I first encountered Strophanthus about 25 years ago from my primary teacher in medicine, a German physician by the name of Otto Wolff, MD. He was passionate about Strophanthus, even having gone so far as to make a few treks into the African jungles to observe the habits of this tremendous creeping vine firsthand. He observed the indigenous native tribesmen who dipped their arrows into a slurry made of an extract of the seeds of Strophanthus, which they used to temporarily paralyze their prey. The Strophanthus seeds were found to contain an oily substance with a chemical called oubain, which was found to be a potent cardiac inotrope, even stronger that digitalis.
Initial enthusiasm for strophanthus as a medicine was tempered when it was claimed that the oubain could not be absorbed into the body through the oral route. As time went on, much to Dr. Wolff’s disappointment, it was nearly abandoned as a medicine. Then a few studies were done in association with the one remaining manufacturer of oubain, the medicine now being called Strodival. One study of patients with angina showed 81% of patients had complete remission of their anginal (chest pain) symptoms, as compared to 72% of the control group who did not take Strodival and whose angina worsened (World Research Foundation report). A second study showed that after MI, the use of Strodival decreased the evidence of progression of the MI — often within minutes — in 85% of the subjects, a remarkable result. It was found that, as with digitalis, the heart uses oubain in its endogenous communication system. It is as if digitalis and strophanthus contain exact copies of the hormones that the heart uses to regulate its own beat and elasticity.
Luckily for us, the fears of my dear teacher Otto Wolff may not come to pass. A number of cardiac clinics and hospitals in Europe have rediscovered the cardiac tonic effect of strophanthus as well as its swift onset of action. It is said that a sublingual dose of Strodival will often stop angina within minutes and can also have a positive effect on developing MIs again within a very brief period of time.
I would encourage all my patients with an interest in digitalis and strophanthus in the treatment of angina/MI to read carefully the following article, visit the website www.infarctcombat.org, and then get in touch with me to discuss this further.