Medical Uses of Strychnos Nux-Vomica – Ben Cao Medical Book

1. Description:

Strychnos nux-vomica (scientific name: Strychnos nux-vomica Linn. , also known as strychnine tree, nux vomica, poison nut, semen strychnos and quaker buttons; Chinese Pinyin: Ma Qian Zi, Simplified Chinese: 马钱子, 番木鳖, 苦实把豆儿, 苦实, 马前), is a species of deciduous flowering poisonous tree in genus Strychnos (botanical Loganiaceae family). Found on hillsides and open forest in Asia (China, India, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka), the plant can grow up to 25 m tall. The seeds of Strychnos nux-vomica is used as stimulant and discutient in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as rheumatism.

2. Odour, Properties And Channels:

The seed of Strychnos nux-vomica is considered to have bitter, warm and toxic properties and to be associated with the liver and spleen meridians.

3. Uses, Health Benefits of Strychnos Nux-vomica & Medical Formulas:

3.1 Typhoid Fever

Propose dosage of Strychnos nux-vomica seed is kept in mouth to treat typhoid fever.

3.2 Hemiplegia

Pills made with Strychnos nux-vomica seed, licorice root and honey is taken orally to treat hemiparesis, or unilateral paresis (weakness of one entire side of the body).

3.3 Skin Health

A mixture of Gelsemium elegans, Angelica root, indigo naturalis, Galla Chinensis, dried alum, Strychnos nux-vomica seeds, Aspidistra lurida Ker Gawl root, resin of kaput wood, rosin (also called colophony or Greek pitch, it is a solid form of resin obtained from pines, Chinese: 松香) and realgar are powdered and used externally to treat mange in humans.

3.4 Pain Relieving

Water solution of powdered Strychnos nux-vomica seed is used as a mouth wash to relieve severe toothache.

4. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions:

Administration with caution for pregnant women.

Long term usage can cause negative consequences.

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The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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