This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
The characteristic symptom is the special influence exerted upon the nervous system,
which is manifested by a general contraction of all the muscles of the body, with rigidity of the spinal column. A profound calm soon succeeds, which is followed by a new tetanic seizure, longer than the first, during which the respiration is suspended. These symptoms then cease, the breathing becomes easy, and there is stupor, followed by another general contraction. In fatal cases these attacks are renewed, at intervals, with increasing violence, until death ensues. One phenomenon which is found only in poisonings by substances containing strychnine is that touching any part of the body, or even threatening to do so, instantly produces the tetanic spasm. Antidote: The stomach should be immediately cleared by means of an emetic, tickling the fauces, etc. To counteract the asphyxia from tetanus, etc., artificial respiration should be practiced with diligence and care. "If the poison has been applied externally, we ought immediately to cauterize the part, and apply a ligature tightly above the wound.. If the poison has been swallowed for some time we should give a purgative clyster, and administer draughts containing sulphuric ether or oil of turpentine, which in most cases produce a salutary effect. Lastly, injections of chlorine and decoction of tannin are of value."
According to Ch. Gunther the greatest reliance may be placed on full doses of opium, assisted by venesection, in cases of poisoning by strychnia or nux vomica. His plan is to administer this drug in the form of solution or mixture, in combination with a saline aperient.
Another treatment is to give, if obtainable, 1 ounce or more of bone charcoal mixed with water, and follow with an active emetic; then to give chloroform in teaspoonful doses, in flour and water or glycerine, every few minutes while the spasms last, and afterwards brandy and stimulants, and warmth of the extremities if necessary. Recoveries have followed the free and prompt administration of oils or melted butter or lard. In all cases empty the stomach if possible.