United States Dispensatory 1926
Compiled by Ivor Hughes

Arrow Poisons. � Up to the seventh century poisoned arrows were used in Europe in warfare, and they seem not to have disappeared from Spain until the sixteenth century, while poisoned daggers and poisoned swords were used even later for assassinations. The nature of the poisons employed is obscure, though it is stated that Veratrum album, L., and snake venom were used.

The peregrinations of English and American travelers in Africa, and the various political changes and fomentations which have been the fruit of their discoveries the war with Spain and the consequent bringing of attention to the Philippine Islands � have developed so much general interest in the wild natives of these various remote regions that we have thought it proper to prepare for our readers a general summary of what is known in regard to the poisons used by these various natives for the killing of game and the destruction of their enemies.

In doing this we have thought that a geographical arrangement might well suffice. A number of arrow poisons in various parts of the world have been used to a greater or less extent as therapeutic agents, and are considered elsewhere in this work. Among these may be mentioned strophanthus, acocanthera, antiaris, and curare.

So far as our knowledge goes no poisonous arrows have ever been used in North America or in Northern Asia, unless, indeed, the statements made by Kracheninikow be correct. In the second volume of his Vogage en Sib�rie, French edition, 1768, this traveler states that the roots of the plant known as Zgate are employed by several tribes living in the far north of Asia as an arrow poison, and it has been suggested, probably with insufficient reason, that the plant is an anemone. We have met with no recent author who has seen this poison. Fraser examined a poison used by the Mishmis of northeastern India and concluded it was derived from a species of aconite (C.D., 1915, 40).

The Upas tieute, which is used in the East Indies, is said to be obtained from a climbing woody plant growing exclusively in Java, the Strychnos Tieute of Leschenault. This author states that a decoction of the bark of the root is concentrated to the consistence of a thin syrup, then mixed with onions, garlic, pepper, etc., and allowed to stand until it becomes clear. The poisonous principles in both Upas antiar and Upas tieute, according to Pelletier and Caventou, is strychnine combined with igasuric acid. This poison produces death by violent convulsions, the heart stopping before respiration. (Hammond, Am. J. M. 8., 1860, p. 363.) It is very probable that different extracts are employed by different tribes in the islands of the Malay Archipelago. Braidwood (Ed. M. J., 1864) found the arrow poison known as Dajaksh to be a cardiac paralyzant. It is not clear whether this is the same as Borneo arrow poison examined by Leubuscher. (Cb. I. M., Bd. xvii, 1896.)

The arrow poisons used by the natives of the Philippine Islands are, according to the researches of P. G. Plugge (A. J. P., 1896, ii), obtained from the Rabelaisia philippinensia Planch. Plugge has found in it a non-nitrogenous glucoside, rabelaisin. This given in very large doses produced in animals some convulsive movements, followed by profound muscular relaxation, loss of reflexes, and general paralysis, ending in death from asphyxia. On the heart it acted as an energetic stimulant, belonging to the digitalin group. (See also I. Rosenthal, Sitzungsb, f. Physk, u. Med. 8oc., Erlangen, 1894.)

An arrow poison is used by the Malays, under the name of Ipoh; it is said to "be obtained from Derris (Pterocarpus) elliptica Benth. (Fam. Leguminosae), or tuba root, which is much used in Java as a fish poison. It contains an active acid resin, to which the name of derrid has been given. Derrid appears to be one of the most powerful fish poisons known, as one five-millionth part stupefied gold fish in a few moments, and killed them within half an hour. (P. J., 1890, xxi.) According to the researches of van Hasselt (A. I. P. T., 1911, xxi, p. 242), closely allied, physiologically, to derrid are pachyrhizid, from the Pachyrhizis angulatis, and nicoulin, from the nekoe or stink-wood. These drugs are powerful poisons to the central nervous system, especially the respiratory center, and in larger doses cause slowing of the pulse by a direct action upon the heart muscle.

The natives of Perak, in the Straits Settlements, use an arrow poison stated to be a combination of aqueous extracts from the root bark of three trees, the individual extracts being known as ipoh aker, aker lampong, and prual. Ipoh aker and aker lampong are believed to be obtained from undescribed species of Strychnos; extracts were prepared from the root bark of these trees by .Ralph Stockman (Lab. Rep. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, vol. vi, 1897), and found to be of similar physiological power, each of them having a digitalis-like action and also a well marked curare-like action, causing arrest of the heart in systole and loss of power in the motor nerve endings. Prual is said to be made from the root bark of Coptosapelta flavescens Korth., now recognized as C. macrophylla (Roxb.) K. Sch. (Fam. Rubiaceae); in the experiments of Stockman it was found to be a violent poison, very rapidly killing the muscle at the point of inoculation, and soon involving in a fatal influence the whole muscular system, so that the animal after a large dose collapsed almost at once with diastolic cardiac arrest.

