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  Strychnos ignatii (syn  Ignatia amara, Strychnos ignatia, Strychnos tieute) 

Family: Loaniaceae Names: St. Ignatius bean, bean of St. Ignatius, Ignatius-bean, upas tieute. Ignatiusbohne (German), Bittere Fiebernuss, Ignasbohnen.  

Pharmaceutical Name: faba ignatii, faba santi ignatii, semen ignatiae. 

Description: A branching tree, with long, tapering, smooth, scrambling branches. The leaves are ovate, acute, petiolate, veiny, smooth, and a span long. Hooks none. Panicles small, axillary, 3 to 5-flowered, with short, round, rigid pedicels. The flowers are very long, nodding, white, smelling like Jasmine. The fruit is smooth, pear-shaped, the size of an ordinary apple or a Bonchretien pear; seeds about 20, somewhat angular, about 12 lines long, and imbedded in a pulp. This tree is indigenous to the Philippine Islands. Its seeds, the St. Ignatius bean of commerce, are about the size of olives, rounded and convex on one side, and somewhat angular on the other, pale brownish externally, with a bluish-gray tint, greenish-brown internally. Their substance is hard, compact, and horn-like. They are inodorous and of an exceedingly bitter taste. 

History: Strychnine was first discovered by French chemist Joseph-Bienaime Caenoiu and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier in 1818 in the Saint-Ignatins'-bean (S. ignatii)(1 p.2). Strychnos ignatii is a woody climbing shrub of the Philippines. It was introduced into Cochin China and is highly esteemed there as a medicine. It got its name from the attention it attracted from the Jesuits.  The beans are more costly than most of other commercial plants and is usually substituted for this reason.  Folklore had many to believe that the beans where an effective remedy to cholera. 

Constituents: Indole alkaloids: brucine and its N-oxide, α- and β-colubrine, diaboline, icajine, novacine, strychnine and its N-oxide, and 12-hydroxyderivatives, vomicine and others 

Properties: Stimulant, tonic 

Medicinal Uses:  Historically, the pits of the S. Ignacio cured persons who had eaten something poisonous. A small piece of it, eaten and followed down with cold water, expelled the poison. It also stopped stomach cramps and the inflammation of the ileum. It cured lockjaw and helped women giving birth. Scrapped pieces could be ingested when chills started in order to lower the fever. Ground into a powder and placed over the affected area, it cured the effects of hairy worms called "basut." Sucked as a candy, it eased arthritic pains and watery discharges due to indigestion. Cut into strips and fried in oil, it could be massaged into a paralyzed part of the body. It eased body aches as well.

It appears to possess an influence over the nervous system of a tonic and stimulating character, not belonging to Nux vomica or strychnine. It is never a remedy for conditions of excitation of the nervous system, but its key-note is atony; it is the remedy for nervous debility, and all that that term implies, being one of the best of nerve stimulants and nerve tonics. It was early recognized as a remedy for nervous debility, amenorrhea, chlorosis, etc. As a rule, the dose of ignatia administered is too large, a depressing headache often resulting from its immoderate use. The preparation mostly employed is specific ignatia, of which from 5 to 10 drops should be added to 4 fluid ounces of water, and the solution be administered in teaspoonful doses every 2 or 3 hours. Bearing in mind the condition of nervous atony, it may be successfully administered in anemia, where the patient is cold, and especially when coldness of the extremities is one of the distressing features of the menopause. It should be thought of in anemic states of the brain, and particularly in those cases where the patient exhibits hysterical, melancholic, or hypochondriacal demonstrations. It is a remedy for digestive disorders, such as atonic dyspepsia and chronic catarrh of the stomach, with atony, and gastralgia or gastrodynia. The sick headache of debility is relieved by it. Shifting, dragging, boring, or darting pains, deeply seated in the loins or lumbar region, are those benefited by ignatia. It is an important remedy in atonic reproductive disorders. Eclectics have not found it to be especially adapted to females only, as have the Homoeopaths declare it the remedy for women, while nux and strychnine are remedies for men. Sexual coldness in both sexes, impotence in the male and sterility in the female are remedied many times by the judicious administration of ignatia. The deep-seated pelvic pains of women, particularly ovarian pains and uterine colic are especially relieved by ignatia, which is also indicated in menstrual disorders with colic-like pains, heavy dragging of the ovaries, and an abnormally large and heavy womb. If added to these pelvic weaknesses, the general nervous system is greatly debilitated, there are wandering pelvic pains or pain in the right hypochondrium with constipation, neuralgia in other parts of the body, twitching, of the facial muscles, a tendency to paralysis, and choreic and epileptiform symptoms, associated with a disposition to grieve over one's condition, the indications for ignatia are still stronger. But to obtain beneficial effects the dose must be small.

