- A muscle relaxant used in anesthesia (and, in the past, in arrow poisons by South American Indians). Curare competes with acetylcholine, a chemical that carries information between nerve and muscle cells, and blocks transmission of the information.
* * *An extract of various plants, especially Strychnos toxifera, S. castelnaei, S. crevauxii, and Chondodendron tomentosum, that produces nondepolarizing paralysis of skeletal muscle after intravenous injection by blocking transmission at the myoneuronal junction; used clinically ( e.g., as d-tubocurarine chloride, metocurine iodide) to provide muscle relaxation during surgical operations. Often classified by the vessels with which Amazon and Orinoco Indians stored c.. SYN: arrow poison (1). [S. Am.]- calabash c. (packed by Indians in hollow gourds), c. from Strychnos sp.; contains yohimbine, indole, and strychnine-type alkaloids.- tube c. (c. stored in bamboo tubes), c. from Chondodendron sp.; contains the alkaloid tubocurarine.
* * *cu·ra·re also cu·ra·ri k(y)u̇-'rär-ē n a dried aqueous extract esp. of a vine (as Strychnos toxifera of the family Loganiaceae or Chondodendron tomentosum of the family Menispermaceae) that produces muscle relaxation and is used in arrow poisons by So. American Indians compare TUBOCURARINE
* * *n.an extract from the bark of South American trees (Strychnos and Chondodendron species) that relaxes and paralyses voluntary muscle. Used for centuries as an arrow poison by South American Indians, curare was formerly employed to control the muscle spasms of tetanus and as a muscle relaxant in surgical operations.
* * *cu·ra·re (koo-rahґre) [South American Indian Kurari] a term applied to a wide variety of highly toxic extracts from numerous botanical sources, including various species of Strychnos and Chondrodendron; used originally as arrow poisons in South America. The most commonly used active principle of curare is tubocurarine (q.v.), obtained from Chondodendron tomentosum.
Medical dictionary. 2011.