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Botanical Name :Strychnos ignatia
Species: S. ignatia
Synonyms: Faba Ignatic. Ignatia amara (Linn.).
Habitat :Strychnos ignatia is native to Philippine Islands.
Strychnos ignatia is a large woody climbing shrub, introduced into Cochin China, and highly esteemed there as a medicine. It attracted the attention of the Jesuits, hence its name. In commerce the beans are about one full inch long; ovate, a dull blacky brown colour, very hard and horny, covered in patches with silvery adpressed hairs; endosperm translucent, enclosing an irregular cavity with an oblong embryo; no odour; taste extremely bitter. The fruit of Strychnos ignatii is the size and shape of a pear, and has almond-like seeds known as Saint Ignatius‘ beans. Each fruit contains about twelve to twenty seeds embedded in the pulp from which they have to be separated.
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Part Used: Ripe dried seeds.
Constituents: The beans have the same properties as Nux Vomica, but contain more strychnine, also brucine, a volatile principle extractive, gum, resin, colouring matter, a fixed oil, and bassorin; they contain no albumen or starch.
Tonic and stimulant in action like Nux Vomica, which, being cheaper, is nearly always used as a substitute. Old writers lauded these beans as a remedy against cholera. They are useful in certain forms of heart trouble, but must be used with the greatest caution, as they are a very active and powerful poison.
Historically, the pits of the S. Ignacio cured persons who had eaten something poisonous. A small piece of it, eaten and followed down with cold water, expelled the poison. It also stopped stomach cramps and the inflammation of the ileum. It cured lockjaw and helped women giving birth. Scrapped pieces could be ingested when chills started in order to lower the fever. Ground into a powder and placed over the affected area, it cured the effects of hairy worms called “basut.” Sucked as a candy, it eased arthritic pains and watery discharges due to indigestion. Cut into strips and fried in oil, it could be massaged into a paralyzed part of the body. It eased body aches as well.
It appears to possess an influence over the nervous system of a tonic and stimulating character, not belonging to Nux vomica or strychnine. It is never a remedy for conditions of excitation of the nervous system, but its key-note is atony; it is the remedy for nervous debility, and all that that term implies, being one of the best of nerve stimulants and nerve tonics. It was early recognized as a remedy for nervous debility, amenorrhea, chlorosis, etc. As a rule, the dose of ignatia administered is too large, a depressing headache often resulting from its immoderate use. The preparation mostly employed is specific ignatia, of which from 5 to 10 drops should be added to 4 fluid ounces of water, and the solution be administered in teaspoonful doses every 2 or 3 hours. Bearing in mind the condition of nervous atony, it may be successfully administered in anemia, where the patient is cold, and especially when coldness of the extremities is one of the distressing features of the menopause. It should be thought of in anemic states of the brain, and particularly in those cases where the patient exhibits hysterical, melancholic, or hypochondriacal demonstrations. It is a remedy for digestive disorders, such as atonic dyspepsia and chronic catarrh of the stomach, with atony, and gastralgia or gastrodynia. The sick headache of debility is relieved by it. Shifting, dragging, boring, or darting pains, deeply seated in the loins or lumbar region, are those benefited by ignatia. It is an important remedy in atonic reproductive disorders. Eclectics have not found it to be especially adapted to females only, as have the Homoeopaths declare it the remedy for women, while nux and strychnine are remedies for men. Sexual coldness in both sexes, impotence in the male and sterility in the female are remedied many times by the judicious administration of ignatia. The deep-seated pelvic pains of women, particularly ovarian pains and uterine colic are especially relieved by ignatia, which is also indicated in menstrual disorders with colic-like pains, heavy dragging of the ovaries, and an abnormally large and heavy womb. If added to these pelvic weaknesses, the general nervous system is greatly debilitated, there are wandering pelvic pains or pain in the right hypochondrium with constipation, neuralgia in other parts of the body, twitching, of the facial muscles, a tendency to paralysis, and choreic and epileptiform symptoms, associated with a disposition to grieve over one’s condition, the indications for ignatia are still stronger. But to obtain beneficial effects the dose must be small.
Homeopathy: The plant is the source of a homeopathic remedy known as ignatia, ignatia amara, or as iamara, which is used to treat grief, depression and other conditions.
Known Hazards:The beans of the plant contain the alkaloids strychnine and brucine. Strychnine is highly toxic, with an LD50 of 1-2 milligrams per kilogram, and was formerly used in rat poisons. Brucine is also toxic, but less so.
(Antidotes: Same as for strychnine, chloroform, belladonna, aconite, tobacco, chloral hydrate 1 drachm doses, morphia)
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.