This section is from the book "A Text-Book Of Pharmacology, Therapeutics And Materia Medica", by T. Lauder Brunton. Also available from Amazon: A text-book of pharmacology, therapeutics and materia medica.
Spinal stimulants are remedies which increase the functional activity of the spinal cord.
Thebaine. Gelsemine. Buxine. Calabarine. Caffeine.
The most marked of these are strychnine, brucine, and thebaine, which in small and moderate doses greatly increase the reflex excitability, and in large doses cause tetanic convulsions. Besides these there are some others, such as opium, morphine, and belladonna, which, although they appear at first to have a sedative action, when given in very large doses produce convulsions.
1 Edin. Med. Journ., July 1866.
2 Ludwig and Walton, Ludwig's Arbeiten, 1882.
The want of an exact knowledge of the intimate pathology of diseases of the spinal cord renders the rational use of spinal stimulants difficult. They are employed in the cases of general debility without any evidence of distinct disease, and in paralysis where there is no evidence of inflammation : this paralysis may be local, or affect the whole side of the body, as in hemiplegia, or the lower half, as in paraplegia.
When strychnine is given in cases of paralysis until it begins to exhibit its physiological action in slight muscular twitches, these twitches begin soooner and are more marked in the paralysed than the healthy parts.