Strophanthus is derived from the climbing plant stro-phanthus hispidus (Apocynaceae) of western Africa, from the extract of which the arrow-poison Kombe is made by the natives. The active principle is Strophanthin, from which Strophanthidin is derived by the action of sulphuric acid. Strophanthin is a crys-tallizable glucoside, common to different parts of the plant, but especially in the seeds which yield a large proportion.

Medical Properties And Therapeutic Uses

Strophanthin is bitter, acidulous, insoluble in ether and chloroform, but soluble in alcohol and water. It is a local anaesthetic, as three or four drops of a solution of 1 to 1000 dropped into the cornea will anaesthetize it for one or two hours without any irritation of the conjunctiva. It is considered by some to be a more powerful local anaesthetic than cocaine. The sensation of heat and cold is the last to be overcome, and the first to revive. Strophanthus is a cardiac tonic, in its action resembling digitalis. It lessens the heart's action, lengthens the intervals between the contractions, and increases the energy of the muscular tissue. In fatal cases the heart's action is arrested in diastole. It may be used to fulfil the same indications as digitalis, and is quicker in action and less protracted, but is considered to be less certain. It is less irritating and more prompt when used hypodermically than digitalis. It is a very powerful drug. It is also to some degree a diuretic, and the prolonged use of strophanthus will sometimes cause diarrhoea. Besides its employment as a local anaesthetic it is administered in cardiac dropsy, as a cardiac stimulant in typhoid fever, also in angina pectoris, bronchial asthma, whooping-cough, etc.


Of the tincture - tinctura strophanthi (5 per cent.), m ij to x; of strophanthin, gr. 1-1000 to 1-60. Strophanthin may also be administered hypodermically in doses of gr. 1/100, not more than once daily.

Dental Uses

Strophanthin is employed in dental practice as a local anaesthetic and obtunder of hypersensitive dentine. As a local anaesthetic it is usually combined with cocaine, atropine, some of the essential oils and glycerine.

Dental Formula

For Local Anaesthesia.

Dr. Birge. 1/5

Sulphate atropin............... gr 1/2

Carbolic acid (95 per cent. sol.)..........gtts.v

Hydrochlorate of cocaine............grs.xx

Distilled water...............q. s.


Inject 4 to 6 drops hypodermically.

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