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Organic compound, a poisonous alkaloid obtained from seeds of the nux vomica tree of India and related plants of the genus Strychnos. It does not dissolve in water nor well in alcohol, and it has an intense bitter taste. It has been used in rodent poisons. Within 20 minutes after ingestion, it causes painful muscle contractions and convulsions, pulling the head back and arching the back; death usually results from respiratory muscle spasms. It is used in small doses by veterinarians as a stimulant.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on strychnine, visit Britannica.com.