in small doses it was used in tonics, but larger doses lead to a terrible death
Dr Cream was the expert, using it on London girls of the night.
Initially he administered the strychnine together with a white liquid mixture of brocine, telling his victims that the tonic would help to clear up pimpled skin and give them a healthier complexion. However, after the girls complained that the medicine was too bitter, Cream ordered a box of gelatin capsules from a local chemist in which to mask the taste of the poison and make it more palatable. Dr. Cream chose his London victims carefully; they were all streetwalkers living within the Lambeth area, a place that Cream knew well should he need to flee to his lodging house or lose the trail of ensuing police officers.
he told the hangman that he was Jack the Ripper but few believe that. Modus operandi was different, the time line doesn't fit, and he had a good alibi: He was in jail.
(the Ripper murders were done in 1888-1889, with one possible copy cat murder in 1891)
a more detailed story of Cream's deeds here. Heh. He was jailed for attempted murder of a girlfriend's hubbie in Chicago but was released after bribing someone there, in 1891.
Strychnine is not a chemical but comes from a tree.
more here at the PoisonGarden website.
It kills you by making you convulse. A nasty way to go, even if you are a rat.
and this FYI from the Aussie Bush tucker site:
The fruit and bark of the tree were mashed up to use as a body wash to help cure general illness. It was also used tossed into small pools of water to stun the fish which soon floated and were caught by hand before being cooked and eaten.