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

By John Buckingham

Inspired by means of the medicinal good fortune of quinine, early nineteenth century scientists was hoping strychnine, one other plant alkaloid with notable houses, may additionally develop into a brand new weapon opposed to illness. Physicians attempted for over a century, regardless of turning out to be facts on the contrary, to regard every little thing from paralysis to constipation with it. yet strychnine proved merely to be disappointingly deadly-relegating its destiny nearly completely to animal regulate, the harmful adulteration of meals, and legal exploits. The infamous and precise tale of the way a toxic alkaloid...Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate historical past of Strychnine offers a scholarly and compelling heritage of this interesting chemical substance from its discovery to give instances. A well known editor for the Dictionary of usual items, Dr. John Buckingham fuses his eclectic pursuits into a rare mixture of unique learn spanning the geographical regions of background, drugs, literature, chemistry, and forensics....Changed the process HISTORY!Uncovering information and logistics from the earliest experiments played in an period while right medical trials for trying out new medications have been nonetheless of their infancy, the writer explores strychnine's trial-and-error contributions to medical, clinical, and forensic advancements. He additionally investigates old milestones and the belief of strychnine in renowned culture-including legal notoriety, unintended misuse, and new claims of strychnine's advantages that stretch via to the current day. Juxtaposing the true trials, mistrials, and protracted interest linked to considered one of history's such a lot infamous pharmaceutical mess ups, sour Nemesis deals infrequent perception into the anarchic, but encouraged panorama, practices, and legacy of nineteenth century technology.

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Additional info for Bitter Nemesis: The Intimate History of Strychnine

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Indb 22 6/1/07 3:46:46 PM Nuts • 23 by a very distinguished man as a gift to his father (together with a splendid bezar stone and some small containers made of tortoiseshell). These things, he asserts, provide wondrous protection against poisons. It is ironical that such deadly poisonous plant materials built their reputation not only on their reputed medicinal properties, but also on their claimed power as antidotes to other poisons. By the time da Orta wrote his book, the church authorities were doing all they could to prevent the dissemination of the new scientific knowledge.

The Philippines, which are a rich source of drug-bearing plants, were not discovered by Magellan until 1521, and not settled by the Spanish until 1565. Any drugs from the Philippines reaching the West until then would have come through the agency of the Arabs, the Chinese or the Japanese, and their origins were fabulous. 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.

Like strychnine, the toxin does not cross the blood–brain barrier, and so does not affect consciousness. The jaw, face and head are affected first because the nerves controlling their muscles are shorter and the toxin has a smaller distance to migrate. Therefore the first symptom, typically appearing about a week after first infection, is usually lockjaw, or trismus. Treatment of severe cases is not very effective and the mortality rate even today is about 50%. These symptoms are superficially very similar to those of strychnine, but the onset is much more gradual.

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