Kupilu (Strychnos nux-vomica)

Basonym of Drug

The medicinal plant Kupilu is scientifically known as Strychnos nux-vomica. This botanical name serves as the fundamental identifier for this potent herb in various scientific and traditional contexts.

Main Sanskrit Synonyms

In the realm of Ayurveda, Kupilu is referred to by various Sanskrit synonyms, each encapsulating its unique attributes. Some key Sanskrit synonyms for Kupilu include:

  1. Kupilu: Fruit is similar to that of Pilu, but it is inferior to that.
  2. Vishamushti: Fruit is poisonous.
  3. Vishanika: Fruit is poisonous.
  4. Kuchila

Regional Name (Vernacular names)

Kupilu’s popularity transcends regions, leading to diverse vernacular names in different languages and cultures:

  • Hindi: Kuchla, Kuchila
  • English: Nux Vomica, Strychnine Tree
  • Bengali: Kuchila
  • Marathi: Kuchala
  • Tamil: Etti, Erandi
  • Telugu: Ettela, Kuchila
  • Kannada: Ette, Kuchila
  • Gujarati: Kuchila
  • Punjabi: Kuchila, Kuchala

Botanical Name

Scientifically classified as Strychnos nux-vomica, Kupilu belongs to the Loganiaceae family.


Kupilu finds its botanical family in Loganiaceae, a family recognized for various medicinal plants, including Strychnos ignatii.

Scientific Classification of Dravya

Kupilu’s scientific classification provides insights into its botanical lineage and evolutionary relationships.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (Vanaspati)
  • Sub-Kingdom: Phanerogamia (Pushpavarna)
  • Division (Phylum): Angiosperms (Rajadaniya)
  • Class: Dicotyledons (Dvandvahstha)
  • Order: Gentianales (Agni Vargas)
  • Family: Loganiaceae (Aparajitavarga)
  • Genus: Strychnos (Vishavarga)
  • Species: nux-vomica (Vamsha)

Classical Classification of Dravya (Gana)

Kupilu’s classification in the classical Ayurvedic texts is elucidated below.

Bhavprakash Nighantu: Amradi varga

Charak Samhita: Upvisha gana

Sushruta Samhita: Upvisha gana

External Morphology

Kupilu presents itself as a medium-sized evergreen tree with glossy leaves and orange-red fruit. The seeds, which contain the medicinal properties, are flat, disc-shaped, and covered with a thin, greyish, and woolly seed coat.

Useful Parts

The seeds of Kupilu are the primary source of its medicinal properties. These seeds are processed to obtain various formulations used in traditional medicine.

  1. Seeds: The seeds, also known as nux vomica seeds, are the most utilized part of Kupilu for medicinal purposes.

Important Phytoconstituents

Kupilu is a storehouse of alkaloids, with strychnine and brucine being the major constituents. These alkaloids are responsible for the toxic nature of Kupilu. Other components include loganin, a glycoside found in the seeds.

The alkaloids, particularly strychnine, contribute to the medicinal properties of Kupilu, although it’s important to note that the plant is highly toxic and should be used with extreme caution.

Rasa Panchaka (Taste Profile):

  • Rasa (Predominant Taste): Tikta (Bitter), Katu (Pungent)
  • Guna (Qualities): Laghu (Light)
  • Veerya (Potency): Ushna (Hot)
  • Vipaka (Post-Digestive Taste): Katu (Pungent)
  • Prabhava (Special Efficacy): The special efficacy of Kupilu isn’t explicitly mentioned due to its primarily toxic nature.

Action on Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala:

  • Dosha: Kupilu, balances the doshas – Vata and Kapha.It aggravates Pitta dosha.
  • Dhatu: It has a specific action on the Majja dhatu (nervous tissue), influencing the central nervous system.
  • Mala: The toxin doesn’t specifically target waste products (Mala) but can severely disrupt bodily functions.

Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indications):

  1. Nervous Disorders:
    • Indications: In certain Ayurvedic formulations, highly diluted forms of Kupilu might be used to address specific neurological disorders.
    • Mechanism of Action: The alkaloids present in Kupilu, especially strychnine, have stimulant effects on the central nervous system. In controlled doses, it might be considered for conditions where nervous stimulation is beneficial.
  2. Digestive Disorders:
    • Indications: In some formulations, Kupilu may be included in highly diluted forms for specific digestive issues.
    • Mechanism of Action: Due to its bitter taste and potential impact on digestive processes, Kupilu might be considered in formulations aimed at addressing certain digestive imbalances.

Amayikaprayoga (Therapeutic Administration):

  1. High Dilution:
    • If considered for therapeutic use, Kupilu is highly diluted to minimize its toxicity.
    • It might be used in the form of potentized extracts or preparations made through a specialized dilution process.

Matra (Dose):

  1. Highly Controlled Dosage:
    • In case of extremely specialized and controlled therapeutic use, the dosage of Kupilu is meticulously calculated and precisely controlled.
    • The dosage is highly individualized, and it is essential to follow the exact dosage prescribed by a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
    • The dosage is usually minuscule and administered in highly diluted forms to mitigate the risk of toxicity while potentially utilizing its therapeutic benefits.


  • Kupilu is highly toxic, and any attempt to use it therapeutically should only be made by qualified practitioners with extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with toxic substances.
  • The therapeutic use of Kupilu is not common and is typically avoided due to the high risk of severe poisoning.
  • Self-medication or experimentation with Kupilu in any form, even in minute quantities, can be life-threatening and is strongly discouraged.

Vishishta Yoga (Names of Important Formulations):

Important Formulations containing Kupilu:

  1. Kupilu Vati: A tablet or pill form that might be used in specific Ayurvedic preparations.
  2. Vishatinduk Vati: Useful in Vata doshas.
  3. Ekang Veer Rasa: Useful in neurological disorders.

Note: The use of Kupilu in formulations is highly specialized and is not common due to its toxicity.

Vishakta Lakshan (Adverse Effects):

Adverse Effects of Kupilu may include:

  1. Toxicity: Kupilu is highly toxic, and even small quantities can lead to severe poisoning.
  2. Neurological Effects: Strychnine, a major component, affects the central nervous system, leading to convulsions and spasms.

Chikitsopachara (Remedial Measures):

  1. Poisoning: In case of Kupilu poisoning, immediate medical attention is crucial. Activated charcoal may be administered to absorb the toxin.
  2. Supportive Measures: Supportive care includes controlling seizures, maintaining respiratory function, and providing symptomatic relief.

Shodhana (Purification method):

Purification of Kupilu:

  • The seeds are wrapped in a cotton cloth, dipped in cow’s milk and boiled for 3 hrs.After boiling seeds are crushed and its outer skin is removed.Now the seeds are boiled again.This procedure is repeated for 7 days.Then these purified seeds are fried with ghee and powdered.


  • Kupilu is a highly toxic substance, and its use is strictly contraindicated without proper knowledge and supervision.
  • The information provided here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for guidance on the use of medicinal substances.

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Note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of any other medical condition.

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