiling water (10), alcohol (150), hot alcohol (80), glycerin (50), chloroform (105), insoluble in ether; saturated aqueous solution neutral, slightly acid, levorotatory; contains 84.13 p.c. of the alkaloid.  Tests: 1. Superimpose in a test-tube an aqueous solution of the salt upon diphenylamine T.S. -- a blue color at zone of contact; heated with hydrochloric acid--bight red.  2. Aqueous solution 1 in 100) 20 cc. acidulated with 2 drops diluted nitric acid, + 5 drops of silver nitrate T.S. -- no opelescence at once (abs. of chloride); similar solution 20 cc + 5 drops of barium nitrate T.S. -- no immediate turbidity (abs. of sulphate).  Should be kept dark in well-closed containers.  Dose, gr. 1/60-1/20 (.001-.003 Gm.).

Strychninae Sulphas, Strychnine Sulphate, (CHON)2.HHSO.5HO, U.S.P. -- (Syn., Strych. Sulph.; Fr. Sulfate de Strychnine; Ger. Strychninum sulfuricum, Strychninsulfat, Schwefelsaures Strychnin.)  Obtained by dissolving strychnine in diluted sulphuric acid, avoiding excess, evaporating filtrate, crystallizing.  It is in colorless, white, crystals, white, crystalline powder, odorless, efflorescent (must use great caution in tasting, and then only in very dilute solutions, which are exceedingly bitter -- 1 in 700,000), soluble in water 35, boiling water (7), alcohol (81), hot alcohol (26), chloroform (220), glycerin, insoluble in ether; saturated aqueous solution (1 in 50) neutral, slightly acid, levorotatory; contains 78.03 p.c. of the alkaloid.  Tests:  1. Aqueous solution with barium chloride T.S.--white precipitate, insoluble in hydrochloric acid.  2. Dried to constant weight at 100 degrees C. (212 degrees F.) -- loses 11 p.c. (all water of crystallization); ash .1 p.c.  Should be kept dark, in well-closed containers.  Dose, gr. 1/60-1/20 (.001-.003 Gm.).

Brucine (Brucina), CHON. -- Named after James Bruce (1730-1794), a Scotch traveler, and obtained in extracting strychnine; occurs in rectangular, octahedral crystals, containing 4HO, soluble in water (850), readily in chloroform, alcohol, ammonia, creosote; forms numerous salts, less bitter than strychnine, 12 times weaker, 3 times slower physiologically; by some considered to be strycnine + resin, as it has same action.  Test: 1. With nitric acid--blood-red color, changing to orange-yellow; now add stannous chloride, sulphurous acid, or any deoxidizing agent--violet-red (this completely bleaches morphine-red).  Dose, gr. 1/12-1/2 (.005-.03 Gm.).

Igasurine (Igasuria), fr. Malay, igasura, the nux vomica. -- Obtained from mother-waters of strychnine and brucine after their precipitation with lime; occurs in white crystals; by some claimed to be a mixture of 9 alkaloids, mostly brucine; others doubt its existence.

Igasuric Acid. -- Identical with tannic or caffeo-tannic acid, amorphous, dark green with ferric salts, by hydrolysis yields glucose and caffeic acid.

Loganin, CHO. -- Bitter glucoside, in white prisms, soluble in water, alcohol; with sulphuric acid--red, then purple, and splits into dextrose and loganetin.



1. Extractum Nucis Vomicae. Extract of Nux Vomica.  (Syn., Ext. Nuc. Vom., Powdered Extract of Nux Vomica; Fr. Extrait de Noix vomique; Ger. Extractum Strychni, Brechnussextrakt.)

Manufacture: Macerate, percolate 100 Gm. with 75 p.c. alcohol containing acetic acid 1 p.c. until exhausted, reclaim alcohol, concentrate to 20 cc., transfer to flask or separator, add water 15 cc. + purified petroleum benzin 20 cc., shake thoroughly several minutes, decant benzin layer, shake residue again with purified petroleum benzin 10 cc., decant benzin layer, reject benzin solutions.  Evaporate fat-free residue on water-bath to dryness, stirring frequently; assay and add q.s. dried starch for extract to contain 15.2-16.8 -- l6 p.c. of the alkaloids.  Pulverize, mix thoroughly, pass through fine sieve.  Should be kept in small, wide-mouthed, tightly-stoppered bottles.  Dose, gr. 1/8-1/2 (.008-.03 Gm.): Preps.: 1. Pilulae Aloes et Podophylli Compositae, N.F., 1/4 gr. (.016 Gm.).  2. Pilulae' Ferri, Quininae, Aloes et Nucis Vomicae, N.F., 1/4 gr. (.016 Gm.).

2. Tinctura Nucis Vomicae.  Tincture of Nux Vomica.  (Syn., Tr. Nuc. Vom.; Fr. Teinture de Noix-vomique; Ger. Tinctura Strychni, Brechnusstinktur, Krahenaugentinktur.)


10 p.c.  Similar to Tinctura Veratri Viridis, page 104, 1st menstruum: 75 p.c. alcohol containing 1 p.c. of acetic acid, 2d menstruum: 75 p.c. alcohol; contains .237-.263 -- .25 Gm. of alkaloids in each 100 cc.  Dose, mv-20 (.3-1.3 cc.).

