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Chapter: Modern Medical Toxicology: Neurotoxic Poisons: Spinal and Peripheral Neurotoxic Agents

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Water Hemlock(Cicuta maculata.) - Spinal and Peripheral Neurotoxic Agents

Water Hemlock(Cicuta maculata.) - Spinal and Peripheral Neurotoxic Agents
Like poison hemlock, this plant also belongs to family Umbelliferae, and is a weed that grows along the banks of lakes, streams, and marshes.

WATER HEMLOCK

Botanical Name

Cicuta maculata.

Physical Appearance

■■   Like poison hemlock, this plant also belongs to family Umbelliferae, and is a weed that grows along the banks of lakes, streams, and marshes (Fig 21.7).


■■   It is characterised by its thick, hollow, tuberous roots, but is often mistaken for several wild edible plants such as Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s lace).

Toxic Part

All parts, particularly the root.

Toxic Principle

Cicutoxin, which is among the most potent biotoxins. It causes over-stimulation of central cholinergic pathways.

Clinical Features

·      Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain.

·      Powerful convulsions often leading to lethal status epilepticus

Treatment

·              Gastric decontamination: stomach wash, activated char-coal.

·      Diazepam or barbiturates for convulsions. Refractory cases may necessitate administration of general anaesthesia.

·      Haemodialysis may be helpful.

·      Aggressive supportive measures.

Forensic Issues

·              Most cases of poisoning result from mistaken identity with edible plants (vide supra)..


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