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Chapter: Modern Medical Toxicology: Organic Poisons (Toxins): Plants of Special Importance

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Eucalyptus - Organic Poisons (Toxins)

Eucalyptus - Organic Poisons (Toxins)
Other Common Names · Blue gum tree. Botanical Name · Ececalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus

Other Common Names

·              Blue gum tree.

Botanical Name

·              Ececalyptus globulus

Physical Appearance

·      Eucalyptus globulus is a tree that grows well in the Nilgirisarea in South India.

·     The bark of the tree is smooth, and leaves are long and curved.

·     Eucalyptus oil is obtained from the leaves and young shoots.

o     The oil is volatile, pale yellow or clear, with a distinc-tive fragrant odour and pungent, cooling taste.

o     It contains about 38 to 65% of eucalyptol (cineole), a monoterpenoid substance, as well as alpha pinene, phellandrene eudesmol, and other terpenes.


Uses

·              The oil is used in folk medicine for a variety of ailments (particularly those related to respiratory tract).

Clinical Features

·      Burning of mouth, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea.

·      Bronchospasm, bronchorrhoea, tachypnoea, chemical pneumonitis, apnoea.

·      Vertigo, slurred speech, delirium, ataxia, headache, drowsi-ness, coma. Sometimes convulsions occur. Pupils are often constricted. Mydriasis is encountered less commonly.

·      Tachycardia, hypotension.

·      There is odour of eucalyptus in the breath.

·      Aspiration of the oil results in chemical pneumonitis, with fever, dyspnoea, cyanosis, rales, and rhonchi.

·      Contact dermatitis and urticaria have been reported in sensi-tive persons after handling the foliage and other plant parts of Eucalyptus globulus.

Usual Fatal Dose

·              About 4 to 5 ml.

·              However, survival has been reported with 20 to 30 ml in children, and 120 to 240 ml in adults.

Treatment

·      Symptomatic and supportive measures.

·      Emesis is NOT recommended due to potential for aspiration, CNS depression, and seizures.

·      Activated charcoal is beneficial.

·              If the patient is coughing upon arrival at the hospital, aspi-ration may have already occurred. Monitor arterial blood gases in cases of severe aspiration pneumonitis to assure adequate ventilation. Obtain baseline chest x-ray and vital signs.

·      Mechanical ventilation may be required in cases of severe respiratory depression or aspiration.

·      Mannitol, peritoneal dialysis, and haemodialysis were successfully used in some cases of substantial ingestion.

 

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