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Review Article
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doi:
10.25259/JISH_3_2021
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A brief review on Nux vomica: A panacea homoeopathic remedy

Department of BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medical Sciences), University College of Conventional Medicine, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur (Zip Code: 36100), Punjab, Pakistan
Corresponding author: Dr. Tayyeba Rehman, Department of BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medical Sciences), University College of Conventional Medicine, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur (Zip Code: 36100), Punjab, Pakistan. tayeba.rehman@yahoo.com
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How to cite this article: Rehman T. A brief review on Nux vomica: A panacea homoeopathic remedy. J Intgr Stand Homoeopathy 2021;4(2):59-63.

Abstract

Strychnos nux-vomica is a homoeopathic remedy that has long been considered a panacea. This review collected the clinical trials and/or experimental studies on the pharmacological effects of Nux vomica. An electronic database search was run on Google Scholar and PubMed from 1980 to 2018. Data from homoeopathic texts available on paper and electronically were also included. Conventionally, Nux vomica is a medicine for alcoholism, anger effects of, colic, constipation, dyspepsia, gastrodynia, haemorrhoids, tea and tobacco habit, insomnia, nightmares, lumbago and many more diseases. Various pharmacological studies have proved its anti-alcoholic effect. Studies also showed its effect on sleep quality, anxiety-related behavioural patterns and epilepsy survival time. It also inhibited Helicobacter pylori-induced gene expression. Nux vomica was found to be beneficial in treating baker’s yeast-induced acute high-grade fever, pock-like lesions and Reiter’s disease. However, further research studies are required to explore its traditional uses for other diseases.

Keywords

Strychnos nux-vomica
Homoeopathy
Panacea remedy
Fever
Gastric complaints

INTRODUCTION

Strychnos nux-vomica is a polychrest remedy in Homoeopathy; it has been used widely for various ailments in the homoeopathic system of medicine, including alcoholism, anger effects of, colic, constipation, dyspepsia, gastrodynia, haemorrhoids, tea and tobacco habit, insomnia, nightmares and lumbago. Nux vomica is one among the most prescribed homoeopathic medicines in general clinical practice.[1] Although it has a wide range of traditional uses from the homoeopathic point of view, research regarding most of these therapeutic uses has not reached the level of clinical trials. In fact, the current state of knowledge pertaining to Nux vomica research has not been consolidated. An animal study by Sukul et al. demonstrated for the 1st time the in vivo antidotal potential for Nux vomica.[2] This has led to a series of studies exploring the various beneficial uses of this remedy.

Nux vomica is an accessible and economical homoeopathic medicine that not only targets a wide range of chronic diseases with fewer side effects compared to conventional allopathic treatment but also has the ability to tackle acute diseases. To enable more directed future studies on this medicine, consolidation of scientific research with convergence between results and homoeopathic Materia Medica and possible gaps in the knowledge needs to be addressed.

The present review aims to consolidate the traditional homoeopathic uses of Nux vomica and current state of scientific proof available on Google Scholar and PubMed from January 1980 to December 2018 on the homoeopathic uses of Nux vomica. We hope that the findings of this study will encourage its clinical use for different diseases as an economical adjunct and identify areas of future research for this medicine as an alternative therapeutic agent for various ailments.

FOLK AND TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USES

In homoeopathy, Nux vomica is reported to be useful in the treatment of alcoholism, effects of anger, colic, constipation, dyspepsia, gastrodynia, haemorrhoids, tea and tobacco habit, insomnia, nightmares and lumbago.[3] Nux vomica is known to affect the grey matter of the cerebrospinal nervous system. Homoeopathy is a holistic treatment mainly based on selection of the individualised similimum remedy.[4] Nux vomica is frequently the first remedy prescribed in homoeopathy after extensive treatment. It establishes equilibrium by its antidotal effects on large doses of various medications and by neutralising their chronic effects.[5]

