By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD
Nux vomica is a poisonous plant. It is widely used in Homeopathy and in Ayurveda. It is called Kupeelu, Kuchila in Sanskrit. The raw seeds are called poison nut because of their toxic nature.
Botanical name – Strychnos nux vomica
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
- 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 dietary rerstrictions and for longer time period.
Read related: Kupilu – Nux Vomica – Uses, Dose, Purification, Side Effects
Higher dose and long term administration of nux vomica and its derived formulations may lead to-
- anxiety, mouth ulcer, gastritis
- dizziness, shivering, convulsions
- back stiffness and stiffness of the joint
- breathing problems
- fatigue etc
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.
Major chemical constituents available in this plant are –
Strychinine, Vomicine, Brucine, Novacine, Isostrychnine, Cuchiloside and Loganic acid etc
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.
The important formulations practiced in Ayurveda are Vishamushti/Vishatinduka vati, Karaskara ghrita, Agnitundi vati, Kupeelu lepa, Karaskara taila etc
Some of the simple mediactions practiced by the cautious use and its health benefits are mentiojned here below-
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