Skip to main content

Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

See other formats

592                                              MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

Treatment—Empty the stomach, keep the body warm, and use stimulants and
artificial respiration, if necessary.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach
which may contain fragments of the seeds or leaves of the plant.

Chemical Tests.—Strong sulphuric acid produces a reddish-violet colour, which
disappears on the addition of water. A drop of nitric acid added to sulphuric acid
solution changes the colour to rose-red. Molybdic sulphuric acid produces a deep violet
colour. An alcoholic solution of hydrochloric acid gives a green colour/*4

Medico-Legal Points.—Cases of poisoning occur accidentally among children or even
among grown-up persons on account of their eating in mistake the leaves or fruits of the
plant, and among women, who use an infusion of the leaves as an abortifacient owing
to its emmenagogic properties.

The leaves and berries are also poisonous to cattle and cause death in a few hours
without producing vomiting and purging in some cases.


This shrub belongs to N.O. Conifers, and yields a round purple fruit about the size
of a currant. It has a peculiar strong odour, and an acrid taste. Its leaves and tops
contain, as an active principle, an essential oil, oil of savin, which acts as a vesicant, when
applied externally, and acts as an irritant, when administered by the mouth. The oil and
infusion of the leaves have been often used as abortifacients, but they have no direct
ecbolic action on the uterus. They cause abortion by producing congestion of the pelvic
organs due to their irritating action, and consequently the death of the woman. Some-
times abortion may not occur and yet the woman may die from poisonous effects.

Symptoms.—A burning sensation in the throat, gullet and stomach; colicky pain
in the abdomen; vomiting, purging, though rarely; heematuria; strangury; laboured and
stertorous respiration; unconsciousness; collapse; coma and death. Salivation occurs
occasionally.                                                                                                 • i, I ; < i |*|;

Fatal Dose.—The medicinal dose of oil of savin is 1 to 4 minims and that of the
leaves is 5 to 10 grains, the maximum single dose being 7J grains and the maximum
being 15 grains during twenty-four hours,55 but the fatal dose of the oil or the leaves is
not known.

Fatal Period.—Death may ensue in a few hours or may be delayed for some days.

Treatment.—Eliminate the stomach contents; give heart stimulants, or administer
chloral hydrate or morphine, when necessary.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Acute inflammation of the oesophagus, stomach, intestines
and kidneys. There may sometimes be patches of extravasation in the gastric mucous
membrane and fragments of the leaves in the stomach contents.

Chemical Analysis.—Oil of savin may be isolated from organic matter by subjecting
it to steam distillation, and extracting the distillate with ether. The ether is then evapo-
rated, leaving the oil for examination.

Tests.—Oil of savin is colourless or pale yellow, and has a peculiar terebinthinate
odour. It gives an intense blood-red colour on the addition of strong sulphuric acid,
and explodes on the addition of fuming nitric acid, leaving a reddish-orange liquid.


This is a yellow gum-resin obtained from Garcinia morella and Garcinia hanburii
belonging to N.O. Guttifera. It is not an official drug of the British Pharmacopoeia, but
it is used as a drastic purgative, the dose being i to 2 grains. It is largely used by
quacks, and forms one of the chief ingredients of several quack vegetable pills, which
often produce the symptoms of irritant poisoning. It has occasionally proved fatal, when
used as a purgative or as an abortifacient.

Symptoms.—Severe vomiting and purging, the dejected matter being of a deep yellow
colour; abdominal pain and tenesmus; great weakness; collapse and death.

Fatal Dose.—One drachm of gamboge has proved fatal, but recovery has followed a
dose of about three drachms.

Treatment—Wash put the stomach, and administer demulcent drinks and opiates.
Combat collapse by giving cardiac and respiratory stimulants.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Signs of irritation of the alimentary tract and congestion
of the liver, spleen and kidneys.

54.   Bamford, Poisons, 'their Isolation and Identification, Ed, II, p. 176,

55.   Marfcindale, The Extra Pharmacopeia, Ed. XXI, Vol. £, p. 747,