Nux vomica is frequently used for ailments caused by a sedentary lifestyle. The characteristic features of Nux vomica patient are thin body, quick actions, nervousness, activeness and irritability. Mental strains, sedentary lifestyle, excessive studying and prolonged office work are some of the causative factors. To keep up with the excessive work, people often require higher quantities of stimulants such as tea, coffee and wine. Therefore, Nux vomica has excessive desire for tea, coffee and wine. The excessive stimulant use causes over excitement, which then requires sedatives. The patient indulges in tobacco or opium. Nux vomica patient desires rich and spicy food and is involved in wine and women to forget their demanding routine. All these factors cause heavy head, digestive complaints and irritability. The digestive complaints are usually constipation that requires laxatives; the patient develops a tolerance for laxatives, leading to further complications. These ailments and weaknesses are more common in men than women; Nux vomica is, therefore, mainly considered a male remedy. Nux vomica patient has an enthusiastic, fiery, irritable nature; patients are strongly chilly and open air increases their complaints.[6] The characteristics of Nux vomica are the irritable nature, quarrelsomeness, short temper and competitiveness.[7]

According to Kent, Nux vomica patient is an old dyspeptic who is hungry, lean, withered, prematurely aged and bent forward. He craves tonics, pungent and bitter things. The digestive power of the stomach is weak; after meals, there is pain in the stomach, the stomach sinks in, causing nausea and retching. Intense fever and sweat, heat and sweat are often intermingled. Fever is attended with digestive troubles. Moreover, Nux vomica has the power to enable the patient to quit the habit of taking stimulants and wine.[8]

PROVED PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECTS

Anti-alcoholism effect

Nux vomica 30C reduced the duration of alcohol-induced sleep in albino mice dosed with 90% ethanol. Nux vomica 30C was administered orally and intraperitoneally to different groups. Greater sleep reduction was observed in the oral administration group, suggesting that Nux vomica acts through oral receptors.[2] In another murine study, Nux vomica 30C, 200C and 1000C were found to be effective in reversing the effects of injected alcohol; untreated control mice took much longer to regain their righting reflexes after the alcohol.[9] Another study reported reduction of ethanol intake in albino mice after the administration of Nux vomica ultrahigh dilutions.[10] Nux vomica enables patients to quit the habit of taking stimulants and/or wine.

Homoeopathic medicines are prepared through dilutions followed by succussion. It is believed that succussion increased the pharmacological power of the medicine. However, a study on toads with Nux vomica 30C showed that the preparations with and without succussion both had an anti-alcohol effect.[11] In another study by Sukul et al., 2012, Nux vomica 200C countered the hypnotic effect of alcohol in young toads; this effect was replicated through capillary action between two groups of toads.[12] This study supported the hypothesis that homoeopathic medications can be transferred to an in utero child. Another review study stated that Nux vomica 30C and Nux vomica mother tincture reduced alcohol effects and voluntary ethanol intake in various animal models.[13] A study by Konar et al. showed that the anti-alcoholic effect of Nux vomica was greater than that of other homoeopathic medicines.[14] In another study, Nux vomica showed antidotal effects on ethanol intoxication and increased water permeability in the erythrocytes of freshwater catfish (Clarias batrachus). Erythrocytes collected from fish who were administered ethanol were incubated in distilled water at 30°C with ethanol 30C (control), Merc cor 30C and Nux vomica 30C. Aquaporins are primarily involved in water transport through the plasma membrane of red blood cells. The authors hypothesised that homoeopathic medicines interact with these proteins, through which they promote water influx into the cells.[15] In a recent study, Nux vomica 6C enabled significantly faster anaesthesia recovery in female cats that underwent elective ovariohysterectomy (24.2 min vs. 55.6 min).[16] Nux vomica 200C was also found to mitigate the hypnotic effect of ethanol in toadlets.[17] Apart from homoeopathic uses of Nux vomica for its anti-alcoholic effects, the active constituents of Nux vomica have also been found to decrease ethanol consumption. Brucine (extracted from Nux vomica seeds) was administered to alcohol-preferring fawn-hooded rats; decreased ethanol consumption was observed with minimal side effects.[18]

