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708                                             MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

terminations of the vagus in the heart and thus causes slowing of the heart beat, It
depresses the motor centres in the cord and then in the brain. It causes death by failure
of the respiratory centre. It is excreted in the urine, and has been found m the saliva
and bile.

Calabarine acts as a stimulant to the cord, and produces convulsions just like


This is a plant belonging to N.O. Loganiaceae, and grows in North America. Its
root is a B.P.C. preparation and yields active principles, viz. gelsemine, gelseminine and
gelsemic acid.

Gelsemine.— This is a white, very bitter, inodorous, crystalline alkaloidal substance
sparingly soluble in water, but freely in alcohol and ether. With acids it forms crystal-
line salts. Gelsemine hydrochloride is a non-official preparation, the dose being 1/60
to 1/20 grain.

Gelseminine.— This is a highly poisonous alkaloid occurring as a yellowish-brown,
amorphous powder, which is a mixture of alkaloids. It is slightly soluble in water, but
freely soluble in alcohol and ether. Its salts are freely soluble in water. Gelsemine
hydrochloride is a non-official preparation, the dose being 1/60 to 1/20 grain,

Gelsemic Acid. — This is a colourless, tasteless, odourless, crystalline substance. It
is slightly soluble in cold water, more in hot water and freely in ether and chloroform.
It forms salts, but with few metals.

Symptoms.— Nausea, frontal headache, giddiness, ptosis, strabismus, diplppia, dila-
tation of the pupils, great muscular weakness, inco -ordination, paralysis, difficulty of
articulation and swallowing due to paralysis of the mouth and throat, depression of the
temperature, pulse and respirations, and general prostration. Death occurs from res-
piratory failure, the mind remaining clear. Sometimes, clonic convulsions may be seen.

Fatal Dose. — Twelve minims of the fluid extract of gelsemium have caused the
death of a child, and three drachms of the same preparation (equivalent to 1/6 grain of
gelsemine) have proved fatal to an adult woman.

Fatal Period. — The usual fatal period is about three hours. The shortest is one
hour, and the longest is seven hours and-a-half.

Treatment.— Emetics or thorough washing out of the stomach. Hypodermic injec-
tions of digitalis and atropine. Digitalis will strengthen the 'heart, and atropine the
respiration. Hot applications to the epigastrium and extremities. Oxygen inhalation
and artificial respiration, if necessary.

Post-mortem Appearances. — No characteristic appearances. There may be conges-
tion of some of the organs.

Chemical Analysis.— To extract the alkaloids of gelsemium the organic matter is
rendered slightly alkaline and shaken out with ether or chloroform.

Tests for Gelsemium Alkaloids.— 1. A drop or two of strong sulphuric acid added
to a small portion of the extracted residue of the alkaloids of gelsemium produces a
yellowish or brown colour. A solid particle of potassium dichromate or manganese
dioxide drawn through the solution with a glass rod produces a reddish-purple colour,
which changes to bluish-green.

2. physiological Test.— Administered to frogs, cats or rabbits, the alkaloids cause
prostration, convulsions, dilated pupils and asphyxia.

Test for Gplsemic Acid.— A drop of ammonia added to a drop of gelsemic acid dis-
solved in sulphuric acid produces a copious deposit of crystalline needles.

Medico-Legal Points.— Poisoning by gelsemium is generally accidental from thera-
P^to overdoses. During toe investigation of the Clark-Fulham murder case in Agra
in 1912, it was suspected that Clark had administered gelsemine to Fulhanx with criminal

4t,                     paralyses the spinal cord and respiratory centre, but has no action on

the neart and brain.   Sometimes it causes tetanic spasms.
Gelsemine is eliminated in the urine.

!? aAcreePe* which contains an alkaloid, gelsemine.   It is
m ^^ as a poisi°n for °rirrnnal Purposes, usually for
It produces acute pain in the abdomen, vomiting purging and giddi-

°f °n^of the root of ^ creeP*r meant fc? eltemal use and
examination showed that the internal walk of

£'   l?ngt °Yem- ^aminer's Annual -Rep., 1936, p. 18,
1941," p 26™'            AUg* 23' 1941j P' 71; Medic°-'Le^l *nd Criminologicti Rev,, Oct