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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ACONITUM  NAPELLUS                                                 725

icid. Maintain the recumbent posture, administer amyl nitrite by inhala-
tion or atropine and diffusible stimulants, such as digitalis, strychnine and
Bther hypodermically. Keep up the body heat by hot water bottles, friction
and covering the patient with blankets. Oxygen and artificial respiration
may be resorted to, if necessary.

Hypertonic saline may be administered intravenously to combat collapse.
A woman swallowed about one ounce of A.B.C. liniment, and suffered from
symptoms of acute poisoning. She soon got into a collapsed condition but
recovered after the intravenous injection of 3 pints of hypertonic saline.35

Post-mortem Appearances.—Not characteristic. Fragments of the root
may be found in the stomach contents. The mucous membrane of the stomach
and small intestine may be congested and inflamed. There is usually marked
general venous congestion with dark fluid blood.

Chemical Analysis.—Aconitine is extracted from an organic material by
digesting it with dilute alcohol made slightly acid with tartaric acid, at first
at room temperature and later at about 60°C. The fat present is separated
by keeping the alcoholic filtrates in the ice-box. The fat is then removed
and the filtrate is evaporated at room temperature under a vacuum. The
solution is rendered alkaline by adding sodium bicarbonate, and ether and
chloroform are used as solvents for the final extraction.

Tests.—1. A few drops of a 5 per cent solution of auric chloride, added
to the extracted residue dissolved in 2 or 3 drops of dilute hydrochloric acid,
produce an amorphous precipitate, which shows golden, yellow needles or
rectangular prisms, if crystallized from alcohol.

2.    Alvarez's Reaction.—Five to ten drops of pure bromine are added to
a small portion of the purified residue in a porcelain dish and evaporated on
a water bath.    One to two cubic centimetres of concentrated nitric acid are
added, and the mixture is evaporated to dryness.   A few drops of bromine
are again added, if the solution loses its colour.    One cubic centimetre of a
saturated alcoholic solution of sodium hydroxide is added, and the mixture
is evaporated to dryness.   A red or brown residue is obtained, which is
allowed to cool   Five or six drops of a 10 per cent solution of copper sul-
phate are added to it, when a green colour develops.

3.    Palefs Reaction.—A few drops of a mixture of 25 g. of syrupy phos-
phoric acid (85 per cent) and 1 g. of sodium molybdate are added to a small
portion of the purified residue in a porcelain dish and heated over a flame.
A violet colour develops.

4.    Physiological Test.—Tingling and numbness of the tongue and lips
lasting for several hours are produced, if a small drop of a solution obtained
by dissolving a fragment of the residue in very dilute hydrochloric acid is
placed on the tongue or the smallest fragment of aconite root is chewed
between the front teeth.

A few drops of this solution injected under the skin of a frog or mouse
will produce the toxic effects and will cause the death of the animal, usually
within an hour.

Pseudaconitine gives a positive reaction with Vitali's test, and melts at
211°C., while aconitme does not give this test, and melts at 198°C.

The chemical tests mentioned above are positive only if pure aconitine
is available, but in actual practice it is hardly possible to obtain the pure
alkaloid; hence the physiological test has to be relied upon for its identi-

35.   Talukdar, Ind. Med. Gaz., Nov. 1935, p. 628.