Nux vomica (30C and 1000C) was found to be an individualised effective homoeopathic medicine for managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a randomised controlled, open-label trial. The results obtained using Nux vomica were compared with those after using the standard allopathic drug chlordiazepoxide along with thiamine. Nux vomica, along with other remedies, was found to be as effective as standard allopathic medications in managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms and reducing alkaline phosphatase, aspartate amino transferase and alanine amino transferase levels.[19]

Anti-epileptic activity

Nux vomica CH7 was found to be significantly (10%) more effective than diazepam in suspending onset of convulsions and increasing survival time in strychnine-induced convulsions in BALB-c mice.[20]

Anti-inflammatory effects

In a multicentric, three-armed, randomised clinical trial, Nux vomica as a constitutional remedy cured lower urinary tract infection much more effectively compared to placebo.[21] Nux vomica was among the most prescribed adjunct remedies for acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and improved clinical outcomes associated with AES in children.[22] Nux vomica was the most frequently indicated adjunct remedy with antiretroviral therapy in HIV infections in a study that had a long-term follow-up of approximately 15 years.[23]

Reiter’s disease is characterised by inflammatory polyarthritis, urethritis, psoriasis-like skin lesions and conjunctivitis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, methotrexate and systemic corticosteroids are conventionally used to control this disease. We found a case report wherein Nux vomica in a high potency completely cured a 35-year-old man with Reiter’s disease; medium dilutions had not helped.[24] Nux vomica 100C–1000C completely cured pock-like lesions induced by a chicken embryo DNA virus in an animal model study. The effects were found to be significant compared to controls. This study showed antiviral effects of homoeopathic ultrahigh dilutions in vivo.[25]

Antipyretic effects

A recent study compared the antipyretic effects of Nux vomica ultrahigh dilutions (200C and 1000C) on baker’s yeast-induced fever. The study proved the efficacy of Nux vomica over other medicines. The proposed mechanism of antipyretic action of Nux vomica was through its antidotal effects for high doses of baker’s yeast.[5]

Effects on sleep and behaviour

Nux vomica administration resulted in systematic changes in the EEGs of rats during sleep. Nux vomica led to a more significant decrease in the brain signals compared to the solvent or pure water.[26] A study that reviewed the effects of homoeopathic medicines on anxiety-related behaviours in animal models tested Nux vomica 5C on mice; it was seen to have some effects on certain behavioural factors.[27] Ultra-high dilutions of Nux vomica significantly elevated polysomnographic sleep and non-rapid eye movement sleep in coffee-induced insomnia in young adults of both sexes.[28]

OTHER PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECTS

Whitmarsh et al. randomised 63 patients with migraine and individually prescribed one of 11 remedies: Nux vomica, Bryonia, Belladonna, Iris versicolor, Lachesis, Kalium bichromatium, Natrium muriaticum, Sepia, Sanguinaria, Silicea or Sulphur (all in 30C potencies). Nux vomica and other remedies proved to be active in declining migraine frequency.[29,30] Nux vomica showed positive effects on larval and shell weight, silk ratio and breakages during reeling of silk worm (Bombyx mori) that were nourished on mulberry leaves. Nux vomica tincture was found to help in fortification of leaves with nutrients; thus, the quality and quantity of silk can be increased after treating mulberry leaves with Nux vomica.[31]

Nux vomica 10C prepared in ethanol was found to significantly inhibit Helicobacter pylori-induced gene expression by acting on heparin-binding epidermal growth factor gene expression in KATO-III cells.[32]

A randomised, blinded clinical trial showed the effectiveness of homoeopathic medicines in treating adenoid vegetation in young children who were recommended surgery. Nux vomica 200C was one of the medications used in this study.[33] In a Japanese study, atopic dermatitis was successfully treated with homoeopathic medicines; Nux vomica was one of the most frequently prescribed remedies.[34]

CONCLUSION

Nux vomica is a panacea that is used traditionally in homoeopathy. Various studies on Nux vomica have supported its traditional uses, especially its anti-alcoholic effects. Other researches have described its efficacy in various clinical conditions, including fever, pock-like lesions and Reiter’s disease. Further research studies are required to explore its traditional uses in other diseases. Clinical trials should be performed to confirm its anti-alcoholic effects presented in several animal trials.

Declaration of patient consent

Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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