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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

CERBERA THEVETIA                                                     721

stomach, which on analysis were found to be those of yellow oleander. The
duodenum to the extent of four inches was brick-red in colour, and had an
irregular purple patch in the centre. The liver was congested.32

Chemical Analysis.—Cerberin is easily destroyed by hydrolysis with
dilute hydrochloric acid and by the gastro-intestinal secretions; hence it is
rarely detected in the viscera usually preserved for chemical analysis.
Thevetin is resistant to a large extent to such destruction, and is, therefore,
the only glycoside available for extraction and identification in cases of
poisoning by yellow oleander. Thevetin is contained in the acid ether
extract obtained by submitting the visceral matter to the Stas-Otto process
and may be recognized by the following tests : —

1.    If the extract is treated with concentrated sulphuric acid or syrupy
phosphoric acid followed by heating on a boiling water bath for five to ten
minutes, a yellowish-brown colour is formed, which slowly changes to a
bright pink colour.

2.    Keller's Test.—The  ether extract is  dissolved in  1 cc.  of glacial
acetic acid containing 5 per cent ferric sulphate, and this solution is allowed
to float on the surface of a mixture of concentrated sulphuric acid (100 parts)
and 5 per cent ferric sulphate (1 part).   An immediate blue colour appears
in the acetic acid layer, and a slow mauve colour in the sulphuric acid layer.

3.    The ether extract, when rubbed on the tip of the tongue, produces
a tingling sensation and rawness lasting for an hour or more.   The sensation
is restricted to the area of application, and does not extend to the other parts
of the tongue or to the lips as happens in the case of aconite.

4.    The dry extract dissolved in about 1 cc. of water and injected into
the dorsal lymph sac of a frog produces convulsions in a few minutes fol-
lowed by paralysis and death.

The portions of yellow oleander, such as particles of the pericarps or
kernels of the seeds, root-bark or leaves, boiled with dilute hydrochloric
acid, impart a blue colour to the mixture. If an alcoholic extract of the
seeds is warmed with dilute hydrochloric acid, a deep bluish-green colour
is produced. The colour disappears on adding a solution of potassium

Medico-Legal Points.—The root and the seeds are often used for procur-
ing criminal abortion, and occasionally for suicidal and homicidal purposes.
In his annual report for the year 1927, the Chemical Analyser of Bombay
reports a case in which the powdered seeds were given to a woman to be
administered to her husband as a love philter, as a result of which he would
become a mere puppet in her hands. The seeds are also commonly used for
poisoning cattle, especially in the States of Bombay and Madras. For this
purpose the seeds are powdered and are administered to an animal in the
form of a paste concealed either in an ear of corn or inside a chapati.

In his annual report for the year 1938, the Chemical Examiner, Madras,
mentions that accidental poisoning occurs in children by eating the flowers.

Illustrative Cases.—1. Abortion.—A young Hindu widow rubbed two seeds of yellow
oleander with treacle in a mortar and swallowed them to procure abortion. She suffered
from poisonous symptoms, gave birth to a healthy male child on the fourth day and ulti-
mately recovered,—JacLub Kristo Sen, Ind. Med. Gaz., Nov. 1901, pp. 412-413.

2, Suicide,—(a) A Hindu male, aged 22 years, took 8 seeds of yellow oleander
(Kcmer) squashed up with one pice worth of vermilion to end his miserable life. After
three hours he vomited once, and then was in a stuporous condition, and could not raise
or hold up his head. The arms and legs were flaccid, and saliva and ropy mucus were
flowing from the angles of the mouth. At intervals he tossed his head from side to side
and threw up his arms and legs. The pulse was feeble, slow, and 36 per minute with

32.   Daley, Ind. Med. Get;*., August 1903, p. 296.