The plant Strychnos ignatia, commonly known as St. Ignatius’ bean, is a tropical broad-leafed tree endemic to the Philippines and some parts of China. It yields a pear-like fruit that contains toxic, almond-like seeds.
Ignatia is a member of the genus Strychnos, which comprises nearly 200 species of tropical, fruit-bearing trees. Most members of this botanical classification are toxic.
Ignatia contains the highly toxic compounds strychnine and brucine, which can cause tremor, vomiting, anxiety, seizures, restlessness, paralysis and death. It is considered toxic even in small doses.
While some of ignatia’s botanical relatives are safe enough for use as anticoagulants and antispasmodics, ignatia is not recognized as safe by any folk or modern system of medicine. It is rarely exported because it lacks significant commercial value.
Use in Homeopathy
Ignatia is sometimes used in homeopathic preparations. It is commonly indicated by homeopaths as a treatment for mood disorders; there is no scientific evidence to support this use.
Because inert homeopathic remedies often are sold alongside pharmacologically active herbs, homeopathic ignatia is sometimes confused with St. Ignatius’ bean. St. Ignatius’ bean is not sold in the United States.