Strychnine. Called also Vauquelnia, and Tetanine. An alkaloid obtained from Strychnos Nux Vomica, Strychnos Ignatii, and some other species of Strychnos. Chem. Form. C42H22N2O4. It exists in Nux Vomica in combination with Strychnic or Igasuric Acid.

Med. Prop. and Action. Similar, in every respect, to Nux Vomica (see Strychnos Nux Vomica). It is best given in the form of pill, with bread crumbs. Great caution is requisite in its use, as some persons are extremely susceptible of its action; and so powerful a poison is it, that Pelletier caused the death of a dog in five minutes, by blowing half a grain of it into its mouth. One grain, or even less, is sufficient to cause fatal results in man. (See also Strychnos Nux Vomica.)

Offic. Prep. Liquor StrychniAe (Strychnia in crystals grs. iv.; Dilute Hydrochloric Acid vj.; Rectified Spirit fl. drs. ij.; Distilled Water fl. drs. vj. Mix the Hydrochloric Acid with fl. drs. iv. of the Water, and dissolve the Strychnia in the mixture by the aid of heat. Then add the Spirit and the remainder of the Water). Half a grain of Strychnia is contained in fl. drm. j. Dose, iij. - xv.

Strychnia is often prescribed in combination with Iron or Quinine or both. (See Ferri et StrychniAe Citras.)

Dose of Strychnia or its Salts, gr. 1/32 - gr. 1/8, slowly and gradually increased. The late Dr. Marshall Hall considered the dose of the alkaloid as a tonic to be gr. 1/50 thrice daily; in larger doses he considered it stimulant. Strychnia should be immediately discontinued if it produce convulsive twitchings of the muscles.

Strychnia is frequently adulterated with Brucia, which may be detected by its striking a red colour on the addition of Nitric Acid.

The test for Strychnia is concentrated Sulphuric Acid with Bichromate of Potash. It yields a colourless solution with the acid, which, on the addition of the Bichromate, becomes of an intense violet colour, and then, passing through different shades of red, becomes after some hours of a pale yellow colour. If pure, Strychnia does not become red on the addition of Nitric Acid.

2626. Therapeutic Uses

In Paralysis, Strychnine has been used with very different results by different practitioners. This may arise from three causes: - 1, the impurity of the drug; 2, the inability of the constitution to bear the remedy; 3, its injudicious application to all forms of paralysis. It is, as Andral*

* Journ. de Physiologie, 1823.

justly observes, in those cases when, as if from habit, the paralysis continues after effusion has been absorbed, that the symptoms will improve under the use of Strychnine; but when the brain is still in a disordered state, and sanguineous effusion exists, it will have the effect of exciting inflammatory action, and will prove injurious rather than beneficial; he adds, that it is in those forms of paralysis not dependent upon disease of the nervous centres, that it is the most beneficial, as for instance in Lead or Mercurial Paralysis, and in that resulting from Rheumatism. Subsequent experience has shown the justice of these remarks; and hemiplegia, which is so often connected with cerebral hAemorrhage, is found to improve under Strychnine less than paraplegia or general paralysis. Dr. Watson* also judiciously observes that no good can reasonably be expected from it, but much harm, unless the cord be free from organic disease. It may be commenced in doses of 1/32 - 1/16 of a grain, twice or thrice daily, and cautiously increasing the quantity. After continuing the medicine for a few days or a week, slight convulsive twitchings, or a creeping sensation, will be experienced in the paralytic limb. The remedy should then be discontinued for two or three days, and resumed as before. The reason why the paralytic limb should be the first to feel the influence of the remedy has not yet been satisfactorily explained, although many ingenious suggestions have been offered. Cases in which it has been successfully employed are recorded by Andral. Bardsley, and Peterquin.§