Botanical and Common Names
- Family Loganiaceae
- Strychnos nux-vomica (Nux Vomica, Poison Nut, Quaker Buttons)
- Strychnos ignatii (Ignatius Beans)
- Because of its strychnine content, the plant can be lethal, therefore, only homeopathic preparations issued under professional guidance is recommended.
Native to southeast Asia, the evergreen tree grows to about fifty feet, producing glossy oval leaves, tubular white flowers, and yellow fruit containing five to eight disk-shaped seeds, which are gathered when mature. Nux Vomica is a member of a widespread and diversified tropical and sub-tropical genus which is characterized by the poisonous alkaloid content of the fruits and seeds. Although it grows wild, it is also cultivated for commercial purposes.
The seeds were first brought to Europe in the 15th century, likely as a poison for game and rodents.
In 1640, the seeds were first used in European medicine as a stimulant.
Related species are equally as potent and have long been used as arrow poisons, including S. malaccensis, from southeast Asia. S. unguacha, native to tropical Africa, is one that produces edible fruits that are also used medicinally. A species native to Indonesia, S. ligustria, is used to treat fever, intestinal worms, and snake bite.
- digestive stimulant
- nervous system stimulant
- pain reliever
- relieve paralysis
- indole alkaloids (3% predominantly strychnine and brucine as well as many others)
- chlorgenic acid
- fixed oil
- In a Chinese clinical trial, a paste made from nux vomica seeds was applied to 15,000 patients with Bell’s palsy. The success rate was more than 80%.
Nux vomica is a common homeopathic medicine prescribed for digestive problems, sensitivity to cold, and irritability.
Preparations of the Ignatius Bean are used to treat faintness, but therapeutic use as a bitter or tonic is not recommended.