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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

DATURA  FASTUOSA                                                      675

Fatal Dose.—Uncertain. Four datura fruits pounded and mixed with
flour were given to six men, four of whom died.3 A ripe fruit weighs, on
an average, about 2 drachms, and contains the seeds which weigh about 1-|
drachms. One hundred dried datura seeds weigh 20 to 20| grains. A
decoction of 125 seeds of datura stramonium has proved fatal to a woman.

Fatal Period.—In a majority of fatal cases death usually occurs within
twenty-four hours. A boy died in three or four hours after drinking a large
quantity of datura mixed in. s/iarbat.4 A man, 22 years old, died in four or
five hours after datura seeds had been administered to him in sweets, known
as Peras.5

Treatment.—Emetics should be given or the stomach should be washed
out with a weak solution of potassium permanganate or a solution of tanmq
acid. (20 grains in 4 ounces of water). Prostigmin, a synthetic preparation
alGed to physostigmine, which is safer and more powerful, should be adminis-
tered hypodermically in doses of 0.5 milligrammes. In many cases one dose
is sufficient to counteract almost all the effects of datura.

Pilocarpine nitrate in doses of 1/10 to 1/4 grain hypodermically is recom-
mended as an antidote, but it is doubtful whether it can antagonize the
action of datura on the brain. Mo£E>hine in J-grain doses hypodermically
is also regarded as a physiological^anti3ote, but it should be administered!
with caution, as it has a depressant action on the respiratory centre, ^
SpjpQsifLcs, such as bromides and short-acting barbiturates, may be given to
control the delirium, but the administration of chlopoform or ether by
inhalation is considered more beneficial. Chloral hydrate or paraldehyde
in moderate doses is also useful for marked excitement. Cold affusions may
be applied to the head. Stimulants, such as caffeine, should be given and
artificial respiration and oxygen inhalations should be started when neces-
sary. A large hotjenema may be given with .advantage to the patient, for
it acts as a stimulant and by flushing the body helps the elimination of the
absorbed poison,

Post-mortem Appearances.—Datura seeds or their fragments may be
found in the stomach and intestines. It is, therefore, necessary to make a
careful search for them in the vomited matter, stomach contents and faeces.
The oesophagus, stomach, duodenum and other internal organs are mostly
congested. In rare cases the mucous membrane of the stomach may be
found slightly inflamed.

Detection.—The seeds of Datura Fastuosa are often mistaken for those
of Capsicum. The seeds of "Datura Fastuosa are very hard, flattened,
kidney-shaped, and 1/6 inch broad and 1/25 inch thick. They are bitter in
taste and h$v$ a doublexridged convex border. The testa is dark or
yellowish-brown in colour, is finely pitted and reticulated. On longitudinal
section the $ee$s show tlie embryo curving outwards at the hilum.

The seeds of Datw& Stramonium are black or nearly so but otherwise
similar to those of Da^^a Fasfaosa,

The seeds of CapsleuAl are thin, smooth, roundish, the convex border
being single and sharper. They have a sharp, pungent taste. The testa is
of a pale yellow colour. On section the seeds show the embryo curved
inwards.

3.   1C. E. v. Sumeran Das, Gorakhpur District, Appeal No. 572 of 1921, Allahabad High
Court,

4.   Lahore High Court, Criminal Appeal No. 828 of 1929: 31 Criminal La,w Jour.,
1930, p. 140.

5.   Allahabad High Court, Criminal Appeal No. 870 of 1930.