This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
St. Ignatius Bean, Strychnos Ignatia. Official in France, Mexico, and Spain. Included in the National Formulary.
This will be considered under "Nux Vomica," q. v. Nux vomica is said to contain 1 1/4 per cent of strychnine and 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 per cent of brucine. Ignatia is said to contain about 1 per cent of each alkaloid. The differences in action between nux vomica and ignatia are purely quantitative. As a matter of fact, the analysis of ignatia often results in separating more strychnine from it than is ordinarily extracted from nux vomica. And it is asserted on good authority that strychnine is more readily extracted from ignatia than from nux vomica, hence ignatia is a common commercial source of strychnine.
Brucine is less rapidly absorbed than strychnine, and is about fifty times less powerful as a con-vulsant, though more poisonous to the sensory nerves than strychnine. Locally applied it has an anesthetic action. A 5% solution is applied externally. It is a better stomachic bitter than is strychnine. The dose is 1-12 to 1/2 grain.
Owing to the hyperesthesia of the senses produced by brucine, Homeopathic authorities have esteemed ignatia highly in the treatment of hysteria and dyspepsia. If we had a strychnine-free tincture of ignatia, it should be quite valuable in these directions. Now both nux vomica and ignatia, in small doses, are useful in these conditions. See "Nux Vomica." But that ignatia possesses any advantage over nux vomica in the treatment of these cases has never been made apparent to me. I have largely used both drugs in small doses and have noted no difference in therapeutic effects, though I am not at all prepared to call in question the views of gentlemen whose experience leads them to a different conclusion. However, the facts that both nux vomica and ignatia belong to the order of Loganiaceae and there are points of similarity between the two plants, lead me to believe that my conclusions are justified.
Tr. ignatia may be given in doses of 2 to 10 minims; fl., 1/4 to 2 minims, but rarely over 1 minim.