This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
C30H34O13=600.58. A neutral principle obtained from the seed of Anamirta patticulata Colebrooke (nat. ord. Menispermaceae). Synonyms. - Cocculus Indicus. Fishberry.
Colorless, flexible, shining, prismatic crystals, or a micro-crystalline powder, odorless, and having a very bitter taste; permanent in the air.
Dose, 1/120 to 1/60 gr.; .0005 to .001 gm.
Picrotoxin is very destructive to lower forms of life, and is therefore antiparasitic.
It is a powerful poison, causing severe gastro-intestinal irritation, collapse, lightheadedness, convulsions, hyperpyrexia, slowing of the pulse and stimulation of the respiratory centre. Death results from asphyxia, partly due to convulsions and partly to ultimate paralysis of the respiratory centre.
An ointment of the seeds in lard 1 to 6 has been applied to the scalp to kill pediculi. It must be employed with caution, for this strong poison can be absorbed if the skin be broken. It is an expensive ointment.
Picrotoxin is used empirically, to check the night sweating of phthisis. A single dose should be given in the evening. Its action is uncertain, but sometimes it succeeds. Many other diseases have been treated with it, but there is no evidence that it has benefited them. Tablets, each containing 1/100 of a grain .0006 gm., are prepared for subcutaneous injection. One should be dissolved in a few drops of water immediately before use.