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TAXUS  BACCATA                                                       591

Poisoning may occur either from ingestion of the seeds or from absorption of an
ointment containing seeds applied to the broken or abraded skin. Inhalation of the
powder may cause irritation of the nose and eyes.


This plant belongs to N.O. Ranunculacese. All its parts are poisonous. The root
is employed as a hydragogue, cathartic, emmenagogue and anthelmintic. It is given in
five to ten-grain doses, but in larger doses it acts as an irritant-narcotic poison. The
active principles are two glucosides, helleborin, and helleborein.

Helleborin is a narcotic poison, acting on the brain. Helleborein resembles digitalis
and acts as a cardiac poison in large doses. It is also a drastic purgative.

Symptoms.—These are vomiting, pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea, profuse perspiration,
convulsions, insensibility and death.

Fatal Dose and Fatal Period.—Nearly 31 grams of an aqueous extract of the root
have proved fatal to a man, 50 years old, within 8 hours. A decoction of the root has
caused death in less than 2 hours.

Treatment.—Evacuate the stomach, administer stimulants and give morphine to allay
pain and check diarrhoea.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Not characteristic. Inflammation of the mucous mem-
brane of the stomach.


This belongs to N.O. Leguminpsse. It grows wild in gardens, shrubberies and woods
in England. All parts of the plant,' viz. the wood, bark, flowers, pods and seeds, produce
toxic effects, when taken internally. The plant has a most nauseous and disagreeable
odour and taste. The active principle is an alkaloid, cytisine, which is the chief ingredient
contained in Australian or Persian insect powder.

Symptoms.—Pain in. the stomach, thirst, nausea, vomiting, purging, giddiness,
collapse, drowsiness and coma. Occasionally convulsions and delirium have preceded
death. The pupils are usually dilated, but may be found contracted. Death results from
paralysis of the respiratory and vaso-motor centres.

Fatal Dose.—Not known.  Three or four seeds are enough to produce toxic symptoms.

Fatal Period.—Death has occurred from one to thirty hours. In one case it took
place on the seventh day.

Treatment.—Give emetics or wash out the stomach with medicinal charcoal sus-
pended hi warm water. Administer stimulants, give large quantities of fluids and lavage
the colon. Resort to artificial respiration, if necessary.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Not characteristic. The brain and its membranes may
be congested. The stomach and intestines may be inflamed.

Tests.—1. Strong sulphuric acid dissolves cytisine without effecting any change of
colour but on heating, the solution acquires a yellow colour.

2.   A mixture of sulphuric and nitric acids produces a yellow colour.

3.   Ferric chloride solution gives a blood-red colour, which disappears on adding
hydrogen peroxide.   On further heating, it assumes a blue colour.

Medico-Legal Points.—Accidental cases of poisoning have occurred among children
owing to their having eaten the bark in.mistake for liquorice, as well as the seeds which
are sweet in taste.

Cytisine is eliminated largely in the urine, and to some extent in the faeces^ as well
as in the saliva.


, This is a large, evergreen txee^of temperate Himalayas and belongs to N.O. Coniferae.
The poisonous symptoms*are",due, to an,alkaloid, taxine. contained in the leaves and seeds
of its berries. Taxhie is an amorphous powder, hardly soluble in water, but dissolves
in alcohol; ether and chloroform! The medicinal dose is 1/100 to 1/60 grain. The leaves
are sold as birmi and talispatra in Indian towns.                          -                                  >

Symptoms.—Giddiness, dilated pupilsr vomiting, purging, pain in the abdomen, small,
irregular pulse, slow, laboured breathing, muscular weakness, collapse, convulsions, in-
sensibility, delirium or coma. Death may occur from cardiac and respiratory failure.

Fatal Dose.—Unknown. One teaspoonful of the leaves, and four berries have res-
pectively caused death.

Fatal Periods-Death occurs within four or eight hottfs, but may be delayed for
several days.