No certain cure has been or is likely to be discovered for their poison, but in less serious cases strychnine has been used with advantage.
The Poisons and Pharmacy Act of 1908 extended the schedule of poisons instituted by the act of 1868, and it now includes arsenic, aconite, aconitine and their preparations; all poisonous vegetable alkaloids, and their salts and poisonous derivatives; atropine and its salts and their preparations; belladonna and all preparations or admixtures (except belladonna plasters) containing 0.1% or more of belladonna alkaloid; cantharides and its poisonous derivatives; any preparation or admixture of coca-leaves containing 0.1% or more of coca alkaloids; corrosive sublimate; cyanide of potassium and all poisonous cyanides and their preparations; tartar emetic, nux vomica, and all preparations or admixtures containing 0.2% or more of strychnine; opium and all preparations and admixtures containing 1% or more of morphine; picro-toxine; prussic acid and all preparations and admixtures containing o i% or more of prussic acid; savin and its oil, and all preparations or admixtures containing savin or its oil.
Hofmann, who obtained it by saturating an alcoholic solution of ammonium sulphide with sulphur and mixing the product with an alcoholic solution of strychnine, considered the resulting product to be H2S3; while P. Sabatier by fractionating the crude product in vacuo obtained an oi l which boiled between 60° and 85° C. and possessed the composition H4S5.
As in strychnine poisoning, the patient is conscious and clear-minded to the last.
Alcohol, strychnine and warmth must also be employed.
A species of Acarus is recorded as infesting a store of powdered strychnine and feeding on that drug, so poisonous to larger organisms. Reference to literature (40).
It is very similar to strychnine, both chemically and physiologically.
Fraser proved that by substitution of molecules in certain compounds a stimulant could be converted into a sedative action; thus by the addition of the methyl group CH 2 to the molecule of strychnine, thebaine or brucine, the tetanizing action of these drugs is converted into a paralysing action.
Also (d +1) mannonic acid can be split into the d and 1 acids by fractional crystallization of the strychnine or brucine salts.
In this case stimulants and strychnine may be given, but they should be avoided until it is certain the bleeding has been properly controlled, as they tend to increase it.
Hypodermic injection of strychnine, in some cases as much as one to two grains (but not into a vein!), has in some cases had good results; but injection of ammonia, instead of doing any good, has disastrous sloughing results.
Piperine, conine, atropine, belladonine, cocaine, hyoscyamine and nicotine have been already synthesized; the constitution of several others requires confirmation, while there remain many important alkaloids - quinine, morphine, strychnine, &c. - whose constitution remains unknown.
(3) Quinoline group. The alkaloids of the quina-barks: quinine, &c.; the strychnos bases: strychnine, brucine; and the veratrum alkaloids: veratrine, cevadine, &c.
(The tetanus antitoxin should invariably be employed as well.) Sir Thomas Fraser differs from nearly all other authorities in regarding the drug as useless in cases of strychnine poisoning, and the question must be left open.
Strychnine crystallizes from alcohol in colourless prisms, which are practically insoluble in water, and with difficulty soluble in the common organic solvents.
Brucine closely resembles strychnine, and is its dimethoxy derivative.
The B.P. dose of strychnine is to gr.
A preparation is syrupus ferri phosphatis cum quinina et strychnine, containing gr.
Of strychnine in each fluid drachm.
Strychnine is incompatible with liquor arsenicalis and potassium iodide.
Applied externally strychnine is a powerful antiseptic, but its poisonous nature prevents it from being used for this purpose.
Brucine is a local anaesthetic. Strychnine enters the blood as such, being freely absorbed from mucous surfaces or when given hypodermically.
Internally strychnine acts as a bitter, increasing the secretion of gastric juice and the intestinal peristalsis, being a direct stimulant to the muscular coat; in this manner it has a purgative action.
Strychnine is eliminated by the kidneys as strychnine and strychnic acid.
Strychnine is chiefly used as a stimulant.
In pneumonia and other acute disease, where the patient is liable to sudden collapse, a hypodermic injection of strychnine will often save the patient's life.
In acute opium poisoning strychnine is very valuable.
In dyspnoea due to emphysema, phthisis and asthma, strychnine is of service, given internally in doses of i to 3 minims of the liquor.
The syrup of iron, quinine and strychnine is used as a tonic.
The symptoms of strychnine poisoning usually appear within twenty minutes of the ingestion of a poisonous dose, starting with an uneasy sensation, stiffness at the back of the neck, twitching of the muscles and a feeling of impending suffocation.
Tetanus resembles strychnine poisoning, but the development of the symptoms in tetanus is usually much slower, death rarely occurring within 24 hours.
In strychnine poisoning trismus or lockjaw is generally secondary to spasm of the other muscles, while in tetanus it is usually the first symptom, no relaxation taking place between the spasms.
The treatment of strychnine poisoning is to immediately evacuate the stomach with a stomach-pump or emetic, chloroform being administered to allay the spasms. If the patient can swallow, draughts of water containing tannic acid may be given.
The uses of chloroform which fall to be mentioned here are: - as a counter-irritant; as a local anaesthetic for toothache due to caries, it being applied on a cotton wool plug which is inserted into the carious cavity; as an antispasmodic in tetanus and hydrophobia; and as the best and most immediate and effective antidote in cases of strychnine poisoning.
This is indeed, as Sir Thomas Fraser has pointed out, "a strychnine action."
It is to be noted that children, who are particularly susceptible to the influence of certain of the other potent alkaloids, such as morphine and strychnine, will take relatively large doses of atropine without ill-effect.
When the nervous system is below par, and both secretion and movements are deficient in the stomach, nervine tonics, such as nux vomica or strychnine, are most useful.
In such cases nux vomica or strychnine is useful.
Of the other alkaloids narceine is hypnotic, like morphine and codeine, whilst thebaine, papaverine and narcotine have an action which resembles that of strychnine, and is, generally speaking, undesirable or dangerous if at all well marked.
In infants especially opium acts markedly upon the spinal cord, and, just as strychnine is dangerous when given to young children, so opium, because of the strychnine-like alkaloid it contains, should never be administered, under any circumstances or in any dose, to children under one year of age.
Crum Brown and Fraser of Edinburgh showed that, whilst thebaine acts like strychnine, methyl and ethyl thebaine act like curara, paralysing the terminals of motor nerves.