St. Ignatius beans are the dried ripe seeds of Strychnos Ignatii, Berg. (N.O. Loganiaceae), a woody, climbing shrub indigenous to Samar and others of the Philippine Islands. The plant produces a large spherical or ovoid fruit, measuring 10 centimetres or more in diameter, and containing about a dozen seeds embedded in a pulp, from which they have to be separated. The beans are of a dull, dark grey colour, and irregularly ovoid shape, measuring about 2.5 centimetres in length. Mutual pressure in the fruit has rendered them three, four, or five-sided and bluntly angular. Patches of the dull, greyish seed-coat bearing numerous, appressed hairs are to be found on them but the greater part has been rubbed off, disclosing the dark endosperm. The hilum is visible at one end of the seed. The very copious endosperm is usually hollow in the centre, where the embryo with its small leafy cotyledons is to be found. The taste is very bitter.
Constituents.—The seeds contain from 2.5 to 3.0 per cent. of alkaloid, about two-thirds of which consists of strychnine and one-third of brucine. They contain therefore rather more strychnine than nux vomica.
Action and Uses.—St. Ignatius beans have the medicinal properties of nux vomica seeds. They are used principally as a bitter and as a tonic. The tincture is added to mixtures or given as drops; in Continental practice a more concentrated preparation (1 in 2) is used under the name "Gouttes Amères de Baumé." The powdered drug may be administered in cachets or pills with other stomachics and digestives. In cases of poisoning by St. Ignatius bean, the antidotes for strychnine should be administered.
Dose.—3 to 12 centigrams (1/2 to 2 grains).
- Tinctura Fabae Ignatii Composita, Ph.F.—COMPOUND TINCTURE OF IGNATIUS.
- St. Ignatius beans, 100; potassium carbonate, 2.5; wood charcoal, 0.5; alcohol (70 per cent.), by weight, 500. Macerate in a closed vessel for ten days, shaking occasionally, express the liquid, and filter.
- Tinctura Ignatii Amarae, B.P.C.—TINCTURE OF IGNATIA. 1 in 10.
- Used as a bitter tonic in place of tincture of nux vomica. Dose.—3 to 12 decimils (5 to 20 minims).
- Tinctura Ignatiae Alkalina, C.F.—ALKALINE TINCTURE OF IGNATIA. Gouttes Amères de Baumé.
- St. Ignatius' bean, 50; potassium carbonate, 0.52; alcohol (60 per cent sufficient to produce 100. Macerate for ten days and filter. Dose.—3 to 12 decimils (5 to 20 minims).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.