STRYCHNINE for anaesthetics
GROWS: India and SE Asia THE strychnine tree is commonly known as nux
vomica because it is highly poisonous and the hard, disklike seeds of the tree are sometimes referred to as ‘vomit buttons’. These seeds are the chief commercial source of the poison strychnine, which Agatha Christie chose as the murder weapon of choice in her first Poirot novel, The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Although it’s highly poisonous, in the 1890s doctors discovered that adding a drop of strychnine with a general anaesthetic could prevent or treat surgical shock (a critical condition brought on by sudden drop in blood flow) because it raised blood pressure, and the practice continued until the 1930s. Earlier this year, researchers in China found that strychnine can slow the growth of human colon cancer cells.