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History - The toxic effects of Strychnine have been known since that days of ancient China. It was greatly valued in Cochin China as a medicine for heart conditions. In the Philippines and other parts of south East Asia, in folklore, it was thought to be a cure for cholera.
The strychnine extracted from both Nux Vomica and Ignatia amara was exported to Europe as a poison to kill rodents and small predators.
Although the Ignatia amara contains higher levels of strychnine than Nux vomica, the main source of the poison is from the Nux vomica, it being more common and less expensive.
Medicinal use - Kingís Americam Dispensatory states that ignatia is more energetic in is action than nux vomica, and is therefore never a remedy for conditions of excitation of the nervous system. Its key note is atony. It is the remedy for nervous debility, amenorrhea, chlorosis etc. Sexual coldness in both sexes, impotence in the male and sterility in the female.
Ellingwood, in 1919, advised the use of ignatia if there is a tendency to mental disorder, with suffocative mental symptoms. For globus hystericus and nervous headache in feeble women(sic!) with sleeplessness. Also at the age of puberty during the menarche, and at the menopause.
Dragging pains in the lower bowels, muscular twitchings of the face and lids, dullness of hearing, and burning in the bottoms of the feet
For hysterical females with nervous weakness from persistent uterine disorders.
An excellent remedy for sighing respiration; for melancholy where there is a tendency to weep.
Ellingwood makes the point that, ì though chemically and botanically similar, ignatia and nux vomica are not interchangeable.î Ignatia intensifies the impressionability of the senses, as compared to nux vomica where the excitability is exhibited by anger, vehemence and irascibility.
Perhaps the last word should go to Dr. O. Phelps Brown, in his book, Herbalistì The Complete , or The People, Their Own Physicians ì in 1872.
It is used in nervous debility, amenorrhoea, chlorosis, epilepsy, worms etc. with partial good effect, but is a dangerous article however well prepared, and should only be used by the advice of a professional gentleman, upon whose truth and ability you may place the utmost confidence.
J Ethnopharmacol. 1992 Feb;36(1):57-62.
Analysis of some Malaysian dart poisons.
Kopp B, Bauer WP, Bernkop-Schnurch A.
Institute of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna, Austria.
An investigation of nine Malaysian dart poisons has confirmed that their main active components are cardenolides from Antiaris toxicaria (Pers.) Lesch. and alkaloids probably from different forms of Strychnos ignatii P. Bergius. It is not possible to determine the ethnic origin of the poisons from the results of the analyses on their own. Two new cardiac glycosides have been isolated and their structures determined as 12 beta-hydroxycannogenin 3 beta-O-beta-D-deoxygulopyranoside and 3 beta-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside, respectively.