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COLOCYNTH                                                         577

The Chemical Examiner of Bengal also describes the following two
homicidal cases of "sui" poisoning : —

A Santalin widow had some property and her husband's younger brother who was
likely to inherit the property after her death, was not on good terms with her. So she
had executed a deed adopting her brother's son. While asleep one night, an -unknown
person came at midnight and gave a chati or slap of bish (poison) on her chest. She
extricated the thorn-like substance from her chest and kept it. Next morning she went
to her brother's house in another village. On the fifth day after the injury she felt
serious pain in the chest and a local doctor was called in. She could then speak with
great difficulty. She died on the seventh day after the injury. Abrus precatorius was
detected in the thorn-like substance.1^

A Hindu woman was attacked by her nephews one night while sleeping and severely
handled by them. They then ran away, and she felt a burning sensation over her body
and found some broken pieces of a conical shaped substance stuck near her breast and
other similar fragments in her bed. The woman did not die. Abrus precatorius was
detected in the fragments.19

According to Rai Bahadur Bagchi, Chemical Examiner to the Govern-
ment of Bengal, malingerers use the powdered seeds of Abrus precatorius to
produce conjunctivitis. They take a little of the powder on the index finger
and rub it gently on the inside of the lower eyelid and allow it to remain
till they count ten. If the powder is kept longer, purulent ophthalmia may

When taken internally by women, the seeds of Abrus precatorius
disturb the uterine function and prevent conception.20 Hence they are
sometimes made into pills and are sold as birth control pills.


This is the dried pulp of the fruit of Citrullug Colocynthis (N.O. Cucur-
bitaceae), which grows widely throughout India. The pulp freed from its
seeds is a pharmacopoeial drug, called Colocynthis (Colocynthtitis pulpa),
and occurs as white, spongy, light fragments, having an intensely bitter taste.
It is the chief ingredient of Extractum colocyntkidis compositum, the dose
being 2 to 8 grains. Colocynthidis Pulvis (Powdered colocynth) is another
pharmacopoeial preparation, which enters into the composition of Pilula
colocyntkidis et hyoscyami, the dose being 4 to 8 grains. Both the extract
and the pill are largely used as purgatives.

The root and the fruit of the plant contain a glycoside colocynthin, which
is amorphous or crystalline, bitter in taste and readily soluble in water and
alcohol. It is a drastic purgative and acts as a powerful irritant to the
alimentary canal, when taken in large doses.

Symptoms.—Severe abdominal pain; vomiting of a yellow colour contain-
ing mucus but no blood; frequency of watery, yellow coloured stools, often
stained with blood; irregular pulse ; collapse and occasionally death.

Fatal Dose and Fatal Period.—The fatal dose is about 15 to 30 grains, but
recovery has occurred from much larger doses. The fatal period is usually
within twenty-four hours, but may be delayed longer.

Treatment—Empty the stomach, give morphine to allay pain and
administer demulcents, astringents, and stimulants.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Redness, inflammation and occasionally
ulceration of the stomach and intestines. The liver and kidneys may be

18.    Annual Report, 1929, p. 14.

19.   Annual Report, 1930, p. 10.

20.    Kirtikar and Basu, Indian Medicinal Plants ; Bombay Chem. Analyser's Annual
Rep., 1939, p. 6.