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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ALOES                                                                595

In his annual report for the year 1931, the Chemical Examiner, Madras, mentions a
case in which a son attempted to poison his father by mixing the leaves in vegetable
curry. The attempt was immediately detected by the taste. After the second morsel
had been taken, the father spat out the food and vomited. He did not suffer from any
other symptoms. The son was found guilty and was sentenced to five years' rigorous
imprisonment. In his annual report for the year 1940, the Chemical Examiner, Bengal,
also mentions a case where a Santal woman, aged about 30 years, died in two hours
after this poison was administered to her in some fermented rice water.


This evergreen plant belongs to N.O. Euphorbiacese. Its seeds contain a pale yellow,
acrid oil, which has almost the same action as croton oil. Applied externally, it causes
irritation, and has a purgative action, when administered internally. Twelve to fifteen
drops of the oil produce alarming symptoms. Four seeds act as a violent cathartic and
a few grains of the cake left after the expression of the oil may produce severe vomiting
and purging.58

JThe active principle of the oil is jatrophic acid, but the seeds owe their toxic pro-
perties to a toxalbumin, called curcin, and analogous to ricin.

Symptoms.—Burning sensation in the throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, pain in the abdomen
and general depression. Occasionally there may be muscular twitchings, deafness, im-
pairment of sight and loss of memory.

In his annual report for the year 1927, the Bombay Chemical Analyser reports a case
where three children were taken to the J. J. Hospital by their father who said that they
had eaten some Jatropha seeds and thereafter had been taken ill with vomiting and
diarrhoea. One of the boys had eaten about six seeds, and he had ten attacks of vomit-
ing and five or six offensive motions. The boy had rather rapid and feeble pulses and
slightly dilated pupils. The respirations were hurried, and the surface of the body was
cold particularly in those who had the severest symptoms. In his annual report for the
year 1940 he also describes the cases of five children, aged 4, 6, 8, 9 and 14 years res-
pectively, who ate some seeds of Jatropha curcas and suffered from vomiting, diarrhoea
and colicky pain in the abdomen.

Identification of Jatropha seeds.—This can be done by a microscopic examination of
the prismatic cells of their outer coats, which present' the following characteristic fea-
tures : —

(i) Cross-section at the top.—The cells in Jatropha seeds are polygonal in shape,
and are about 17 micro-millimetres in diameter. The lumen is slit-like.

(ii) Side-view.—The cells are about 400 micro-niiUimetres in length, and taper in
width from 17 micro-millimetres at the top to about 12 micro-millimetres at the bottom.
The cells show a uniform lumen varying in diameter from about 1 to 6 micro-millimetres.
The cell-walls show fine transverse striae, which give the cells a ribbed appearance.


This plant belongs to N.O. Euphorbiacese. Its fruit is known as the French physic
nut. Three nuts have produced violent vomiting, purging, intense burning pain in the
stomach and great prostration. Recovery occurred after the use of lime juice and


This plant belongs to N.O. Euphorbiacese. Its leaves are covered with hairs, which,
if rubbed against the skin, produce irritation, inflammation and severe prostration.


This is the inspissated juice derived from the leaves of Aloe Vulgaris and other
species belonging to N.O. Liliaceae. Its active principle is aloin. Aloes and aloin are
both used- as purgatives in doses of 2 to 5 grains and i to 1 gram respectively. Aloes is
also contained in the official preparation of Pilula aloes, having the dose of 4 to 8 grains.

In large doses aloes acts as an irritant poison, 2 drachms having proved fatal to a
woman in 12 hours. The symptoms are chiefly colic, abdominal pain, diarrhoea with
tenesmus and motions containing blood, great prostration and death. The chief post-
mortem appearance is inflammation of the stomach and small intestine to some extent.

Aloes increases the menstrual flow reflexly by stimulating -the uterus. It is, there-
fore, used as an abortifacient. Aloes is a leading ingredient in most quack aperient
pills, and one of the chief ingredients of Morison's pills, the other ingredient being

58.   Taylor, Princ. and Pract. of Med. Juris., Vol. II, Ed. X, p. 712.