Ignatius Bean

Other Name(s):

Bean of St. Ignatius, Fiève de Saint-Ignance, Habas de San Ignacio, Ignatia, Ignatia Amara, Lu Song Guo, Saint Ignatius-beans, Strychnos ignatii, Strychnos tieute.


Ignatius bean is gathered from the Strychnos ignatii plant. The bean is used to make medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, some people use Ignatius bean to keep from fainting. It is also used as a bitter or tonic; and as an agent to invigorate, refresh, or restore body function.

How does it work?

Ignatius bean contains the poisons strychnine and brucine. These chemicals affect the transmission of nerve impulses to muscle.

Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Preventing fainting.
  • As a tonic.
  • Other uses.
More evidence is needed to rate Ignatius bean these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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Side Effects

Ignatius bean is UNSAFE. It is poisonous. The danger is due to the strychnine and brucine it contains. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned strychnine from nonprescription drug products in 1989.

Side effects and toxicities include restlessness, feelings of anxiety, heightened sense perception, enhanced reflexes, dizziness, painful neck and back stiffness, twitching, jaw and neck spasms, painful convulsions of the entire body, increased muscle tension, difficulty in breathing, seizures, kidney failure, and death.

Long-term use of Ignatius bean, even in amounts so small that they don't seem to cause side effects, can eventually cause liver damage and be fatal. Laboratory tests on urine and stomach contents can identify strychnine poisoning as the cause of death.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Since Ignatius bean is poisonous, be especially careful not to take it if you have one of these conditions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is UNSAFE to use Ignatius bean if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It is poisonous, and can harm you and the baby.

Liver disease: Strychnine builds up in individuals with liver damage, making poisoning more likely. Also, strychnine build-up can cause liver damage.


The appropriate dose of Ignatius bean depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Ignatius bean. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.


Oberbaum, M., Schreiber, R., Rosenthal, C., and Itzchaki, M. Homeopathic treatment in emergency medicine: a case series. Homeopathy. 2003;92(1):44-47. View abstract.

Ellenhorn M. Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology: Diagnoses and Treatment of Human Poisoning. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1997.

Gruenwald J. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.

Hardman J, Limbird L. Goodman and Gillman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Hardman JG, Limbird LL, Molinoff PB, eds. Goodman and Gillman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Yarnell E, Abascal K, Hooper C. Clinical Botanical Medicine. Larchmont, NY: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc Publishers, 2003.

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