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Claude Bernard on the action of curare

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 04 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:622
  1. John Black, retired consultant paediatrician
  1. Framlingham, Suffolk.

    Claude Bernard (1813-78) was professor of experimental physiology in Paris Among many original observations he was the first to elucidate the “fonction glycogènique” of the liver and invented the term “milieu intèrieur.”

    The following is an abridged version, which I have translated, of “Physiological studies on certain American poisons,” first published in La revue des deux mondes in 1864.

    “Curare has been known since its discovery in Guyana by Walter Raleigh in 1595. Raleigh reported on this poison in Europe, used on poisoned arrows, under the name ‘Curari.’ The symptoms of death from curare, all observers agree, are quite characteristic.

    “Watterton has described the death of a man poisoned by curare. Two Indians were hunting for game in the forest. One of them took a poisoned arrow and shot it at a red …

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