Source and Composition. Curare is a vegetable extract, obtained from various plants (Strychnos toxifera, Paulinia curare, etc.) of the nat. ord. Loganiaceae, and used in S. America as an arrow poison. Its active principle is the alkaloid Curarine, which contains no oxygen. The drug contains no Strychnine, nor any tetanizing principle.
- *Curare,—Dose, gr. 1/20-1/6 hypodermically.
- *Curarina, Curarine,—Dose, gr. 1/200-1/100 hypoder., or gr. 1/50 by the stomach.
- *Caroval, Vao,—are names of native preparations.
Physiological Action. Curare paralyzes the end organs of the motor nerves, but does not at first act directly on the brain or spinal cord; though if life be prolonged by artificial respiration, the cord, sensory nerves, and even the muscular tissues become implicated. The limbs are paralyzed first, death occurring by paralysis of respiration. The heart, at first quickened, becomes depressed, the blood pressure lowered, the eyelids droop, the eyeballs protrude, vision is disordered, intestinal peristalsis and sensibility to stimuli are greatly increased, an artificial glycosuria (curare-diabetes) is set up, and all the secretions are increased, especially the saliva.
The absorption of Curare by the stomach is very slow, but its elimination, which takes place by the kidneys, is more rapid and complete than that of any other alkaloid. The urine of a curarized animal will poison another, and that of the second animal will paralyze a third.
Actions of Curare, Coniïne and Gelsemine. Curare and Coniïne paralyze the end-organs of the motor nerves, Gelsemine and Methyl Coniïne paralyze the motor centres.
Antagonists. Artificial respiration, to maintain life until elimination occurs. Evacuation of the bladder repeatedly is an important measure. Strychnine, though from a member of the same family, is antagonistic as to the effects on the heart and respiration.
Therapeutics. Curare is effective in—
- Tetanus, both idiopathic and traumatic,—injections of gr. 1/6-1/2, repeated hypodermically, have proved curative in many cases. In Hydrophobia, Epilepsy and Chorea it has apparently effected cures.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.