704 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
3 Physiological Test.—If an aqueous solution of the residue is injected
into the dorsal lymph sac of a frog, tetanic convulsions will occur in a few
minutes After the convulsions have once occurred, they may be subse^
quently provoked by stimulating the frog, as by gently touching it with
cotton wool or by tapping the table on which it is lying.
Tests for Brucine.—1. If a drop of strong nitric acid is added to the dry
chloroform residue, a blood red colour develops, which changes to reddish-
yellow and finally to pure yellow. If the solution is then treated with a
few drops of freshly prepared stannous chloride solution, an intense purple
colour is formed which is destroyed by the addition of a drop of strong nitric
2. Blytk's Test.—Added to an alcoholic solution of brucine, methyl
iodide produces, in a few minutes, circular, rosette-shaped crystals composed
of methyl brucine iodide. Strychnine does not respond to this test, nor does
it interfere with the test, if present along with brucine.
Medico-Legal Points.—Strychnine is one of the most deadly poisons.
Accidental poisoning has resulted from an overdose or from it having been
dispensed in medicine in mistake for some other harmless drug, such as
quinine, saHcin, jalapin, caffeine, etc. In 1919, a case occurred at John's
Mills in Agra, where strychnine was accidentally dispensed instead of
quinine with the result that seven persons died within an hour. The dose^
taken was probably ten grains. Of those who took the doses one is said"
to have had vomiting and blistering on the lips and to have recovered.0
A similar case7 occurred in Hoshiarpur District, where a medical practi-
tioner gave some tablets supposed to be of quinine to a family- The head
of the family took four tablets, and distributed three tablets each to four
members of his family. They all became ill and suffered from convulsions.
The head of the family died and the other members fortunately recovered.
The viscera of the deceased revealed the presence of strychnine on analysis.
The remaining tablets were examined and found to be of pure strychnine.
A case8 is also recorded where a man died of strychnine poisoning. It was
administered to him with jaggery as a quack antidote to ringworm.
Poisonous symptoms have also occurred accidentally from incompatible
prescriptions containing potassium iodide or liquor arsenicalis and strychnine,
when the latter precipitates to the bottom of the mixture and is taken with
the last dose. A lady, 36 years old, consulted her medical attendant, who
prescribed a mixture of J ounce of liquor arsenicalis and i ounce of liquor
strychninse hydrochloridi, six drops to be taken three times a day. One
morning three weeks later she did not feel well, and thought a dose of the
medicine would do her good. She had, however, finished the contents of
the bottle, but noticing a little whitish deposit at its bottom added some
water and drank off the contents. About an hour afterwards she suffered
from strychnine poisoning, and died in two hours and twenty minutes after
taking the medicine.9
Suicidal cases are occasionally met with in England, but owing to the
ignorance of the people about strychnine suicidal poisoning is rare in India,
though a few cases have lately been reported. In his annual report for the
year 1923, the Chemical Examiner of Bengal describes a case in which an
Anglo-Indian lady took a teaspoonful of strychnine at 5 a,n%, with intent to
commit suicide owing to a quarrel with her husband. She had convulsions
6* £**• chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1919.
o Tf^J^Clxemical ExaBafo«rls Annual Report, 1928, p. 10.
n V£i ykenucal Examiner's Annual Report, 1930, p. 5.
9. Littiejohn, Transactions of the Medico-Legal Society, Vol. XIX, 1925, p 12