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Bottle of extract of nux vomica, London, England, 1794-1930

Nux vomica is a bitter-tasting drug extracted from the poisonous strychnine-containing seeds of a tree that is native to parts of Asia and Australia. Nux vomica translates from Latin as “vomiting nut” – it can be highly toxic and has long been used to make rat poisons. The drug has stimulating properties when used in small quantities and strychnine itself is a known heart stimulant. It has been used as a tonic and was recommended as a treatment for post anaesthetic shock and resuscitation. In larger doses it can cause convulsions and death. This is not untypical – quite a number of previously common drugs contained highly poisonous components. The ridged glass bottle design indicates that the contents are poisonous.

Object number:

A642367

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    Glossary:

    Glossary: bottle

    Vessels having a neck and mouth considerably narrower than the body, used for packaging and containing liquid and dry preparations

    Glossary: nux vomica

    No description.

    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: resuscitation

    The act of restoring life to someone near death. This is done by such measures as artificial respiration (kiss-of-life) and cardiac massage.

    Glossary: strychnine

    A naturally occurring drug derived from trees. In small doses strychnine functions as a central nervous system stimulant, but in higher doses it is extremely poisonous.