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Nux vomica is the homeopathic remedy that is created from the seeds of the strychnos nux vomica tree. Also known as poison nut or vomiting nut, this tree is an evergreen tree that is native to East India, Burma, Thailand, China, and Northern Australia.
The tree belongs to the Loganiaceae family and has small flowers and orange colored fruits that are the size of an apple or orange. Inside the fruit are five seeds surrounded by a jelly-like pulp. The ash gray seeds are round and measure 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter and are .25 in (0.6 cm) thick. The seeds are coated with downy hairs that give them a satiny appearance.
The main alkaloids in the seeds are strychnine and brucine. These alkaloids give the seeds their bitter taste. Strychnine by itself is extremely poisonous, but when given in small doses to humans it promotes appetite, aids digestion, and increases the frequency of urination. In the nineteenth century it was used as a central nervous stimulant. In larger doses, however, strychnine produces a loss of appetite, hypersensitivity, depression, anxiety, and rigidity and stiffness of arms and legs. Toxic doses may cause convulsions and death. Some historians think that Alexander the Great died from drinking wine poisoned by strychnine.
Medicinal use of the nut dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century, where it was written about extensively by Valerius Cordus. Germans used the nut as a treatment for worms, rabies, hysteria, rheumatism, gout, and as an antidote for the plague.
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