Specific Indications and Uses: general nervous atony; disposition to grieve; dull, deep-seated, dragging pain in loins, back, or right hypochondrium; hysterical, choreic, epileptoid, or hypochondriacal manifestation, due to debility; dysmenorrhoea, with colicky pains and heavy womb; sexual frigidity, impotence, and sterility; wandering pelvic pains; coldness of extremities; muscular twitchings, particularly of face and eyelids; dull hearing, due to general atony; nervous depression: burning of the soles of the feet; congestive headache. 

Dosage: 1/20 to 5 drops. ( Usual method of administration: Rx Specific Medicine Ignatia, 5-15 drops; Water, 4 fluidounces. Mix. Sig.: One teaspoonful every 1 to 3 hours.)

Homeopathy: Ignatia amara is a homeopathic remedy derived from the seeds of the St. Ignatius bean (Strychnos ignatii), a tree found in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Ignatia, sometimes referred to as "homeopathic Prozac," treats acute stages of grief, most often resulting from a sudden loss, abuse, romantic disappointment, or emotional trauma, and the physical ailments that result. These commonly include digestive disorders, mood swings, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, muscle spasms, a lump in the throat, and hemorrhoids.Ignatia has not yet been subjected to modern scientific trials or research, although it was added to Materia Medica (the equivalent of the Physician's Desk Reference for homeopathic medicine) after a successful "proving" in the early 1800s. (A proving involves giving a particular substance to a number of patients to find out if it has the desired effect.) Both Bernardo Merizalde, M.D., a psychiatrist in Bala Cywnyd, Pa., who has practiced homeopathy for 19 years, and Todd Rowe, M.D., a psychiatrist and homeopath in Phoenix, Ariz., have found Ignatia to be effective in about 80 percent of the patients for whom it's indicated.The seeds of the St. Ignatius bean tree contain strychnine, which at full strength is highly poisonous. In homeopathic form, however, the active compounds are so dilute that they are safe enough even for children and the elderly. Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of "like treats like." Homeopaths believe that any substance that causes certain symptoms in a healthy person can, in highly diluted doses, cure those same symptoms in the sick. These very dilute remedies work like vaccinations and allergy shots, prompting the body's immune system to respond. But unlike vaccinations, a homeopathic treatment is not the same for each patient. Homeopathic practitioners study each patient's lifestyle, personal habits, and temperament, in addition to their physical symptoms. They then prescribe remedies that have been individually tailored.Ignatia is best for patients who have contradictory symptoms--physical and emotional. You may be full of energy, but always yawning. You may suffer from mood swings. Or your aches and pains may feel better from unexpected things--a sore throat that feels better from eating solid food, for example. Ignatia best suits nervous, worrisome individuals with issues of insecurity and difficulty coping. And according to Rowe, it treats women better than men. 

Solvent: The St. Ignatius bean yields its properties to water, but alcohol is its best solvent. 

Toxicity: Highly poisonous.  Similar properties to those of Nux Vomica 

Potter’s New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations
, R. C. Wren, F.L.S., Saffron Salden, 1985 revision; ISBN: 0-85207-197-3
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., 1922
King’s American Dispensatory, Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D., 1898
The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, Finley Ellingwood, M.D., 1919. 

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