Family: Loganiaceae

Bengali/Vernacular Name: Kuchila, Thalkessur.

English Name: Snake wood. Nux-vomica, Strychnine Tree.

Description of the Plant:
A small deciduous tree, up to 30 m high, often with short, sharp, strong, axillary spines. Leaves 7.5-15 cm long, broadly elliptic, acute, obtuse or shortly acuminate, glabrous, base usually rounded. Flowers numerous, in terminal, pedunculate, pubescent, compound cymes; corolla up to 1.3 cm long, greenish. Fruit globose, 2.5-7.5 cm across, shining, orange-red when ripe.

Using Information:
Dried seeds are powerful poison in large doses and in small doses it is nervine tonic, stomachic, aphrodisiac and spinal stimulant; also respiratory and cardiac stimulant. Seeds are also used as an anodyne, emetic and purgative. It contains various toxic alkaloids. Seed extracts are much used in homeopathic medicines. Nux–vomica is an effective animal poison. Leaf poultice when applied, promotes healthy action in sloughing wounds and ulcers. Roots and stem bark are used in fevers; an infusion of bark is prescribed for epilepsy. Pills made from root bark along with lime-juice are said to be effective in cholera. Wood is a popular remedy for dysentery, fevers and dyspepsia.

Ethanolic extract of the leaf possesses good antibacterial and poor antifungal properties (Taniya, 2004).

Chemical Constituents:
All parts, particularly the seeds, contain mainly a large number of monomeric tertiary indole alkaloids. A dimeric tertiary alkaloid and a few quaternary alkaloids are present in the seed endosperm. Others include α-colubrine, β-colubrine, icajine, protostrychnine, vomicine, novacine, N-oxystrychnine, pseudo-strychnine and iso-strychnine. Leaves, bark, wood and root contain strychnine and brucine. Leaves also contain malvacurine, methoxystrychnine, icajine and vomicine as the major alkaloid. Root bark contains vomicine, methoxystrychnine and C-mavacurine. Fruits contain hydroxystrychnine, secologanin, iso-strychnine and methoxyicajine.

Strychnos Nux Vomica

The glycoside loganin is present in the pulp. Five tertiary indole alkaloids, strychnine, brucine, vomicine, icajine and novacine have been isolated from the flowers. Seeds also contain chlorogenic acid, a glycoside, loganin, fixed oil, stigmasterol and proteins (Ghani, 2003; Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1990). P-hydroxybenzoic, vanillic, 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzoic, sinapic and syringic acids and kaempferol, quercetin and 3′-O-methylquercetin, pseudobrucine are also found to be present in plant (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1993).

Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong.

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Retutn to Medicinal Plants: Part S