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the  stomach.   The  viscera,   on  analysis,   showed  the  presence   of  madar

Accidental poisoning may sometimes occur from an overdose of a medicinal pre-
paration of madar administered by quacks. In his annual report for the year 1946,
the Chemical Examiner of the Uniiied and the Central Provinces describes the case of a
boy, aged 15 years, who had been suffering from fever and an enlarged spleen for about
two years. He was given some medicine by a quack of Allahabad, and two hours later
he began to vomit and died. The medicine was found to contain madar. In his annual
report for the year 1949, the Chemical Examiner, Bengal, also cites a case, in which a
man, who posed himself to be a medical man, prepared two doses of some medicine. He
took one of the doses and administered the other dose to another man. Soon afterwards
both of them started vomiting and died after about 12 hours. Madar was detected in
the viscera of both the deceased.

Smeared on a rag, madar juice Is sometimes used as a cattle poison. It
is either given with fodder or introduced into the rectum of the animal
intended to be killed. A case occurred at Ghazipur where a she-goat after
return from grazing died with symptoms of pain and convulsions. A cloth
"ball found in the rectum of the animal and the viscera removed from the
body revealed the presence of madar juice.45

The root, especially of Calotropis procera, is a powerful poison to cobras
and other poisonous snakes, which cannot stand even its smell. Hence it is
always carried by the snake charmers of Bengal to control the newly caught
and unruly cobras.

Both the plants are used in Africa for poisoning darts and arrows.


The roots of these plants, which belong to N.O. Plumbaginaceae, contain,
as an active principle, plumbagin, a crystalline glycoside, which exists as fine
glistening needles of a golden yellow colour. It is almost insoluble in cold
water, moderately soluble in hot water, and freely soluble in ether, chloro-
form, alcohol, benzene, acetone, etc. Externally, plumbagin46 is a powerful
irritant and has a well-marked germicidal action on bacteria and unicellular *
organisms. In small doses it acts as a sudorific and stimulates the contrac-
tion of the muscular tissue of the heart, intestine and uterus. In large doses
it causes death from respiratory failure. The minimum, lethal dose for a
frog and for a mouse has been found to be 0.5 mg. and 0.1 mg. per gramme
of body weight respectively and for a rabbit 10 mg. per kilogramme of body

Symptoms.—When applied externally, the roots produce painful irritation
and blisters; while administered internally they act as narcotico-irritant
poisons, producing pain in the stomach, thirst, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Chemical Analysis.—The root of Plumbago zeylanica is from i to 2 or
more inches thick. The dried bark is of a reddish-brown colour externally
and brown and striated internally. The root of Plumbago rosea is similar
in structure, but much smaller.

The following tests are employed for the detection of plumbagin in an
organic mixture : —

1.    Digest the mixture with alcohol and filter.

2.    Evaporate the tincture to dryness.

44.   Bengal Chem, Examiner's Annual Kept., 1936, p. 12.

45.    U.P. Chem. Examiner's Annual Report, 1929; see also Bengal Chem. Examiner's
Annual Kept., 1938, p. 14.

46.   Bhatia and Lai, Ind. Jour, of Med. Research, Jan. 1933, p. 777.

47.    Keien Ko, Japanese Jour. Med. Sciences, 1931; Chopra, Indigenous Drugs of India,
1933, p, 365.