Syn.—Strychnos; Nux Vomica; Vomit Weed.
N. H.—East Indies.
Properties: Tonic and stimulant.
Physiological action: Its influence is on the spinal cord and the medulla oblongata, stimulating the reflex vaso-motor functions and very slightly the sensory. The large multipolar ganglia in the anterior column, are mostly affected, being stimulated by small doses and paralyzed by toxic doses. It is only very slowly eliminated from the system. Moderate doses stimulate the motor and inhibitory centers of the heart and contract the arterioles, and raise arterial tension by stimulating the vaso-motor centers, while a full dose relaxes the arterioles. The elevation of arterial blood pressure, stronger heart's action, increased action of-sweat glands, dilation of pupils in large doses shows its powerful influence on the sympathetic nervous system. A full dose will cause twitching of the eyelids, dryness of the throat twitching of the muscles, jerking of the limbs, stiffness in the lower jaws, drawing down of the corners of the mouth. In some cases it also causes a creeping, tingling sensation in the skin. The severer symptoms from large toxic doses are constriction of the throat, headache, dizziness, neuralgic pain in spine, unsteady, tottering gait, rigidity of the muscles, especially of the extensors, intermittent tetanic convulsions, opisthotonos. There is labored breathing, pulse becomes rapid and fluttering, pupils dilate with a staring expression of fear. The least stimulus will bring on a spasm. As the system becomes exhausted spasms become less violent; patient finally becoming asphyxiated through spasm and paralysis of the respiratory muscles.
Indications: In impairment of tone of the gastro-intestinal apparatus. Broad, pallid tongue, sallow face, yellowish ring around the mouth. Abdominal or gastric pains pointing or radiating towards the umbilicus in absence of inflammation or irritation.
Use: In minute doses it tones up the digestive organs; will relieve constipation, the result of atony by increasing peristalsis. It is a direct stimulant to the spinal cord and medulla oblongata. Where there is spinal enervation resulting in feeble respiration, which in some cases is so marked that it can only be carried on tinder the influence of the will, it is the only remedy that we can rely on at the present time. We think of it in constipation, nausea and vomiting, colic, and indigestion from overeating; if the tongue is broad and pallid, showing a condition of atony. Of value in dipsomania and impotency. There are many conditions in which nux vomica is a valuable remedy but where its sexual stimulation results in over-indulgence its otherwise beneficial effect will be lost. To avoid this stimulating effect on the reproductive organs it should be associated with avena sativa; the tonic effect of nux vomica to the system will be equally pronounced, but no undesirable stimulation exerted on the sexual organs.
The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.