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The powerful cardiac properties of the drug were recognized by Sharpey (1862), Pelikan (1865), Fraser (1871), but not until about 1885 did strophanthus gain a foothold in medical practice. As the demand for strophanthus began to increase, substitution by allied, though often inert, species became frequent. It was, therefore, recommended that the seeds be purchased in the follicles, and that chemical tests for the active principle, strophanthin, be applied to the seeds (see Chemical Composition). (Regarding substitution of the seeds by Kickxia Africana, Bentham, see E. M. Holmes, Pharm. Jour. Trans., Vol. XVII, 1886-87, p. 903; and P. Siedler, Ber. d. Deutsch. Pharm. Ges., 1898, pp. 222-228.)
Although, as before stated, the genus Strophanthus was established as far back as the year 1802, it was not until the early 60's that the drug came to the general notice of Europeans as being one of the several arrow-poisons (e. g., inée or onaye, in Senegambia, from S. hispidus, and S. Kombé, on the east coast, from S. Kombé) used among the African native tribes. (Regarding details on arrow-poisons, see article on Strophanthus, by J. U. Lloyd, in Western Druggist, 1897, p. 403, from which most of the subject herein presented is derived.) In this connection, the following observation, regarding arrow-poisons among the American Indians, may be of interest: "In some of my western work I have found among the Indians that the poisoning of their arrows, while mixed up a great deal with useless ceremonials, and often, no doubt, nearly useless plant extracts, has a basis in some sort of poison, probably ptomaine, or something of that character, derived from rotten meat. This was the case among the Klamath and Modoc Indians" (Frederick V. Coville, botanist to United States Government, in a private letter to Prof. Lloyd).