Tubocurarine chloride is a competitive neuromuscular blocker, used to paralyse patients undergoing anaesthesia. It is one of the chemicals that can be obtained from curare, itself an extract of Chondodendron tomentosum, a plant found in South American jungles which is used as a source of arrow poison. more...
The correct chemical structure was only elucidated circa 1970, even though the plant had been known since the Spanish Conquest.
The word curare comes from the South American Indian name for the arrow poison: "ourare". Presumably the initial syllable was pronounced with a heavy glottal stroke. Tubocurarine is so called because it the plant samples containing it were first shipped to Europe in tubes.
Today, tubocurarine has fallen into disuse in western medicine, as safer synthetic alternatives such as atracurium besilate are available.
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