This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics - Vegetable Kingdom", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica And Therapeutics: Vegetable Kingdom.
Active Ingredients. - Analysis proves the constituents of igna-tia seeds to be similar to those of nux-vomica, though in different proportions.
Physiological Action. - Given in small doses, gradually increased to a poisonous quantity, the symptoms which ignatia produces are as follows: Increase of the salivary secretion, nausea, heaviness, giddiness, headache, pain in the stomach, flatulence, a feeling in the limbs as if they had gone to sleep, accompanied by great weakness and twitchings throughout the body; constipation at first, and diarrhoea later on; constriction about the throat, numbness, torpor, mental depression, twitching of muscles, tetanic spasms; a feeling of intense anguish at the pit of the stomach; convulsions; cold sweats; and finally death by dyspnoea or asphyxia.
Therapeutic Action. - St. Ignatius' bean contains a much larger amount of strychnia than the strychnos nux-vomica, yet its effects are not identical with, though somewhat similar to, those of the latter.
(There is a very decided difference between the finer effects of ignatia and nux-vomica that is not explainable by the results of chemical analysis; comparative clinical experience, however, will quickly demonstrate this to the careful observer. The two drugs are by no means interchangeable.)
Ignatia is useful in many cases of hysteria, where the patient suffers from a feeling of suffocation, and a sensation as of a ball rising to the throat, whether or not attended by the usual symptoms of an ordinary hysterical paroxysm. It not only relieves the convulsive attacks, but in most instances prolongs the interval between them, and frequently prevents their return. Its effects are considerable in controlling, and even permanently removing, the convulsive bursts of crying or laughing, as well as the hiccough, the flatulent distention, and the general hyperaes-thesia (or the morbid increase of sensibility of the tissues). The intercostal neuralgia, so common in hysteria, is quickly removed by the agency of this drug; also clavus hystericus, the acute pain in the head, as if a nail were being driven into it. Where there is great mental excitement or depression, ignatia has a soothing effect. In hysterical women with whom aphonia frequently occurs, with few or no traces of catamenia, and often accompanied by profuse leucorrhœa, the symptoms named all disappear after a steady course of this medicine. It also corrects diseased appetite. I have often, with the happiest effect, used ignatia in the convulsions of children arising from intestinal irritation, such as worms or undigested food, but unattended with cerebral congestion. (In sleeplessness resulting from nervous erethism, ignatia in small doses will often afford relief more promptly and satisfactorily than morphia, and without the disagreeable after-effects of the latter. We have found it exert a marked control over the nervous exaltation that sometimes follows the prolonged use of quinine. Of all remedies with which we are acquainted it is par excellence the controller of functional phenomena of the cerebro-spinal axis. In large doses it excites, in small doses diminishes, the irritability of this organ.)
The constituents of the lignum colubrinum of Timor, the produce of the Strychnos Ugustrina, correspond with those of ignatia; and as this lignum colubrinum is held by the natives in great estimation as a cure for neuralgia and for paralysis of the lower extremities, I do not see why ignatia should not be tried in similar cases, on a more extended scale, and perhaps be proved to be a successful agent.
Ignatia is useful also in the treatment of dyspepsia, hypochondriasis, and various nervous affections. Of the two preparations of ignatia in use I prefer the tincture.
Preparations And Dose. - The only officinial preparation is the Extractum Ignatiae, the dose of which is somewhat less than that of nux-vomica, and should be large or small according to the kind of effect we desire to produce. The extract commonly dispensed is not, in our experience, a trustworthy preparation. We agree with the author in preferring a tincture.