Glass bottle containing extract of nux vomica, by Savory and Moore Ltd., London
Nux vomica is a bitter-tasting drug extracted from the poisonous strychnine-containing seeds of a tree that is native to parts of Asia and Australia. Nux vomica translates from Latin as “vomiting nut” – it can be highly toxic and has long been used to make rat poisons.
The drug has stimulating properties when used in small quantities and strychnine itself is a known heart stimulant. It has been used as a tonic and was recommended as a treatment for post anaesthetic shock and resuscitation. In larger doses it can cause convulsions and death. This is not untypical – quite a number of previously common drugs contained highly poisonous components. The ridged glass bottle design indicates that the contents are poisonous.