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Vegetable Irritants

The chief vegetable purgatives are aloes, colocynth, gamboge, jalap,

scammony, seeds of castor-oil plant, croton-oil, elaterium, the

hellebores, and colchicum. All these have, either alone or combined,

proved fatal. The active principle in aloes is aloin; of jalap, jalapin;

of white hellebore, veratria; and of colchicum, colchicin. Morrison's

pills contain aloes and colocynth; aloes is also the chief ingredient in

way's pills.

Symptoms.--Vomiting, purging, tenesmus, etc., followed by cold sweats,

collapse, or convulsions.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Inflammation of alimentary canal;

ulceration, softening, and submucous effusion of dark blood.

Treatment.--Diluents, opium, stimulants, abdominal fomentations, etc.

Certain of these irritant poisons exert a marked influence on the

central nervous system, as the following:

=Laburnum= (Cytisis Laburnum).--All parts of the plant are poisonous;

the seeds, which are contained in pods, are often eaten by children.

Contains the alkaloid cytisine, which is also contained in arnica. It

has a bitter taste, and is powerfully toxic. Symptoms are purging,

vomiting, restlessness, followed by drowsiness, insensibility, and

convulsive twitchings. Death due to respiratory paralysis. Most of the

cases are in children. Treatment consists of stomach-pump or emetics,

stimulants freely, artificial respiration, warmth and friction to the

surface of the body.

=Yew= (Taxus baccata) contains the alkaloid taxine. The symptoms are

convulsions, insensibility, coma, dilated pupils, pallor, laboured

breathing, collapse. Death may occur suddenly. Treatment as above.

Post-mortem appearances not characteristic, but fragments of leaves or

berries may be found in the stomach and intestines.

=Arum= (Arum Maculatum).--This plant, commonly known as 'lords and

ladies,' is common in the woods, and the berries may be eaten by

children. It gives rise to symptoms of irritant poisoning, vomiting,

purging, dilated pupils, convulsions, followed by insensibility, coma,

and death.

Many plants have an intensely irritating action on the skin, and when

absorbed act as active poisons.

=Rhus toxicodendron= is the poison oak or poison ivy. Poisoning by this

plant is rare in England, though not uncommon in the United States. Mere

contact with the leaves or branches will in many people set up an acute

dermatitis, with much oedema and hyperæmia of the skin. The inflammation

spreads rapidly, and there is formation of blebs with much itching.

There is often great constitutional disturbance, nausea, vomiting,

diarrhoea, and pains in the abdomen. The effects may last a week, and

the skin may desquamate.

=Primula obconica= is another plant which, when handled, gives rise to

an acute dermatitis of an erysipelatous character. The face swells, and

large blisters form on the cheeks and chin.