Strychnine exposure is very risky for your body. It is a white, crystalline, acrid substance that can be ingested orally, inhaled, or combined with a solution and administered intravenously. Strychnine is a potent poison that can have serious consequences on humans, even in small doses. Death is one of the extremely dangerous negative health outcomes of strychnine poisoning.

The plant Strychnos nux-vomica is the main source of strychnine in nature. Australia and southern Asia are also home to this plant. Strychnine was once available as a pill and was used to cure a variety of human illnesses. Strychnine is mainly employed as a pesticide today, especially to kill rats. It seldom co-occurs with “street” narcotics like heroin, LSD, and cocaine.


Strychnine poisoning symptoms often show up 15 to 60 minutes after intake.

People who have been exposed to low or medium dosages of strychnine in any way may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fear or apprehension
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Jaw tightness
  • Rigid legs and arms
  • Difficulty breathingĀ 
  • Painful muscle
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle soreness or pain

Within the first 15 to 30 minutes after exposure, those who have taken significant dosages of strychnine may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Brain death
  • Respiratory failure


A thorough history and physical examination, which includes assessing the airway, breathing, and circulation, helps in diagnosing strychnine exposure. Blood tests are unreliable since the substance is transitory and cannot be accurately detected. Gastric aspirate and urine specimens can be converted into thin-layer chromatograms to test for strychnine exposure.


The goal of treatment is to get the substance out of the body while receiving supportive care in a hospital setting. Medications for spasms and convulsions, intravenous fluids, and cooling techniques are all examples of supportive treatment.


If poisoning is suspected, refrain from further ingesting and dial 911 right away because ingestion is most likely the main route of exposure. With immediate hospital care, recovery from strychnine exposure is feasible. Consequently, the best course of action is to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Avoid the area if you suspect strychnine may have been released into the air. Go outside if the strychnine leak occurred inside. If the emission occurs outside, get away from the area, try to stay upwind, and seek high ground. Moving to a location with access to fresh air as soon as possible greatly reduces the risk of dying from exposure to a chemical that has leaked into the air.

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