Nux-vomica is also known as Vishtinduka (Visha means poison), Vishamushthi, and Poison-nut due to its poisonous properties. It is a powerful poison in large doses, producing convulsions and even death. In Ayurveda, this tree is included in Upvisha Varg (sub poisonous group).
The seeds of Kuchala are used in Ayurveda only after proper shodhan or purification. The detoxified seeds of Kuchla are used in treatment of neuralgia, facial palsy, hemiplegia, arthritis, gout, muscle pain, nerve pain etc. in low recommended dosage only. The seeds are nervine tonic and digestive.
Nux-vomica gives relief in excessive vata and pain. It strengthens and stimulates nerves. It is a good appetizer, digestive and cures indigestion.
The botanical name of Kuchla/Kupilu/ Vishatinduka is Strychnos nux-vomica Linn. It belongs to plant family Loganiaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Asteridae
- Order: Gentianales
- Family: Loganiaceae – Logania family
- Genus: Strychnos L. – strychnos
- Species: Strychnos nux-vomica L. – strychnine tree
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: mainly seeds.
- Plant type: Tree.
- Ayurvedic: Kapilu, Kakatinduka, Kakendu, Kakapiluka, Vishamushtikaa, Vishamushti, Vishatinduka, Kuchila, Ksuchala
- Unani: Azaraaqi, Kuchla.
- Siddha: Yettikkottai
- Assamese: Ajraki, Habbul gurab, Kucila
- Bengali: Kuchila
- English: Poison-nut tree, Nux vomica, Strychnine tree, Snake-wood
- Gujrati: Konchala, Jher Kochla, Kuchla, Zer Kochalu
- Hindi: Kuchala, Kuchila, Bish tendu, Bailewa, Chibbige, Chilbinge, Kajra
- Kannada: Kanjihemushti, Manjira, Hemmushti, Ittongi, Kasarkayi
- Malayalam: Kajjl, Kanniram
- Marathi: Kajra, Kuchla
- Punjabi: Kuchla
- Tamil: Yettimaram, Kakotee, Ettikottai, Ettikkai
- Telugu: Mushti, Mushini
- Urdu: Azaraqi, Kuchla
- Arabic: Izaragi, Khanek-ul-kella
- Persian: Fulusmahi, Izaraki
A deciduous tree, upto 30 m high, often with sharp axillary spines;Leaves broadly elliptic, 7.5-15 x 4.5 -7.5 cm, 5-nerved, glabrous, shining;Flowers greenish white, in terminal, pedunculate, compound cymes;Fruit globose, 2.5 – 7.5 cm in diameter, orange-red when ripe;Seeds greenish-grey to grey, extremely hard, silky to touch with a satiny sheen;disc-shaped, almost flat, umbonate but a few seeds somewhat irregularly bent, 10 to 30 mm in diameter, 4 to 6 mm thick, margin rounded or depressed;when cut open, endosperm found to be horny, having a central cavity in which the embryo is situated with two small, thin, cordate, leafy cotyledons with 5 to 7 veins and a terete radicle;odourless.
Nux-vomica is found throughout tropical India up to an altitude of 360 m, in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Coromandel coast, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is most common in the forests along the western coast.
Constituents of Nux-vomica seeds
Alkaloids, Indole Alkaloids, Strychnine & Brucine, Monoterpenoid Glycoside (Loganin), α, β -Colubrine, Vomicine.
Strychnine C21H22N2O2 is poisonous alkaloid. It is bitter in taste and slightly soluble in water. It affects affecting the cerebro-spinal system.
Kuchla is used in treatment of Vata diseases. It is nervine tonic and central nervous system CNS stimulant. It reduces kapha. In Ayurveda, the seeds of tree are used only after proper detoxification. It is a powerful poison.
In Ayurveda, the following properties and action of Nux-vomica are described.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya: Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Action: Shoth-har, Vedanasthapana, Uttejaka, Nadibalya, Deepana, Pachan, Grahi, Hriday-uttejak, Kaphaghna, Kasa-har, Vajikaran, Balya, Kushthaghna, Kandughna, Jantunashana, Vranshodhana.
Therapeutic uses: indigestion, piles, itching, Gastro Enteritis, wounds, paralysis, nerves weakness, sciatica, arthritis.
- Abortifacient: abortion causing.
- Antiperiodic: preventing periodic returns of disease.
- Convulsant: producing sudden and involuntary muscle contractions.
- CNS stimulant: speed up physical and mental processes.
- Emmenagogue: stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
- Sedatives, anodynes, tonic
- Stomachic: promoting the appetite or assisting digestion.
- Nervine tonic: acts therapeutically upon the nerves, particularly in the sense of a sedative that serves to calm ruffled nerves.
- Respiratory stimulant: increase in respiratory rate and tidal volume
- Nux vomica is also used as rat poison due to presence of alkaloids strychnine and brucine.
Medicinal Uses of Nux vomica
The root bark is bitter, tonic, febrifuge. It is useful in cholera, snakebite and intermittent fever.
The leaves are applied as poultice in the treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers.
The seeds are bitter, nervine, tonic, alexiteric, aphrodisiac, appetiser, antiperiodic, anthelmintic, emetic, digestive, febrifuge, emmenagogue, purgative, stimulant and stomachic. They are useful in anemia, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, colic, intermittent and malarial fevers, insomnia, skin diseases, nervous debility, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, hysteria, mental emotions, epilepsy, chronic constipation, gout, chronic rheumatism, hydrophobia, spermatorrhoea, opium or lead poisoning, paralysis and weakness of limbs.
- Nux vomica is UNSAFE.
- The seed contains the toxic alkaloid strychnine.
- Strychnine is also found in roots, wood, bark, fruit pulp and hard fruit shells.
- The strychnine can cause liver damage.
- Due to presence of alkaloids and chemicals, Nux vomica seeds affects the brain and cause muscle contractions. This can lead to convulsions and death.
- Small amount of Strychnine can be stored in body with continued use, especially in people with liver disease. This can cause death in a period of weeks.
- It increases menstrual flow and causes abortion.
- Lethal dose of seeds is 1-2 grams of seeds.