The African arrow poisons are quite numerous. Exuja or Echugin is a blackish-brown, crumbly, odorless, and intensely bitter arrow poison used by the Ovambos of Southwest Africa. It is said to be yielded by an apocynaceous shrub, Adenium Boehmianum Schinz. From it R. Bőhm (C'b. N. W., 1889) isolated the crystalline glucoside (C5H8O2), echugin, and a resinous body, echugon. The glucoside crystallizes in .small, colorless, satiny, rhombic plates, easily soluble in water and alcohol, and insoluble in ether. It is present to about 10 per cent in the crude substance, and is said to very closely resemble strophanthin in its physiological properties.

The arrow poison used by the pygmies of Central Africa has been obtained by Burgeon Parke, and is described in the P. J., April, 1891. It has been found to contain two active alkaloids, erythrophloeine '(C28H43O7N) and strychnine.

The Sakayes, the Somangs, and the Wa Kamba tribes in Eastern Africa produce arrow poisons whose relations with one another are still obscure. Hippo, according to Laborde, causes in the lower animals vomiting, followed by tetanic convulsions and an almost simultaneous arrest of the respiration and cardiac action. (P. J., July, 1887.) Vakamba of Laborde (Ibid.) is probably the same as the ukambin which has been studied by H. (Paschkis, who found its active principle to be a crystalline body belonging to the digitalis group, and causing in the lower animals elevated blood pressure, fibrillary contractions of the muscles, and systolic arrest of the heart. (Cb. M. W., 1862.)

An exceedingly bitter arrow poison, used by the tribes who inhabit the country of Segon in the French Soudan, has been examined by Ferre and Busquet (A. de P., 1895, vii), who find that its active principle is a crystalline glucoside which is a very powerful muscle poison, affecting directly the heart, and producing very rapidly general paralysis, with salivation, exophthalmia, disturbance of respiration and circulation. The first influence is to increase greatly the arterial pressure. The whole action of the poison is very similar to that of strophanthin. For an investigation of South African plants by Juritz, see P. J., 1906, 87.

The Australian natives, according to Lewin, (A.. E. P. P., 1912, Ixviii, p. 333), derive an arrow poison from the Buphane disticha Herb. (Hoemanthus toxicarius L.). He found in this an alkaloid to which he gave the name of hoemanthine. It somewhat resembles scopolamine in its action, being both a narcotic and mydriatic, and may be the same as that described by Tutin (Tr. Chem. Soc., 1911, xcix) under the name of buphanine. Tutin also found several other alkaloids, one of which was identified as narcissine.

Animal Poisons. � The use of animal arrow poisons is uncommon, though the Choco Indians, in Columbia, South America, are said to prepare a very deadly extract by holding a tree-frog, the 'Hyla chocoensis, on a stick near a fire, and scraping off the subsequent exudate from the skin. As it is asserted that an exudate can be obtained from the skin of the 'ordinary European toad which is a violent heart poison, the extract employed by the Choco Indians is probably a cardiac paralyzant. Again, according to Livingstone, confirmed by Baines, some of the Bushmen prepare a poison from a cream-colored grub or caterpillar, which they term 'Nga, said to be the first stage of the beetle Diamphidia locusta. The grub is gradually squeezed between the forefinger and thumb, and the colorless exudate smeared over the arrowhead. Boehm and his pupil Starcke have found this poison to be similar in its action to the snake poisons, to be dependent for its activity upon a toxic albumose, and to be non-toxic when given by the mouth. As previously stated, it is also probable that snake venom is sometimes mixed with the various vegetable poisons used by barbarians.

Natives along the Amazon River obtain an arrow poison from the venom of a toad, the Bufo agua. This has been examined by Abel and Macht (J. P. Ex. T., 1912, iii, p. 319) who found in it 5 per cent, of epinephrine, and a neutral principle to which they gave the name bufagin, and assigned the formula of C9H12O2. It exercises a powerful digitalis-like effect, the fatal dose for the dog being seven-tenths of a milligramme per kilo.

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