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Kupilu – Nux Vomica – Uses, Dose, Purification, Side Effects

Kupilu / Nux vomica is a famous but poisonous Ayurvedic herb. It has many health benefits but should only be used after purification. It is used in Ayurvedic treatments since the time of Sushruta. Nux vomica is also used extensively used in Homeopathy.

The information provided in this article is only for the purpose of education. Usage of nux vomica without doctor’s advice may lead to poisoning and death.
The raw seeds are called poison nut because of their toxic nature.

Botanical Name– Strychnos nux-vomica
Family– Loganiaceae, Karaskara Kula

Different varieties

Strychnos wallichiana
Strychnos ignatii

Nux Vomica qualities

Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu – Light to digest
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya- Ushna – hot in potency

Effect on Tridosha

Kapha Vata hara – Balances Vata and Kapha. It increases Pitta Dosha.

Kupilu – uses

The bark and purified seeds are used for the treatment of –

  • bloating, gastritis, heartburn and nausea
  • male infertility, premature ejaculation and impotence
  • back pain
  • stress or mental strain
  • headaches especially migraine
  • menstrual problems
  • insomnia
  • sciatica
  • vertigo and dizziness
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • wide range of neurological disorders etc

Nux vomica shouldn’t be taken without proper purification, in high doses, without following

Traditional indications of nux vomica:
Hanti Meda – lowers cholesterol, useful in obesity
Krumihara – useful in intestinal worm infestaion
Shvasahara – useful in asthma and wheezing
Gulmahara – useful in abdominal tumor, bloating
Arshohara – useful in hemorrhoids
Mushikavishahara – useful in rat bite
Vishtambhi – causes constipation
Rochana – improves taste, useful in anorexia
Agnikrut – improves digestion strength
Grahi – absorbant, useful in diarrhoea
Kushtahara – useful in skin disorders
Pramehajit – useful in urinary disorders, diabetes
Madakrut – causes intoxication
Kanthamayahara – useful in diseases of throat

Nux vomica in addiction disorders

It is used by renowned Ayurvedic doctors such as Prof. Anoop Indoria for the treatment of
Opium dependance
Alcohol dependence and
Tobacco dependence.
The medicines usually used are – Vishatinduk Vati or Shuddha Kuchila in 3 divided doses, along with Hingvastak churna.

Dr Anoop Indoria also uses the leftover milk after Kuchila Shodhana. It is processed to ranular form. This is sued in opium dependence as per Rasatantra sara and Siddhayoga Sangraha.

Home remedies of Nux Vomica

Some of the simple mediactions practiced by the cautious use and its health benefits are mentiojned here below-

Chronic ulcers

1. Leaf poultice in chronic ulcers:
Mature fresh leaves are collected and fine paste is made. A little bit of sour buttermilk or lemon juice is added while grinding to make the fine paste. This is heated a little and applied over non healing wounds and ulcers.
In case of neuralgia, numbness etc also this is applied over the affected areas like limbs, foot, sole etc.

Calcaneal spur, radiating pain

2. Fruit pulp with salt application in calcaneal spur and radiating pain:
Mature fruits are collected and pulp is obtained. To this, quarter part of salt is added, mixed will. This is applied to the ankle joint, heels and calcaneal region to treat pain and swelling associated with calcaneal spur (heel pain). This can also be applied over the lower back to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. In the pain points where severeity is more, this is applied and part is wrapped or tied tightly. This helps to relieve the pain quickly.
Read related: Calcaneal Spur – Ayurvedic Treatment, Tips and Remedies

Chronic wounds, ulcers

3. Root paste in chronic wound and non healing ulcers:
Roots are rubbed well with water or lemon juice. This fine paste is applied over non healing ulcers and wounds. This contributes significant benefit.


4. Petiole decoction in case of haemorroids (for sitz bath):
The petioles of the plant or mid-rib of the leaves are collected. 1 tablespoon of this is added with 2 cups of water, boiled and reduced to 1 cup, filtered. This is used by the traditional healers of foot hills of Kalanji male forest to pacify pain caused due to fissure and haemorroids.

Yearly few time Indian cattle die because of accidental poisoning caused due to the grassing in the forest area where the cattle eat the strychnus leaves unknowingly. So these is a necessity to educate local people regarding chances of such poisoning.

Nux vomica has wide application being a proven medicine in Homoeopathy in several ill health conditions. A poison can be a medicine if used judicially and by the intelligent mind; nux vomica is a good example in this respect.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD

Part used, dosage

Part used- Seed is the most used part of this herb. Rarely, root bark is also used. It should be purified before using for medicinal purposes.
Dosage- Seed powder – below 30 mg.

Toxic symptoms

Taking nux vomica for more than a week, or in high amounts of 30 mg or more, can cause severe side effects like  restlessness, dizziness, back stiffness, spasms of jaw and neck, convulsions, seizures, wheezing, breathing problems, liver failure and death.
It is not safe to use it in pregnant and lactating mothers.
Avoid it in children.
As per the Drugs And Cosmetics Act, the medicines containing Nux vomica should be taken only under strict medical supervision.

Adverse effects of nux vomica

Higher dose and long term administration of nux vomica and its derived formulations may lead to-

  • restlessness
  • anxiety, mouth ulcer, gastritis
  • dizziness, shivering, convulsions
  • back stiffness and stiffness of the joint
  • breathing problems
  • seizures
  • fatigue etc

Kupilu Shodhana – Purification method

Skin of seeds is removed. It is boiled in milk for 7 days. Dried and
then it is fried in ghee and powdered.

