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Family Loganiaceae

Katbalonga
Strychnos ignatii Berg.
ST. IGNATIUS BEAN
Lu Song Guo

Scientific names Common names
Ignatia amara L. f. Aguason (Bis.)
Ignatiana philippinica Lour. Dankagi (Bis.)
Strychnos ignatii P.J.Bergius Gasud (S. L. Bis.)
Strychnos hainanensis Merr. & Chun Igasud (S. L. Bis., C. Bis.)
Strychnos ovalifolia Wall. ex G. Don Kanlara (Bis.)
  Kataloñga (Bis.)
  Katbaloñga (Tag.)
  Katbaloñgan (Tag., Pamp.)
  Mananaog (Bis.)
  Pañgaguason (Bis.)
  Pepita de San Ignation (Span.)
  Pepitasa-katbalogan (Tag., Bis., Pamp)
  Yañgi-ilagan (Mbo.)
  Ignatia (Engl.)
  Saint Ignatius bean (Engl.)
Strychnos ignatii P.J. Bergius is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Lu song guo.
FRENCH: Feves de Saint Ignace.
INDONESIA: Pokru, Cetek, Bina.
MALAYSIA: Akar ipoh, Belai hitam, Ipoh akar besar.
SPANISH: Pepita de San Ignacio.
THAILAND: Phayaa mue lek.
VIETNAM: Lo[af]ng, n[af]n.


Gen info
Since the Spanish times, Strychnos ignatii has been known in the Philippines, used as an aphrodisiac and stimulant and also as a lethal poison. It was brought to Europe in 1699 by the Philippine Jesuit missionary, Father Camelli, who named the beans in honor of Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus.

Botany
Katbalonga is a large, woody, forest vine. Leaves are opposite, smooth, leathery, oblong or elliptic, 8 to 20 centimeters long, pointed at the tip, pointed or somewhat rounded at the base, and prominently three-veined. Flowers are white, borne mostly in the axils of the upper leaves. Calyx is short and minutely toothed. Corolla is tubular, less than 1 centimeters long. Fruit is rounded, pale yellowish and brown, 10 centimeters or more in diameter, containing several seeds embedded in a soft, light-yellow pulp having a squash-like odor. Fresh seeds are greenish straw-colored, ovoid, triangular or bluntly angular, flattened, about 2.5 centimeters wide, covered with silvery, depressed hairs. Horny and brownish albumen is translucent, hard and difficult to split. Seeds are intensely bitter and highly poisonous.

Note: Hairs of the epidermis, albumen and cotyledons are similar in features to the same parts of Strychnos nux-vomica.

Distribution
- In damp, primary forests, at low and medium altitudes in the Biliran, Samar, and Leyte; and Agusan, Surigao, and Lanao Provinces in Mindanao.
- Also found in Borneo, China, and India.

Parts utilized
Bark, seeds.

Constituents
- Study of seed yielded alkaloidal constituents - strychnine 1.5%, and brucine 0.5% - chemicals involved with the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscle.
- Study isolated a glucoside, loganin.
- Study of seeds yielded strychnine 2% and a small amount of berberine.

Properties
- Toxic principles of the seeds act on the spinal cord, being convulsive.
- Considered febrifuge, anticholeric, stomachic, tonic.

Uses
Folkloric
• Seeds mixed with wine used as stomachic.
• Bark and seeds used as febrifuge, tonic and anticholeric; used in some forms of paralysis.
• Seeds used for cholera, obstinate vomiting; for cold, phlegmatic conditions such as asthma, dropsy, rheumatism.
• Tincture, known as Tinctura Ignatiae, used as nervine tonic.
• Like nux-vomica, bean is tonic and stimulant, but cheaper.
• In Bengal dispensatory, seeds used as vermifugal medicine.
• In China, used for emotional disorders, depression, anxiety. Also used for headaches, sore throats, coughs and menstrual problems.
• Used to prevent fainting; also used as a bitter and tonic.
Homeopathy
• Seeds used in homeopathic remedy for its effects on the nervous system. Referred to as the "homeopathic Prozac." Although it contains the highly poisonous strychnine, homeopathic remedies undergo considerable dilutions, watering it down with low risk of side effects. Reported homeopathic benefits in anxiety, mood disorders, hysteria, insomnia, and menopausal emotional disturbances.
Others
Poison: Seeds used for poisoning dogs; chopped and inserted into meat or bread.
Strychnine: Seeds used in the manufacture of strychnine.

Toxicity
• Strychnine acts as a blocker or antagonist at the inhibitory or strychnine-sensitive glycine receptor, a ligand chloride channel in the brain and spinal cord. Because of strychnine's toxicity, its use in day-to-day medicine has long been abandoned. Recorded dosage for medicinal use was between 1/60th grain to 1/10th grain, equivalent to 1.1 and 6.4 M.G.. The lethal dose was cited as 1/2 grain (32 M.G.), but death has been known from a dose as little as 5 M.G. of strychnine.

Studies
Behavioral Effects:
Study evaluated the activity of homeopathic Ignatia dilutions/dynamizations on experimental animal mice models. In LD the tested medicine showed anxiolytic-like activity, to a lesser extent than diazepam. Study concludes homeopathic Ignatia dilutions/dynamizations modify some emotion-related symptoms in laboratory mice without affecting locomotion. (5)

Availability
Wild-crafted.
Homeopathic preparations in the cybermarket.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update March 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Public Domain / File:Koeh-132.jpg / Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuterndem Texte : Atlas zur Pharmacopoea germanica / 1883-1914 / Franz Eugen Köhler / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Strychnos ignatii, Loganiaceae, Ignatius bean, seeds. / File:Strychnos ignatii 001.JPG / H. ZELL / 8 OCTOBER 2009 / GNU Free Documentation License / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Ignatia (Strychnos ignatii) / Natural Standard Monograph
(2)
The Alkaloids: Chemistry and Pharmacology / Arnold Brossi
(3)
Strychnine / Wikipedia
(4)
Strychnos ignatii Bergius / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
(5)
Effects of Ignatia amara in mouse behavioural models / Marta Marzotto, Anita Conforti, Paolo Magnani, Maria Elisabetta Zanolin and Paolo Bellavite* / Homeopathy (2012) 101, 57e67 ! 2011 / doi:10.1016/j.homp.2011.10.001
(6)
Strychnos ignatii P.J. Bergius / Synonyms / The Plant List
(7)
Strychnos Ignatii and Other East Indian and Philippine Species of Strychnos / Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)Vol. 1911, No. 7 (1911), pp. 281-302 / DOI: 10.2307/4119479

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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