Download Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate History of Strychnine by John Buckingham PDF

By John Buckingham

Inspired by way of the medicinal good fortune of quinine, early nineteenth century scientists was hoping strychnine, one other plant alkaloid with notable homes, may additionally turn into a brand new weapon opposed to illness. Physicians attempted for over a century, regardless of transforming into facts on the contrary, to regard every thing from paralysis to constipation with it. yet strychnine proved purely to be disappointingly deadly-relegating its destiny nearly completely to animal regulate, the damaging adulteration of meals, and legal exploits. The infamous and real tale of the way a toxic alkaloid...Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate heritage of Strychnine offers a scholarly and compelling historical past of this interesting chemical substance from its discovery to give occasions. A well known editor for the Dictionary of ordinary items, Dr. John Buckingham fuses his eclectic pursuits into a unprecedented mixture of unique learn spanning the nation-states of heritage, drugs, literature, chemistry, and forensics....Changed the process HISTORY!Uncovering info and logistics from the earliest experiments played in an period whilst right medical trials for checking out new medicinal drugs have been nonetheless of their infancy, the writer explores strychnine's trial-and-error contributions to medical, scientific, and forensic advancements. He additionally investigates ancient milestones and the notion of strychnine in well known culture-including felony notoriety, unintentional misuse, and new claims of strychnine's merits that stretch via to the current day. Juxtaposing the true trials, mistrials, and chronic interest linked to one in every of history's such a lot infamous pharmaceutical disasters, sour Nemesis bargains infrequent perception into the anarchic, but encouraged panorama, practices, and legacy of nineteenth century technology.

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Extra resources for Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate History of Strychnine

Sample text

The identity of these two Nicholases is tentative. Lawn, 1963. Clusius, 1567. Translated from the Latin by Philip Powell. Most snakewood was probably the root of Strychnos colubrina, a tree closely related to the nux vomica tree Strychnos nux-vomica and equally poisonous. It is impossible to identify the exact species from Da Orta’s descriptions (he describes two other kinds of similar wood in addition). Pickering, 1879. An Indian newspaper reported in 1833 that a band of 100 thugs was murdering 800 people a month, although this figure may be exaggerated.

Indb 27 6/1/07 3:46:48 PM 28 • Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate History of Strychnine to actually go there to see for himself would have been more of a career move than a field trip. The modern classification of plants is based on the system of the Swedish botanist Linnaeus. In 1753, he proposed the genus Strychnos, bringing together a number of trees and shrubs from India and the Far East which seemed to share not only many of their anatomical characteristics such as flower and leaf structure, but also their bitterness and poisonousness.

There is only one natural disease that resembles the effects of strychnine poisoning, and that is tetanus, a disease that results from contamination of a wound by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, the spores of which are widespread in the soil. In a closed wound, the bacteria produce the toxin tetanospasmin, a powerful nerve poison resembling strychnine in its effects. 5 The toxin is absorbed by the nerve fibres in the vicinity of the wound, and circulates in the bloodstream whence it can be absorbed by nerves in other parts of the body.

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