Ayurvedic classics explain the method of purification for seeds of nux vomica and it is as follows-
The seeds are wrapped in a cotton cloth and a bundle is made. These seeds are then dipped in cow’s milk and boiled for three hours(the device is known as dola yantra as per Rasashastra). After 3 hours of boiling the seed are crushed and outer skin is removed. Once again the seeds are boiled in cow’s milk. The procedure is repeated 7 days. There after these purified seeds are fried with ghee and powered and stored.

Some folk healers (even traditional practitioners of North India) fry the seeds with castor oil and use it.


Paribhadra – Erythrina variegata is used as an antidote in Kupeelu (Strychnos nux vomica) Poisoning. (PV Sharma)

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.


Ayurvedic medicines with Kupilu ingredient:
Sulaharana Yoga – used in abdominal and neurological disorders
Ekang Veer Ras – used in neurological disorders
Vishatinduka Taila – useful in gout and skin diseases
Vishamushti/Vishatinduka vati, Karaskara ghrita, Agnitundi vati, Kupeelu lepa, Karaskara taila etc.

Distribution, category

Throughout tropical India, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orrissa and west Bengal up to a height of altitude of 1350 m. Hot weather forests – travancore -cochin, madras, konkan – malabar.
The Kupilu tree is native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of South East Asia and Australia. In India it is found in deciduous and semi evergreen forests of Maharashtra; It is widely found across foothills of Western Ghats.
Category – Upavisha

Major chemical constituents

Brucine, Strychnine and vomicine; Kajine & Novacine ( N Methyl Pseudobrucine); strychnine & isostrychine; Cuchiloside loganic acid etc.
Major chemical constituents available in this plant are –
Strychinine, Vomicine, Brucine, Novacine, Isostrychnine, Cuchiloside and Loganic acid etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)


Habit- Perennial deciduous tree grows up to 100 ft. in height. Tree has sharp and strong axillary spines.
Bark- Thin, grey smooth or rough with lenticels
Leaves- Opposite, broadly elliptic, acute tip, glabrous and shining, 5 nerved. base usually rounded, petiole is 0.5 to 1 cm long.
Inflorescence- Terminal pedunculate pubescent compound cymes.
Flowers- Greenish white, numerous, short pedicel, pubescent, corolla is 5-lobed, glabrous.

Fruits- Globose, 2.5-7.5 cm in diameter, slightly rough and shining surface, orange-red on ripening with many seeds.

Classical categorization

Bh. P. Ni – Amradi varga

Vernacular Names

Hindi Name- Kuchala, Kuchila, Kupeelu
English Name- Nux Vomica
Telugu Name- Mushini Ginjalu, Mushti Vittulu
Bengali Name- Kunchila
Marathi- Kajara
Gujarati Name- Jherkuchala, Zerkochala
Tamil Name- Yettikottai
Malayalam Name- Kaajjeel
Arabian name – Ajaraki, Habbul Gurav
Parsi name – Kuchula, Phuloosemaahi

Sanskrit synonyms

Kupilu – Kutsitaha Peelu – Its fruit is is similar to that of  Pilu(Salvadora oleoide / Salvadora persica), but it is inferior to that herb, because of its poisonous nature.
Vishatinduka – Its fruit is similar to Tinduka (Diospyros tomentos), but is poisonous.
Kaka Tinduka – It is usually found in forest areas and has fruit resembling Tinduka
KakaPiluka – Similar to Pilu.

Garadruma – Tree bears fruits which are poisonous
Karaskra, Kuchila

Sthanika karma (Action on different system)

External application- External application of its paste relieve pain, and reduce edema pus and inflammation . External application of seed paste is indicated in inflammatory joint diseases like ,Amavata, Sandhivata (osteo arthritis) etc.

Nervous System – Reduce pain because of its vata samaka property, Because of its penetrating action it stimulate nervous system, promote strength of nervous system. over dosage may cause convulsions. Indicated in insomnia, facial palsy, hemiplegia, nerve related pain etc. conditions.

Digestive system – It has bitter and pungent taste. It has carminative, digestive, absorbent action. It is dry and astringent in taste so reduce saliva secretion, reduce Abdominal cramp. Indicated in low digestive fire, Inflammation of stomach, indigestion, hemorrhoid’s, helminthiasis, grahani (IBS).

Respiratory System – Being bitter and pungent in taste, it act as kaphasamaka, and relive cough. Indicated in pulmonary oedema, and cough

Circulatory System – Because of its hot and penetrating action, it increase Blood pressure, and stimulate heart. Indicated in Hridaya saidhilya (Cardio myopathy), Hridaya dravata (Palpitation), Heart valve related diseases, etc.

Excretory system –It has stimulative action on Urinary system, so indicated in weakness of kidney and associated structures. Indicated in kids bed wetting, urine leakage due to weak bladder.

Reproductive System – Aphrodisiac in action. Indicated in premature ejaculation

Satmikarana – Promote strength, especially geriatric conditions like insomnia, loss of appetite, weakness of nervous system, etc.
Skin – Indicated in skin disorders, itching, excessive sweating.
Tapakrama – Good in case of Vishama jwara
Eyes – Cause pupillary constriction

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