Specification & Spread

Strychnine seeds — semina strychni (nux vomica)
Strychnine — strychnos nux-vomica l.
Loganiaceae family — loganiaceae
Other names: strychnine.
It is a tropical deciduous small tree 5-15 m tall.
The stock is thick, highly curved, the young plant has thorns.
The leaves are opposite, petiolate, ovate-elliptic with a pointed tip, entire, with 3-5 arcuate veins.
The flowers are small, regular, five-membered, with a double perianth, gathered in the apical half-umbrellas.
The corolla is nail-like, greenish.
The fruit is a large (3-5.5 cm in diameter) spherical orange-red berry, similar to a small orange. The rind is firm, inside is a colorless gelatinous pulp, containing 2-6 round, flattened, discoid seeds, covered with thin transparent white hairs.
It grows throughout tropical Asia from India to Northern Australia. In the CIS it is not cultivated. The raw materials are imported.


The chemical composition of strychnine The seeds contain 2-3% of the amount of alkaloids – derivatives of indole, consisting almost of equal parts of strychnine and brucine.
The remaining alkaloids are not more than 0.1% and have no practical value.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. Gather mature fruits, dissect it and choose seeds, discard underdeveloped and rotten ones.
Drying. At a temperature of 50-60 °C.

The old seeds are round in shape, with a diameter of 1.5-2.5 cm, 3-6 mm thick, on one side slightly convex, on the other – concave or flat, it is slightly bent. In the center of the convex side there is a scar in the form of a small tubercle.
The seed colour is grey, greenish or brownish grey. Outside, the seeds are silky-shiny due to numerous hairs closely adjacent to the surface of the seed, radially diverging from the center. The seeds are very hard, corneous.
The smell is absent. The taste is not determined. Toxic(!).

Properties and application

Strychnine and other preparations of strychnine:

  • excite the central nervous system and first of all increase reflex excitability.

Under the influence of strychnine reflex reactions become more generalized:

  • at high doses, various stimuli cause severe painful tetanic convulsions, leading to death from asphyxiation or heart failure.

In therapeutic doses, strychnine has a stimulating effect on the senses (sharpens vision, taste, hearing, tactile sensation):

  • excites vasomotor and respiratory centers,
  • tones the skeletal muscles, as well as the heart muscle,
  • stimulates the exchange processes,
  • increases the sensitivity of the retina.

Application of strychnine
Strychnine preparations are used as tonic:

  • with a general decrease in the exchange processes,
  • fatigue,
  • hypotension,
  • weakening of cardiac activity due to intoxication and infections,
  • with some functional disorders of the visual apparatus;
  • with atony of the stomach, etc.
  • With an overdose there are possible:
  • tension of facial, occipital and other muscles,
  • difficulty breathing, in severe cases – tetanic convulsions, which can lead to death from asphyxiation or heart failure.
  • Hypertension,
  • bronchial asthma,
  • atherosclerosis,
  • angina pectoris,
  • hepatitis,
  • acute and chronic nephritis,
  • hyperkinesis,
  • propensity for convulsive reactions,
  • Graves’ disease;
  • pregnancy.