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CROTON TIGLIUM                                                     573

The following microscopic features of its outer coat are useful for the
identification of croton seed: 

(i) Cross-section at the top.The prismatic cells of the outer coat of
the croton seed are polygonal in shape, and are about 17 micro-millimetres
in diameter. The lumen is slit-like with radiating creases.

(ii) Side-view.The cells are about 300 micro-millimetres in length,
and taper in width from 17 micro-millimetres at the top to about 8 micro-
millimetres at the bottom. The cells show a uniform lumen of 1 micro-
millimetre in diameter. The cell-walls do not show a ribbed appearance
owing to the absence of transverse striae.

Medico-Legal Points.Poisonous symptoms have been produced by eating
the seeds or by inhaling their dust. Accidental poisoning has resulted from
swallowing croton oil by mistake, from its administration as a purgative by
quacks in too large medicinal doses or from taking internally its preparation
meant for external use.

A case 8 is recorded where several people suffered from great stomach disorder and
vomiting after eating ice-cream accidentally mixed up with croton oil by mistake at a
marriage party in Delhi.

Rai Sahib G. B. Sahay, Police Surgeon, Patna, reported to me a case in which croton
seeds were purchased in mistake for Kamal Gatta, and were made into Halwa (sweet-
meat), which was partaken by thirteen persons including six adults, varying in age from
35 to 52 years, and seven children, varying in age from 1J to 8 years. Soon afterwards all
of them suffered from severe vomiting, diarrhoea consisting of watery stools with griping
pains, cold, clammy sweats, imperceptible pulse, cramps, husky voice, subnormal tempe-
rature and dilated pupils. Recovery ensued after four to six hours, when everyone had
a rise of temperature from 99 to 101F.

On November 18, 1928, a Hindu male, 45 to 50 years old, was admitted into the King
George's Hospital, Lucknow, with a history that about 14 days ago he had been given
croton oil by a hakim. At the time he was very much emaciated with hollow cheeks and
sunken eyes, and was passing involuntarily frequent motions, which were watery and
dark-brown in colour. The pupils were normal, the eyes being injected. The pulse
was feeble. He died at 3-35 p.m. on November 28twenty-four days after he took croton
oil. On post-mortem examination the stomach contained one pound of muddy coloured
liquid with mucus adherent to the mucous membrane. This was inflamed and was
excoriated at the cardiac end and at the first half of the greater curvature. There were
small patches of submucous haemorrhages at the cardiac and pyloric ends. The vessels
of the stomach were engorged with blood. The small intestine was empty, and inflamed
with extensive haemorrhages along its wall. The large intestine contained watery
greenish-yellow faecal matter. It was congested and was marked with deep ulcers along
its lower part. The spleen was congested and enlarged, and the liver and kidneys were
congested. Microscopically the stomach showed extensive necrosis of its mucous mem-
brane, acute congestion and a certain amount of inflammation of the submucous coat.
There was very marked congestion of the small intestine with necrosis of the superficial
layer of the mucous membrane. There was marked acute congestion of the large
intestine, with the mucous membrane and submucous coat filled with acute inflam-
matory catarrhal cells and with deep ulcers with markedly inflamed margins. There
were cloudy swelling and intense congestion of the kidneys.

Croton oil is ingested for suicidal purpose, though rarely. In his annual
report f6r the year 1947, the Chemical Examiner, Bengal, mentions a case in
which a man, 20 years old, committed suicide by swallowing croton oil.

Croton oil has been taken as an abortifacient and has been administered
in foo4 with homicidal intent. In his annual report for the year 1923, the
Chemical Examiner of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh reports a
case from Bareilly, where two persons suffered from irritant poisoning after
taking some gulgulas (a kind of sweetmeat) in which croton oil was detected.

A case9 of ordeal by croton seeds is recorded. A man and his brother were sus-
pected of having stolen two bales of yarn and Rs. 200 from their co-tenant. The owner
of the property decided to discover the thief through black magic. He enlisted the
services of a quack, who held a puja before an idol and distributed black pills, one pill

8.   Leader, June 29, 1924.

9,   Madras Chem, Examiner's Annual Rep., 1936, p. 9.