Strychnine is an alkaloid extracted from the seeds of Strychnos nux-vomica. It was the most commonly prescribed drug in the UK until the early 1920s and was used as a 'tonic' to improve alertness, sensory acuity and wakefulness. It has fallen out of use and is almost never prescribed.
Strychnine abolishes CNS inhibitory postsynaptic potentials due to the release of taurine as a neuro-transmitter and thereby reduces inhibition of reflexes. In overdose it causes muscle spasms, fits and death, although these actions can be antagonized by barbiturates. It has a poor toxic to therapeutic ratio and is usually fatal in a dose of 60-90 mg.
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