Since the Spanish times, Strychnos ignatii has been known in the Philippines, used as an aphrodisiac and stimulant and also as a lethal poison. It was brought to Europe in 1699 by the Philippine Jesuit missionary, Father Camelli, who named the beans in honor of Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus.
Katbalonga is a large, woody, forest vine. Leaves are opposite, smooth, leathery, oblong or elliptic, 8 to 20 centimeters long, pointed at the tip, pointed or somewhat rounded at the base, and prominently three-veined. Flowers are white, borne mostly in the axils of the upper leaves. Calyx is short and minutely toothed. Corolla is tubular, less than 1 centimeters long. Fruit is rounded, pale yellowish and brown, 10 centimeters or more in diameter, containing several seeds embedded in a soft, light-yellow pulp having a squash-like odor. Fresh seeds are greenish straw-colored, ovoid, triangular or bluntly angular, flattened, about 2.5 centimeters wide, covered with silvery, depressed hairs. Horny and brownish albumen is translucent, hard and difficult to split. Seeds are intensely bitter and highly poisonous.
Note: Hairs of the epidermis, albumen and cotyledons are similar in features to the same parts of Strychnos nux-vomica.
- In damp, primary forests, at low and medium altitudes in the Biliran, Samar, and Leyte; and Agusan, Surigao, and Lanao Provinces in Mindanao.
- Also found in Borneo, China, and India.
- Study of seed yielded alkaloidal constituents - strychnine 1.5%, and brucine 0.5% - chemicals involved with the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscle.
- Study isolated a glucoside, loganin.
- Study of seeds yielded strychnine 2% and a small amount of berberine.
- Toxic principles of the seeds act on the spinal cord, being convulsive.
- Considered febrifuge, anticholeric, stomachic, tonic.
• Seeds mixed with wine used as stomachic.
• Bark and seeds used as febrifuge, tonic and anticholeric; used in some forms of paralysis.
• Seeds used for cholera, obstinate vomiting; for cold, phlegmatic conditions such as asthma, dropsy, rheumatism.
• Tincture, known as Tinctura Ignatiae, used as nervine tonic.
• Like nux-vomica, bean is tonic and stimulant, but cheaper.
• In Bengal dispensatory, seeds used as vermifugal medicine.
• In China, used for emotional disorders, depression, anxiety. Also used for headaches, sore throats, coughs and menstrual problems.
• Used to prevent fainting; also used as a bitter and tonic.
• Seeds used in homeopathic remedy for its effects on the nervous system. Referred to as the "homeopathic Prozac." Although it contains the highly poisonous strychnine, homeopathic remedies undergo considerable dilutions, watering it down with low risk of side effects.
• Poison: Seeds used for poisoning dogs; chopped and inserted into meat or bread.
• Strychnine: Seeds used in the manufacture of strychnine.
• Strychnine acts as a blocker or antagonist at the inhibitory or strychnine-sensitive glycine receptor, a ligand chloride channel in the brain and spinal cord. Because of strychnine's toxicity, its use in day-to-day medicine has long been abandoned. Recorded dosage for medicinal use was between 1/60th grain to 1/10th grain, equivalent to 1.1 and 6.4 M.G.. The lethal dose was cited as 1/2 grain (32 M.G.), but death has been known from a dose as little as 5 M.G. of strychnine.
Homeopathic preparations in the cybermarket.