Nux Vomica Strychnine And Brucine





=Nux Vomica= consists of the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica. From

these strychnine and brucine are obtained. The symptoms, post-mortem

appearances, and treatment, of poisoning by nux vomica are the same as

for strychnine.



=Strychnine= is a powerful poison, and forms the active ingredient of

many 'vermin-killers.' It occurs as a white powder or as colourless

crystals, with a persistent bitter taste; very slightly soluble in

water; more or less soluble in benzol, ether, and alcohol.



Symptoms.--Sense of suffocation, twitchings of muscles, followed by

tetanic convulsions and opisthotonos, each lasting half to two minutes.

Mental faculties unaffected, face congested and anxious; eyes staring,

lips livid; much thirst. The period of accession of the symptoms varies

with the mode of administration of the poison. Symptoms, as a rule, come

on soon after food has been taken. Patient may die within a few hours

from asphyxia or from exhaustion.



In Tetanus there is usually history of a wound; the symptoms come on

slowly; lockjaw is an early symptom, and only later complete

convulsions; the intervals between the fits are never entirely free from

rigidity. Death is delayed for some days.



Post-Mortem Appearances.--Heart empty, blood fluid, rigor mortis

persistent. Hands usually clenched; feet arched and inverted. Congestion

of brain, spinal cord, and lungs.



Treatment.--Emetics or stomach-pump if the patient is deeply

anæsthetized. Tannic acid and permanganate of potassium. Bromide of

potassium 1/2 ounce with chloral 30 grains, repeated if necessary.



Fatal Dose (Smallest).--Quarter of a grain.



Fatal Period (Shortest).--Ten minutes; usually two to four hours.



Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--The alkaloid may be separated

by the process of Stas-Otto.



Tests.--Strychnine has a characteristic, very bitter taste; it imparts

this taste to even very dilute solutions; it is unaffected by sulphuric

acid, but gives a purple-blue colour, changing to crimson and light red,

when the edge of this solution is touched with dioxide of manganese,

potassium bichromate, ferricyanide of potassium, or permanganate of

potassium. This test is so delicate as to show the 1/25000 of a grain of

the alkaloid. A very minute quantity (1/5000 grain) in solution placed

on the skin of a frog after drying causes tetanic convulsions.



=Brucine.=--This alkaloid, found associated with strychnine, possesses

the same properties, though in a less powerful degree. Nitric acid gives

a blood-red colour, changed to purple with protochloride of tin.





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