AskDefine | Define strychnine

Dictionary Definition

strychnine n : an alkaloid plant toxin extracted chiefly from nux vomica; formerly used as a stimulant

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

strychnine
  1. A very toxic, colourless crystalline alkaloid, derived from nux vomica, used as a pesticide

Translations

Extensive Definition

Strychnine ( (British, U.S.), /-naɪn/ or /-nɪn/ (U.S.)) is a very toxic (LD50 = 10 mg approx.), colorless crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as rodents. Strychnine causes muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia or sheer exhaustion. The most common source is from the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica tree. Strychnine is one of the most bitter substances known. Its taste is detectable in concentrations as low as 1 ppm.

Pharmacology

Strychnine acts as a blocker or antagonist at the inhibitory or strychnine-sensitive glycine receptor (GlyR), a ligand-gated chloride channel in the spinal cord and the brain.
Although it is best known as a poison, small doses of strychnine were once used in medications as a stimulant, a laxative and as a treatment for other stomach ailments. A 1934 drug guide for nurses described it as "among the most valuable and widely prescribed drugs". Strychnine's stimulant effects also led to its use historically for enhancing performance in sports. Because of its high toxicity and tendency to cause convulsions, the use of strychnine in medicine was eventually abandoned once safer alternatives became available.
The dosage for medical use was cited as between "1/60th grain–1/10th grain", which is between 1.1 milligrams and 6.4 milligrams in modern measures. Normally the maximum dosage used was 3.2 mg, half of a "full dose". A lethal dose was cited as 1/2 a grain (32 mg), but people have been known to die from as little as 5 mg of strychnine.

Strychnine in drugs

There is a common but false urban legend that strychnine is added to drugs like LSD or that strychnine is present in the peyote cactus. The dose of LSD is so small that it could not be mixed with a toxic amount of strychnine, even if strychnine made up an entire blotter square.

References

strychnine in Catalan: Estricnina
strychnine in Czech: Strychnin
strychnine in Danish: Stryknin
strychnine in German: Strychnin
strychnine in Spanish: Estricnina
strychnine in Esperanto: Striknino
strychnine in French: Strychnine
strychnine in Galician: Estricnina
strychnine in Italian: Stricnina
strychnine in Hebrew: סטריכנין
strychnine in Dutch: Strychnine
strychnine in Japanese: ストリキニーネ
strychnine in Polish: Strychnina
strychnine in Portuguese: Estricnina
strychnine in Romanian: Stricnină
strychnine in Russian: Стрихнин
strychnine in Slovak: Strychnín
strychnine in Finnish: Strykniini
strychnine in Swedish: Stryknin
strychnine in Thai: สตริกนิน
strychnine in Turkish: Striknin
strychnine in Ukrainian: Стрихнін
strychnine in Chinese: 番木鳖碱
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