Over the next few weeks, I will be posting information - for writers - on Poison Plants. This is meant for research only. Kids, don't test these poisons at home! I mean it!
Found naturally in various plants e.g. cherries, plums, almonds, peaches, apricots, apples and cassava. (The fruit and nuts itself are not poisonous.)
The chemical is usually concentrated in the seeds, kernels or wilted leaves. Eating these parts of the plant that contain the chemical can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning.
Slow reacting poison unless in large quantities.
Symptoms: Headache - mild poisoning, Chest tightness - mild poisoning, Throat tightness - mild poisoning, Muscle weakness - mild poisoning, Neuropathy - chronic poisoning, Bluish skin, Bluish fingernails, Bluish lips, Droopy eyelids, Fever, Mental confusion, Liver damage, Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, Dizziness, Lethargy, Dilated pupils, Spasms, Irregular breathing, Excitement and depression, Chills, Sweating, Visual disturbance, Breathing difficulty, Weakness, Cyanosis, Seizures, Coma, Death
# Konzo - Konzo is an epidemic paralytic disease first described by G. Trolli in 1938, who discovered it amongst the Kwango of the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The outbreaks are associated with several weeks of almost exclusive consumption of insufficiently processed bitter cassava. The onset of paralysis (hypertonic paraparesis) is sudden and symmetrical and the resulting disability is permanent, but does not progress. The disease onset is associated to high dietary exposure from cyanide liberated from the naturally occurring glucosides that normally are removed by processing before consumption of cassava roots. "Konzo" means "bound legs" in the Yaka language and was the designation by the first affected population in Congo. The name, taken up by Hans Rosling, aptly describes the typical hypertonic gait of those afflicted.
Where is it found: natives of the mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere, growing in moisture retentive but well draining soils on mountain meadows
The poison: alkaloid pseudaconitine
How it's administered: Skin and oral ingestion
Fast acting or slow: Marked symptoms may appear almost immediately, usually not later than one hour, and "with large doses death is almost instantaneous." Death usually occurs within 2 to 6 hours in fatal poisoning (20 to 40 mL of tincture may prove fatal).
Symptoms: The initial signs are gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is followed by a sensation of burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. In severe poisonings pronounced motor weakness occurs and sensations of tingling and numbness spread to the limbs. Cardiovascular features include hypotension, bradycardia (slowed heart-rate), sinus tachycardia (rapid heart-rate), and ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal or irregular heart-rate). Other features may include sweating, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, headache, and confusion. The main causes of death are ventricular arrhythmias and asystole (flatline), paralysis of the heart or of the respiratory center.
What's noticed in post-mortem? The only post-mortem signs are those of asphyxia.
Treatment: Treatment of poisoning is mainly supportive. All patients require close monitoring of blood pressure and cardiac rhythm. Gastrointestinal decontamination with activated charcoal can be used if given within 1 hour of ingestion. The major physiological antidote is atropine, which is used to treat bradycardia. Other drugs used for ventricular arrhythmia include lidocaine, amiodarone, bretylium, flecainide, procainamide, and mexiletine. Cardiopulmonary bypass is used if symptoms are refractory to treatment with these drugs. Successful use of charcoal hemoperfusion has been claimed in patients with severe aconite poisoning.