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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

584

MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

The fresh leaves and stalks of these plants, when crushed, exude a thick,
acrid, milky juice which, according to Rajagopal Naidu,35 has a specific
gravity of 1.021, is acid in reaction and contains 14.8 per cent of solids. The
juice forms into a white clot or coagulum leaving a clear, straw-coloured
serum after it is heated or allowed to stand for some time. The coagulum
yields a yellowish-brown resin and a snow-white, crystalline substance,
having the formula O^H^Cfe. The resin is slightly poisonous, about eight
milligrammes being necessary to kill a frog, weighing- about 20 grammes,
while the white crystalline substance is insoluble in water and is non-
poisonous, but it is soluble in most of the organic solvents, such as alcohol,
acetone, ether and petroleum ether, and still more soluble in chloroform and
carbon tetrachloride.

The serum contains 3 per cent of solids, and is highly toxic, 0.05 ml.
being sufficient to kill a frog, weighing about ten grammes, in a few minutes.
N. Pitchandi36 of the Department of the Chemical Examiner, Madras, has
isolated from this serum a white, crystalline substance, named giganiAn,
having the formula C24H3609 and melting with decomposition at 323°C. It
is soluble in alcohol, but sparingly soluble in water and is one of the most
virulent poisons, being about fifteen to twenty times as poisonous as strych-
nine. It acts locally as an irritant poison and, after absorption, acts as a
cerebro-spinal poison. A dose of 0.5 mg. per kilogramme of body weight
injected peritoneally proves fatal to a dog, the symptoms being retching,
purging, extreme restlessness and severe respiratory embarrassment with
anxious expression and prominent eyes. A dose of 0.2 to 0.25 mg. per kilo-
gramme of body weight injected intravenously kills a dog in sixty minutes.

When applied to the skin, madar juice acts as a local irritant poison,
producing redness, inflammation and vesication, It irritates the eyes and
may cause inflammation involving eye-
sight when dropped into them. When
administered internally, it acts as a gastro-
intestinal irritant and also as a cerebro-
spinal poison.

When used in the form of snuff, the
powdered madar root may cause death.
In his annual report for the year 1938, the
Chemical Examiner, Bengal, mentions a
case in which a man, about 44 years old,
who had been suffering from chronic pain
in the lumbar region for about a year, was
given by a village herbalist powdered
madar root in mistake for powdered
indrayan (colocynth) root to be used as
snuff. After about half-an-hour he deve-
loped symptoms of poisoning, gradually
became unconscious, and died soon after-
wards. The rapid death was probably
due to the patient's idiosyncrasy to the
drug.

Fig, 175.—Calotropls Gigantea.

Symptoms.—When taken internally, madar juice gives rise to an acrid,
bitter taste and a burning pain in the throat and stomach, These are
followed by salivation, stomatitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, dilated pupils, tetanic
convulsions, collapse and death. Sometimes, there may be delirium.

35.   Madras Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1936, p. 13; see also Ibid,, 1932, p.
o J lulu., l&Sdj p. 11.

36.   Jour, and Proc. Just, Chem., Vol. XX, March 1948, p. 34.