Skip to main content

Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

See other formats

CROTON TIGLUJM                                                     571

used for illumination, and a small grey seed having bright, polished, brown
spots and yieldng 37 per cent of oil, the better quality of which is used for
medicinal purposes.

In his annual report for the year 1937 S. Rajagopal Naidu, Chemical
Examiner, Madras, mentions that a microscopic examination of the prismatic
cells in the outer coats of castor, croton, jequirity and jatropha seeds has been
found useful in their identification.

The coats of the seeds are cleared by warming in 5 per cent potassium
chloride solution in dilute nitric acid over a boiling water-bath till the colour
is bleached and the tissues are softened.

The microscopic features of the outer coat of castor seed are as
follows : —

(i) Cross-section at the top.—The cells are polygonal in shape, and
are about 17 micro-millimetres in diameter. The lumen is almost circular.

(ii) Side view.—The cells are about 250 micro-millimetres long, and
taper in width towards the bottom, the width at the top being about 17
micro-millimetres and at the bottom about 8 micro-millimetres. The cells
show a uniform lumen of about 3 micro-millimetres in diameter. The cell-
walls show fine transverse striae giving the cells a ribbed appearance.

Medico-Legal Points.—Accidental cases occur among children from eating
the seeds in mistake. The seeds have been criminally administered in food.

A case is recorded in which a khidmatgar (servant), out of spite, gave castor oil in
some tea to his master and his -wife. Both of them were taken ill. Castor oil was
detected in the vomit.5

The powder of the seeds causes conjunctivitis when applied to the eye,
and causes irritation of the nose and throat when inhaled.

Although non-poisonous, castor oil may act as an irritant poison to
infants. A newly-born infant died of inflammation of the intestines after the
administration of castor oil.6

Ricin. acts much more powerfully when injected into the blood than
when taken by the mouth, as it is destroyed mostly by the digestive ferments.
When small non-toxic doses are injected subcutaneously for some time,
immunity is produced, antiricin being formed.

Ricin is excreted by the intestinal epithelium.


This plant belongs to N.O. Euphorbiacese, and grows all over India. Its
seeds are very poisonous, and contain crotifi, a toxalbumin, similar to ricin,
but less poisonous and crotonoside, a recently isolated glycoside. The oil
(croton oil) expressed from the seeds contains a powerful vesicating resin
composed chiefly of crotonoleic acid, tiglic or methyl crotonic acid, crotonol
and several volatile and fatty acids. It is brownish-yellow to dark reddish-
brown in colour, and has a disagreeable odour and an acrid, burning taste.
It dissolves freely in alcohol, ether, chloroform or olive oil. It is a B.P.C.
preparation, known as Oleum crotonis (Oleum tiglii), and is given as a
drastic purgative in \ to 1-minim doses.

When dropped on the skin, croton oil produces burning, redness and
vesication; the vesicles may later suppurate and cause scarring. When
swallowed, it acts on the stomach and intestines and produces gastro-intesti-
nal irritation.

Symptoms.—Hot burning pain in the mouth and throat extending to the
abdomen; salivation; vomiting; purging with severe griping pain and
bloody stools ; vertigo; great prostration; collapse and death.

5.   Sind Chemical Analyser's Annual Report, 1925, p. 22.

6.   Pharm. Jour., Sep. 25, 1943, Vol. CLI, p. 118.