from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A white poisonous glycoside, C29H44O12, extracted from the seeds of several African trees of the genera Strophanthus and Acokanthera, that is used as a dart poison in some parts of Africa.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A glucoside which exists in the root and wood of ouabaio (wabaio), Acokanthera ouabaio, from which is prepared the arrow-poison of the Somalis of the east coast of Africa.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun g-strophanthin, a poisonous cardiac glycoside.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From French ouabaïo, from Somali wabayo.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Through French from Somali waabaayo, "arrow poison".


  • The active principle is a chemical called ouabain, and it is a powerful stimulant of the muscles of the heart.

    The Serpent and the Rainbow

  • Ph.D. thesis research on the effects of experimental congestive heart failure, asphyxia and ouabain on high energy phosphates and creatine content of the guinea pig heart.

    Robert F. Furchgott - Autobiography

  • Myers, Widespread occurrence in frogs and toads of skin compounds interacting with the ouabain site of Na+, K+, ATPase, Science 208 1980: 503-5; Kennedy, A.

    The Serpent and the Rainbow

  • In moderate dosage ouabain is used today to treat emergency heart failure; in excessive doses it makes the heart go crazy, pumping wildly until it collapses.

    The Serpent and the Rainbow

  • Acokanthera shrub, which has bark filled with "ouabain", closely-related to a source of arrow poison famously used to kill elephants. News

  • Such mastication appears to liberate the ouabain from the bark and mix it with saliva to form a coarse colloid, which is then specifically applied only to the lateral line hairs. News

  • "It's been known for a long time that injecting the sodium/potassium pump inhibitor ouabain into the brain can induce seizures in rats," says Clapcote, and it's also known that mice lacking two of three forms of the pump - either the "alpha1" or "alpha2" forms - are free from seizures.

    New Scientist - Online News

  • Action of ouabain on submaxillary secretion in the dog


  • Figure 5C, the application of 0.1 mM ouabain for 1 min substantially reduces the massive postplateau hyperpolarizations in membrane-tethered δ-ACTX-Hv1a-expressing lLN

    PLoS Biology: New Articles

  • The continued increase in ouabain effect following washout is likely due to slow tissue diffusion of the hydrophobic drug.

    PLoS Biology: New Articles


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