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Glass jar of nux vomica seeds, Indonesia, 1870-1940

Nux vomica seeds (shown on the right) are used in Unani Tibb to stimulate the nervous system and treat paralysis. Nux vomica had similar uses in Western medicine as a source of strychnine to bring patients round after anaesthetics. High doses of the drug are poisonous and potentially fatal. Unani Tibb is an Islamic medical tradition. Health and personality are influenced by a person’s unique combination of humours, or elements, and their relationship with the environment. Illness occurs when the humours become unbalanced. Treatment is tailored to suit the individual’s specific mix of humours. The seeds are shown here with nigella sativa seeds (A670308) also used in herbal medicine.

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    Glossary: sample

    Individual units, segments, or small quantities taken as evidence of the quality or character of the entire group or lot

    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: paralysis

    The loss of function in one or more muscle groups. It causes loss of mobility and feeling.

    Glossary: Unani Tibb

    An Islamic medical tradition based on ancient Greek principles and focusing on balance in the body. It is found mostly in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Middle East.