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File:Bulbocapnine skeletal.svg
style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" | Identifiers
CAS number 298-45-3
PubChem 12441
ChemSpider 11934
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style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" | Properties
Molecular formula C19H19NO4
Molar mass 325.36 g/mol
Melting point

201-203 °C, racemate 213-214 °C

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Bulbocapnine is an alkaloid found in Corydalis and Dicentra, herbs in the family Fumariaceae that can cause fatal poisoning in sheep and cattle. It has been shown to act as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor,[1] and inhibits biosynthesis of dopamine via inhibition of the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase.[2][3]

According to the Dorlands Medical Dictionary, it "inhibits the reflex and motor activities of striated muscle. It has been used in the treatment of muscular tremors and vestibular nystagmus"[4]. The psychiatrist Robert Heath carried out experiments on prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary using bulbocapnine to induce stupor.[5].

The author William S. Burroughs references the drug in his book Naked Lunch, in which the fictional Dr. Benway uses it to induce obedience in torture victims.

See also


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  1. Adsersen A, Kjølbye A, Dall O, Jäger AK. Acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase inhibitory compounds from Corydalis cava Schweigg. & Kort. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2007 Aug 15;113(1):179-82. PMID 17574358
  2. Zhang YH, Shin JS, Lee SS, Kim SH, Lee MK. Inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase by bulbocapnine. Planta Medica. 1997 Aug;63(4):362-3. PMID 9270381
  3. Shin JS, Kim KT, Lee MK. Inhibitory effects of bulbocapnine on dopamine biosynthesis in PC12 cells. Neuroscience Letters. 1998 Mar 20;244(3):161-4. PMID 9593514
  4. Dorlands Medical Dictionary at Merck
  5. Scheflin, A.W. & Opton, E.M. (1978) The Mind Manipulators: a non-fiction account. (Paddington Press: New York) ISBN 0448229773 pp. 314-315.