The healing power of fallow nut

The fallow tree is an evergreen deciduous tree that can reach 25 meters in height. Fruits come to the tree that are quite bitter; these fruits contain the fallow nuts that can be used for therapeutic purposes. The tree is native to an area that includes South East Asia; you see it from India to North Australia. In the Philippines, Java, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Sri Lanka.
Botanical drawing fallow / Source: Franz Eugen Kцhler, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)


Poison for humans

The fallow nut contains strychnine and is therefore a highly toxic product; it is strongly advised against experimenting with strychnine yourself; only 30 mg can be fatal for some people. For snails and hornbills, however, the fallow nut is not a poison but a food source. The toxicity not only indicates a hazard but also a medicinal efficacy. Scientific research shows that the fallow nut can work against snake venom. The fallow nut used to be used in mainstream medicine, but nowadays they prefer to use patented poisons for commercial reasons.


The fallow nut tree becomes Latin Strychnos nux vomica mentioned. Nux means "nut" and vomica stands for "vomiting"; hence the name fallow in Dutch.

Active substances

The seed of the fallow nut tree is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. This contains the following important active ingredients: indole alkaloids such as strychnine, brucine and the secondary alkaloids colubrins, icajine, vomicin, novacin, pseudostrychin and isostrychin.

Fallow nut, a tonic for nervous system and body

The fallow nut has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system; it is a tonic or strengthening agent for the entire body. It is also possible that people are tired because of a certain disease; then fallow does not work. For the elderly, fallow nut would be a solution, or a standardized dose of 2mg of strychnine would be possible to recuperate someone. The sensory functions, respiration and circulation become more powerful through the use of strychnine from fallow nut. Furthermore, mental and physical well-being increases. Brucine together with strychnine is responsible for an improved stimulus transfer in the central nervous system. These fabrics or the fallow nut itself are sometimes in a mix of reinforcing agents. In herbal medicine it could be prescribed for:
  • Mental fatigue,
  • Physical exhaustion,
  • Reduced blood flow,
  • Reduced breathing,
  • Physical weakness due to old age.

Fallow nut, good for digestion

Fallow nut tastes sharply bitter and is good for digestion, like many bitter products. It stimulates appetite and improves digestion in general. It can be used for the following diseases:
Fallow nuts / Source: Lalithamba, Flickr (CC BY-2.0)
  • Atonia or reduced tone,
  • Nervous upset stomach,
  • Chronic alcoholism.
Some components from fallow nut can neutralize snake venom.


There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant.
  • Powder: 50mg three times a day, with a maximum of 100mg at a time and 300mg per day.
  • Fallow nut extract: 3 times daily 10 mg per day and 45 mg per day.
  • Tincture: Three times 500 mg per time.


No side effects are known at the therapeutic doses.
  • The use of fallow nut is almost completely abandoned because of the possible, very serious consequences in the event of an overdose.
  • Fallow nut extract works better than isolated strychnine.
  • High doses may be the cause of poisoning symptoms associated with anxiety, increased sensitivity to light and sound, muscle stiffness, convulsions and, in the worst case, may lead to diaphragm stiffening and respiratory center depression.
  • Fallow nut preparations are not compatible with compounds that precipitate alkaloids such as tannins and alkalis.
  • Never use fallow nut on your own, but follow the instructions of a herbal therapist.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

A large part of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Large Handbook Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a manual in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who is troubled by something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best means, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.

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