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Strychnos Ignatii

The part of the plant employed is the seed, known in addition to the above common names as Pepita de San Ignacio and Pepita de Cabalonga

it to the temples for headache. In bites of poisonous animals they advise the application of the powdered seed over the wound, a treatment which instead of being beneficent might easily be harmful to the patient. Before proceeding further, let us give the chemical composition of the seeds in order that their uses may be the better understood.

Strychnine is found in them in the proportion of ½–1½ and brucine ½%–1.4%.

Flückiger and Hanbury by drying it over sulphuric acid and burning it with “cal sòdica” obtained 1.78% of nitrogen which represents 10% of albuminoid material. Strychnine and brucine exist in combination with igasuric acid discovered by Ludwig in 1873. The proportion of both the alkaloids is greater than in the seeds of nux vomica which contain only .25–.50% strychnine and .12–.05% brucin, although some authors give it as high as 1.01%. Strychnine can be obtained more readily and in larger proportions from St. Ignatius bean, but it is generally obtained from nux vomica seeds on account of the cheapness of the latter.

It is more energetic than nux vomica and its use in medicine should be condemned, preference, however, being given to the official preparations among which the best known is that commonly called “Bitter Drops of Beaumé,” of which the following is the composition: Grated St. Ignatius’ beans 500 grams.

Potassium carbonate 5 grams.

Soot (?) 1 gram.

60% alcohol 1,000 grams.

Macerate for 10 days, strain, express and filter. Dose, 1–16 drops in a little water or wine before each meal, for dyspepsia, anæmia, convalescence from fevers, and other conditions in which a tonic is indicated. The indications for the use of this drug are the same as those for nux vomica, keeping in mind the difference in dose.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—This plant grows in the deep forests of Samar and Masbate. That industrious and distinguished botanist, D. Regino García, found it growing abundantly in Paranas, Island of Samar. It is a robust vine, the trunk sometimes as thick as a man’s thigh, climbing to the tops of the highest trees, apparently without preference as to its host, inasmuch as he saw it growing indifferently on Ficus, Dipterocarpus, Litsaca, etc. The seed which most interests us and is very common, is about the size of an olive, round and convex on one side, angulose and flattened on the other by being compressed with many others within the fruit which contains 50 of them. Its surface is blackish with a gray-blue tinge. It is hard and corneous. Its taste is extremely bitter.

Branches opposite, smooth, the ends square. Leaves opposite, oval, much pointed at the apex, entire, glabrous, with 3 prominent nerves. Petioles very short. Flowers in panicles of many flowerets. Calyx inferior, 5-cleft, very short.

Corolla 6–7 times longer than the calyx, funnel-form, 5-lobed. Anthers 5, sessile, fixed in the throat of the corolla. Ovary very small. Style filiform, same length as the stamens. Stigma truncate and thick. Drupe globose, often oval, large, smooth, with thick, woody shell of a single compartment containing seeds as described above.

Reference book: The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines

Tags: Medical plants, Medicine, healing, Injuries, Doctors,

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