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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

STRYCHNOS  NUX  VOMICA                                            705

for the first time at 6-30 a.m., and soon died. The Chemical Examiner of
Bengal10 reports the case of a Hindu male, 22 years old, who committed
suicide by taking strychnine. He was picked up from the Eden Gardens
and removed to the Medical College Hospital, Calcutta. He seemed to be
conscious, but could not speak and died within fifteen minutes. This case
is interesting from the fact that there was no history of spasms or convulsions.
A case n is also recorded in which a European committed suicide by taking
strychnine hydrochloride mixed in a glass containing whisky. Eighteen
grains of strychnine hydrochloride were isolated from the glass. Strychnine
was also detected in the viscera of the deceased.

Homicidal cases by the administration of strychnine are reported to have
occurred in England and other western countries. Of these the most famous
are those of William Palmer, a medical practitioner, who was convicted at
the Central Criminal Court at London in 1856 of having murdered John
Parsons Cook at Rugeley in Staffordshire by administering two pills con-
taining strychnine and of Thomas Neill, or Neill Cream, who was convicted
in the same Court on October 21, 1892, of the murder of four women and the
attempted murder of a fifth woman by giving strychnine.

Homicidal poisoning by strychnine is rare in India. A case occurred in
Seoni, in which a man suffered from the effects of poisoning as a result of
taking betels offered to him at a singing party by two persons with whom he
was not on good terms. Strychnine was detected in the washings of the
stomach, as well as in the scrapings of the soil in which the man had spat.12
A case 13 is recorded in which one Singhe administered strychnine in a cup
of wine to one Ararat who died in about 3 hours. A case14 is also reported
in which the adopted son of a Hyderabad millionaire was killed by the admi-
nistration of pills containing stiychnine. In his annual report for the year
1948, the Chemical Examiner of Uttar Pradesh (United Provinces) mentions
a case in which a person in Moradabad District was given some wine mixed
with strychnine, but he threw it out of his mouth suspecting it to be soap
water. Some of the wine remained in the cup, and was drunk by his son,
who died within half an hour. Approximately 60 grains of strychnine were
detected in the portions of the viscera of the deceased and in the vomited

Nux vomica seeds are sometimes used for suicidal and homicidal pur-
poses and for destroying cattle. In his annual report for the year 1927, the
Chemical Analyser of Bombay cites a case in which three brothers in
Malwan, District Ratnagiri, boiled nux vomica seeds in milk, and took that
with a view to committing suicide. Two died and one recovered. Frag-
ments of nux vomica seeds were found in the stomachs of both the deceased,
and strychnine and brucine were detected on analysis of the viscera. In his
annual report for the year 1929, the Chemical Examiner of Madras mentions
a case of suicide in which a decoction of nux vomica leaves was taken.

In his annual report for the year 1950, the Chemical Examiner of Bengal
State mentions a homicidal case, in which nux vomica seeds mixed with food
were administered to a boy, aged 6 years, and two others. Soon after taking
the food they started vomiting and suffered from convulsions. The boy died
in about 6 hours, while the other two survived. Strychnine and brucine
were detected in the portions of the viscera of the deceased.

10.   Annual Report, 1929, p. 11.

11.    Bombay Chem. Analyser's Annual Report, 1931, p. 4.

12.   UJP. Chem, Examiner's Annual Rep., 1923.

13.   K. E. v. Singhe, All High Court Appeal No. 733 of 1932.

14.    Times of India, Dec. 14, 1935.                                                 -     ,      !  '  '         •       ,