Articles from Aids To Forensic Medicine And Toxicology
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Nux Vomica Strychnine And Brucine
=Nux Vomica= consists of the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica. From
these strychnine and brucine are obtained. The symptoms, post-mortem
appearances, and treatment, of poisoning by nux vomica are the same as
=Strychnine= is a powerful poison, and forms the active ingredient of
many 'vermin-killers.' It occurs as a white powder or as colourless
crystals, with a persistent bitter taste; very slightly soluble in
water; more or less soluble in benzol, ether, and alcohol.
Symptoms.--Sense of suffocation, twitchings of muscles, followed by
tetanic convulsions and opisthotonos, each lasting half to two minutes.
Mental faculties unaffected, face congested and anxious; eyes staring,
lips livid; much thirst. The period of accession of the symptoms varies
with the mode of administration of the poison. Symptoms, as a rule, come
on soon after food has been taken. Patient may die within a few hours
from asphyxia or from exhaustion.
In Tetanus there is usually history of a wound; the symptoms come on
slowly; lockjaw is an early symptom, and only later complete
convulsions; the intervals between the fits are never entirely free from
rigidity. Death is delayed for some days.
Post-Mortem Appearances.--Heart empty, blood fluid, rigor mortis
persistent. Hands usually clenched; feet arched and inverted. Congestion
of brain, spinal cord, and lungs.
Treatment.--Emetics or stomach-pump if the patient is deeply
anęsthetized. Tannic acid and permanganate of potassium. Bromide of
potassium 1/2 ounce with chloral 30 grains, repeated if necessary.
Fatal Dose (Smallest).--Quarter of a grain.
Fatal Period (Shortest).--Ten minutes; usually two to four hours.
Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--The alkaloid may be separated
by the process of Stas-Otto.
Tests.--Strychnine has a characteristic, very bitter taste; it imparts
this taste to even very dilute solutions; it is unaffected by sulphuric
acid, but gives a purple-blue colour, changing to crimson and light red,
when the edge of this solution is touched with dioxide of manganese,
potassium bichromate, ferricyanide of potassium, or permanganate of
potassium. This test is so delicate as to show the 1/25000 of a grain of
the alkaloid. A very minute quantity (1/5000 grain) in solution placed
on the skin of a frog after drying causes tetanic convulsions.
=Brucine.=--This alkaloid, found associated with strychnine, possesses
the same properties, though in a less powerful degree. Nitric acid gives
a blood-red colour, changed to purple with protochloride of tin.