Glass does not produce the desired effect, if it gets entangled in the
mucus or food in the stomach. Similarly it will not have any bad effects,
if it is so well powdered as not to have any sharp points, or if it is so well
chewed as to get well powdered before it is swallowed. This is the reason,
why professional exhibitors (human ostriches) do not come by any harm
by swallowing glass. Some years ago, the author saw in Bombay a gentle-
man and his wife both eating chimney glass without any ill-effects.
"When swallowed, diamond or diamond powder may produce injurious effects owing
to the mechanical action of its sharp prominent angles and edges. However, owing to a
false popular belief that it is highly poisonous, diamond powder is sometimes taken
suicidally or administered homicidally. In his annual report for the year 1935, the
Chemical Examiner, Madras, mentions the case of a man, who swallowed one morning
8 powdered diamonds (size not known) with a view to committing suicide. An hour
later he complained of pain in the stomach and was attended to by a doctor. His
stomach was washed out, and was given butter and boiled rice. The stomach wash was
found to contain minute transparent particles of diamond under the microscope. He also
quotes another case in his annual report for the year 1949, where a woman removed one
of the diamonds from her ear ring, powdered and swallowed it after locking herself in
a room. She recovered under treatment.
In a Hyderabad poisoning case it was alleged that diamond powder was administered
in pansupari, but it had no effect^ In the famous Baroda case white arsenic and a vety
fine powder of diamond were mixed in a sherbet drink.
These have been swallowed for suicidal purposes, and are known to have caused
death. Rarely, needles mixed with food may be used for homicidal purposes. A case1(>
of attempted murder by making a man swallow plantains in which a number of sewing
needles had been hidden was registered in the police-station of Gudiatham under section
307, I.P.C., against one Balu Iyer and another person. One Srinivasa Rao, an ex^-
employee of a hotel in Gudiatham, revealed in his statement to the police that in fulfil-
ment of a wager entered into between him and the son of his former employer, he was
made to swallow four plantains, one by one. As he was swallowing the fourth plantain,
a needle pricked his throat and only then he realized that a trick had been played on
him. He immediately rushed to Madras and sought admission into the general hospital.
Here twenty-three needles came out as a result of his vomit, and an x-ray examination
of the man showed that there were still about twelve needles in his intestines, giving
him excruciating pain.
CHOPPED ANIMAL HAIRS
These are supposed to be poisonous, and have been given to cattle with the idea
of destroying them, but it should not be forgotten that sometimes round boluses of hairs
are found in the stomach and intestines of animals dead from natural causes.
Finely chopped human hair is recognized as a slow poison and given in curry or
other soft food in Singapore.
In his annual report for the year 1932, the Chemical Examiner of Bengal reports a
case where chopped hair mixed with dry plantain leaves and dust was given to a woman
for administration of the same to her husband with food " to correct his temper and to
make him love her "„ A case u is also recorded where a tuft of chopped hair and small
fragments of human nails were administered in rice and vegetables to a Mahomedan
male by his wife probably as love->philters.
Chopped human hair mixed with lime, earth or powdered bone is used as a cattle
poison, particularly in the districts of Gaya and Hazaribagh in Bihar and in the district
of Mymensingh in Bengal.12
Fine, short hairs derived from the leaves and stalks of certain plants are called
stinging hairs, and act as mechanical irritants when they come into direct contact with
the skin. These hairs taper towards their apices and terminate in small bulbs, which
9. Times of India, Dec. 21, 1935.
10. Times of India, June 20, 1950, p. 3.
11. Beng. Chem, Exam. Ann. Rep., 1936, p. 11.
12. Beng. Chem. Exam. Ann. Rep., 1937, p. 16.