3. Fluidextractum Nucis Vomicae, N.F., (75 p.c. alcohol, 2.5 Gm. alkaloids in each 100 cc.  Dose, mj-5 (.06-.3 cc.).  STRYCHNINE: 1. Elixir Ferri Pyrophosphatis, Quininae et Strychninae, N.F., 1/125 gr. in each 3j.  2.  Elixir Pepsini, Bismuthi et Strychninae, N.F., 1/100 gr. in each 3j.  3.  Liquor Hypophosphitum Compositus, N.F., 1/200 gr. in each 3j.  4.  Pilulae Aloini, Strychninae et Belladonnae, N.F., 1/125 gr. in each.  5.  Pilulae Aloini, Strychninae et Belladonnae Compositae, N.F., 1/125 gr. in each.  6.  Pilulae Ferri, Quininae, Strychninae et Arseni Fortiores, N.F., 1/20 gr. in each.  7.  Pilulae Ferri, Quininae, Strychninae et Arseni Mites, N.F., 1/50 gr. in each.  8.  Pilulae Laxativae Compositae, N.F., 1/125 gr. in each. 9.   Syrupus Ferri Quininae et Strychninae Phosphatum, N.F., 1/80 gr. in each 3j.  10.  Syrupus Hypophosphitum Compositus, N.F., 1/80 gr. in each 3j.  STRYCHNINE NITRATE: 1. Elixir Glycerophosphatum Compositum, N.F., 1/160 gr. in each 3j.  2.  Syrupus Phosphatum cum Quinina et Strychnina, N.F., 1/125 gr. in each 3j.  STRYCHNINE SULPHATE: 1. Elixir Cinchonae Alkaloidorum, Ferri, Bismuthi et Strychninae, N.F., 1/100 gr. in each 3j.  2. Elixir Cinchonae Alkaloidorum, Ferri et Strychninae, N.F., 1/100 gr. in each 3j.  3. Elixir Ferri, Quinonae et Strychninae, N.F. 1/100 gr. in each 3j.)

Unoff. Preps.: Abstract (seed), gr. 1/4-2 (.016-.13 Gm.).  Decoction (leaves) -- externally in rheumatism.  Elixirs, Solutions, Syrups of various salts of strychnine.


Motor excitant, spinant, tonic, stomachic, respiratory, cardiac, muscular, and nervous stimulant, antiseptic, poisonous.  Strychnine and nux vomica are identical, increasing the vascularity of gastric mucous membrane, secretion of gastric juice, and peristalsis by stimulating the intestinal muscular coat (purative), stimulates direct the cardiac muscles or the motor ganglia and nerves of special sense; strychnine, full dose, gr. 1/10 (.006 Gm.), gives dilated pupils, jerky limbs, spasmodic respirations, stiff lower jaw, cerebral tension, shuddering, depression, facial smile or grin.  Thebaine (opium) acts similarly.  The spasms of tetanus are constant, of strychnine intermittent, with meaningless smile, the modified lockjaw, absence of wound, and rapidly developed symptoms differentiate the two.  Strychnine is absorbed rapidly, but eliminated slowly by urinary, salivary, and cutaneous channels.


Strychnine was used first in paralysis, and now in atonic dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, bowel atony, pregnancy and phthisis vomiting, nervous cough bronchitis, anemia, paralytic condition, lead palsy, inebriate and diphtherial paralysis, amaurosis from lead, tobacco, alcohol, paralysis of bladder, incontinence of urine, sexual impotence, tetanus, chorea, epilepsy, delirium tremens, spermatorrhea, neuralgia, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, antidote to chloral hydrate, morphine, physostigmine.  A tolerance for it is established quickly, but gr. 1/12 (.005 Gm.) has killed, while gr. 1/2-2 (.03-.13 Gm.) as a rule is considered fatal; extract, gr. .3 (.2 Gm.) also have killed.


Strychnine, gr. ½ (.03 Gm.), or more, produces within half an hour difficult breathing, sense of suffocation and impending death, muscular rigidity, stiffness of neck, tonic or persistent convulsions of all extensor muscles, coming on at intervals 3-30 minutes, lasting a few seconds to one or more minutes, these quickly recurring at every noise, touch or peripheral irritation, between convulsions complete relaxation, face dusky and with ghastly grin, angles of mouth drawn back and upward, body curved so as to rest on head and heels, eyeballs prominent, pupils dilated during paroxysm, eyes fixed and open, lips livid, great thirst but unable to drink owing to spasms of jaws, respiration suspended during convulsions, pulse feeble and rapid, involuntary defecation and urination, lockjaw, death in 2-3 hours from asphyxia; mind clear until near the end, when carbon dioxide narcosis (cyanosis), exhaustion and nervous storm set in.  Place in horizontal position, in dark room remote from all noise, use evacuants, (stomach-pump, emetics, purgative), follow with antidotes: tannin dissolved in water, charcoal, potassium permanganate; if ingested relax (convulsions) with chloroform or ether, and give by rectum potassium bromide gr. 60 (4 Gm.) and chloral hydrate, gr. 40 (2.6 Gm.) in starch water; amyl nitrite, (soluble iodides, tobacco, opium, physostigmine, atropine, conium, cannabis).  Empty bladder often (catheter), practice artificial respiration.


Chloral hydrate, potassium bromide, tobacco, chloroform, ether, tannin, bromides, iodides, chlorides.


Motor excitants, ergot, ustilago, electricity, cold.

Allied Product

1.  The bark was once (1806-1837) upon the market in England and Holland, being mixed usually with Angustura, and since then has been known as  False Angustura Bark; it is poisonous, gray, cork patches rust-color, warty, inside brown, fracture smooth, no white striae (calcium oxalate); contains strychnine, brucine, etc.  The wood is used in domestic practice; all portions are medicinal.