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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

718                                               MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

a dog, weighing about 4.1 kilogrammes, kills it within an hour, the symp-
toms being progressive paralysis starting from hind limbs, defecation, retch-
ing, and froth at the mouth.

About one-eighth of a milligramme of strychnine is about the average
minimum fatal dose for a frog, weighing about 10 grammes; hence nerin
appears to be about six times as poisonous as strychnine to a frog.

Symptoms.—Difficulty of swallowing and articulation, abdominal pain,
vomiting, profuse frothy salivation and diarrhoea. The pulse is first slowed
and later becomes rapid and weak. The respirations are hurried from the
beginning. These are followed by dilated pupils, muscular twitchings,
tetanic spasms, drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma and death. Lock-jaw is
frequently present, while diarrhoea is occasionally absent.

Fatal Dose.—Uncertain. More than a quarter of a tola (1 tola = 180
grains) of the fresh root bark have produced poisonous symptoms. Two
hundred and fifty grains (about half an ounce) of the root may be con-
sidered to be an average fatal dose for an adult.22

Fatal Period.—Uncertain. Death may take place in about twenty-four
to thirty-six hours. A Hindu female, aged 20 years, who took oleander root
as an abordfacient, died in two or three hours.2a

Treatment.—Evacuation by washing out the stomach. Give stimulants,
such as ether, and treat the symptoms.

Post-mortem Appearances.—Not characteristic. There may be con-
gested patches in the stomach and upper portion of the small intestine.

Tests.—When dissolved in concentrated sulphuric acid, a minute frag-
ment of the acid ether extract of the root bark or leaves of Neriurn odorum
obtained by the Stas-Otto process produces an immediate crimson colour
which assumes a deeper tint on standing. It also gives Keller's test—a slow
green colour appearing in the acetic acid layer and an immediate crimson
colour in the sulphuric acid layer. Both the colours are stable for several
days. Keller's test is performed by dissolving the extract in 1 ca of glacial
acetic acid containing 5 per cent ferric sulphate and floating this solution on
the surface of a mixture of concentrated sulphuric acid (100 parts) and 5
per cent ferric sulphate (1 part).

This extract does not reduce Fehling's solution but, after hydrolysis
either with hydrochloric acid or with emulsin, it reduces Fehling's solution.

Medico-Legal Points.—The root is used internally by ignorant people as
a remedy for venereal diseases. Hence accidental poisoning, sometimes
with fatal consequences, have occurred from the administration of the root
or its decoction. Two Mahomedans drank each a cupful of a strong decoc-
tion of the root as an anodyne for pain in the loins. One of them died in
about 36 hours, and the other recovered after prolonged illness.24

In the form of a paste the root is used in the treatment of cancers and
ulceration. The decoction of the leaves is applied externally to reduce
swellings.

Criminally, the root is used as an abortifacient both as a local application
and as an internal administration. The root and the leaves are often used
as a paste or decoction for suicidal purposes, especially in Western and
Southern India. A case is recorded in which a man first took oleander and
then to hasten his death he hanged himself on the same tree of oleander.2*

22.    C. L. Bose, Indian Med. Gaz., Nov. 1901, p. 412.

23.   Bengal Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1929, p. 13.

24.   Kali Mohan Sen, Ind. Med. Gaz., April 1899, p. 118

25.   Bengal Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1923.