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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

OIL   OF   TURPENTINE                                                  am


copoeial  preparation  is   Oleum  terebinthince   (Rectified  oil  of  turpentine) ,  the   d
which  is  3  to   10  minims.   It is   contained  in  the  official  preparation  of  Liui™^
terebinthince  (63 to 70%).                                                                                 ^^meutum

When purified by distillation with lime, oil of turpentine is known as


Sanitas is a watery solution of turpentine oxidized by exposure to the air.   Hv^ ^^
peroxide is its active principle.                                                                        gen

Symptoms. — A poisonous  dose  of  oil of turpentine  causes  a burning  pain 5     -"h
mouth,   throat   and   stomach,   thirst,   vomiting,   diarrhoea,   contracted   pupils,   g^-
drowsiness, cold skin, excitement, convulsions, coma and death.    Owing to its irrit t
action on the kidneys, the patient complains of pain in the loins, difficulty of micturit n
strangury  and passes scanty high-coloured  urine,  which  contains blood

and possesses a smell of violets.   When a large quantity is taken, the urme >~
completely suppressed.                                                                                               may

Applied to the skin, oil of turpentine produces redness and irritation, follOwec}

Inhalation of turpentine vapour produces irritation of the eyes, headache,
and  irritation  of  the  respiratory   passages   or   even  pneumonia.   It  sometimes
irritation of the kidneys.

Fatal  Dose. — Four  and  six   ounces   of  oil  of  turpentine  have  respectively  killed
adults.   A teaspoonful has  killed  an   infant,  five  months  old,   and half-an-oujnce  ha
proved fatal to a child, fourteen weeks old.   On the other hand, recoveries have occurred
in adults and in children from much larger doses.

Fatal Period. — Death may take place in from a few minutes to twelve or fifteen

Treatment. — Give emetics or wash out the stomach. Administer demulcents and
magnesium sulphate if diarrhoea has not occurred. Keep up the warmth of the bodv
Apply hot fomentations to the loins. Give morphine, J grain, hypodermically to relieve

Post-mortem Appearances. — The stomach usually shows hsemorrhagic spots some-
times with erosions of its mucous membrane. The stomach contents may smell stronfilv
of turpentine. The kidneys show degenerative changes. The lungs are acutely congested
The brain and its meninges are congested. In the case^ of an adult male, aged 39*
who died after drinking six ounces of spirit of turpentine, post-mortem examination
showed that the stomach contained four ounces of turpentine, and its raucous membrane
was completely macerated and lying in small pieces in the gastric cavity. The wall of
the stomach felt like leather due to the action of the turpentine.

Chemical Analysis. — This substance may be separated from organic mixtures bv
distillation and by extracting the distillate with ether, petroleum ether, chloroform or
benzol. It is recognized by its odour. With strong hydrochloric acid and ferric chloride
it gives a rose colour, which changes to violet-red and blue on standing, "With strong
sulphuric acid it produces a deep reddish-brown colour. When, mixed with a f &w crystals
of iodine, oil of turpentine explodes,

Medico-Legal Points. — Oil of turpentine is not an active poison. A few accidental
cases of poisoning have occurred from its medicinal use as an anthelmintic or from its
administration by mistake. It has been taken to procure abortion, but has "been, rarelv
used for homicidal purposes, while it has been swallowed with suicidal intent. & case ^7
is recorded in which a young man committed suicide by taking turpentine. About three
ounces of turpentine were recovered by distillation from the viscera usually preserved
for chemical analysis.

Toxic symptoms occurring from the continued inhalation of turpentine vapour are
occasionally observed in painters or in persons sleeping in a newly varnished room
Seamen who were engaged in painting in enclosed spaces on one of H.M. ships suffered
from turpentine poisoning by inhaling its vapour. The symptoms arose after one or
two days* work, seven men reporting sick within a week. They complained of scalding
pain at the end of micturition, and in some cases, of frequency ; the urine contained
blood and had an odour of violets. They all recovered after some time.28

Turpentine is eliminated by the lungs, and imparts its characteristic odour to the
breath. It is eliminated by the kidneys and appears in the urine in combination with
glycuronic acid. The urine acquires a smell of violets and reduces Fehling's solution
Turpentine is also excreted to some extent by the skin.


This is distilled from the fresh leaves of Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus dumosa
and other species of Eucalyptus, N.O. Myrtacese. It is a colourless or pale yellp-y^ volatile

26.   Maitland, Brit. Med, Jour., July 11, 1931, p. 77.

27.   Madras Chena. Examiner's Annual Rep., 1939, p. 3.

28.   H. Wilks, Jour, Royal Nav. Ked. Service, Jan. 1930, p. 53; Lancet, Feb. 8   1930
p. 307.                                                                                                                          .'