Poisonous Plant Ten: Investigation

Nevertheless, we tried to make a conditionally average rating based on the average lethal dose (DL50) for laboratory mice. For simplicity, the rating also includes "mushroom" poisons. The result was a "Top 10" of poisons growing on the ground, from the point of view of a toxicologist, which may differ from the point of view of a botanist or a specialist in mushrooms.


Atropine (221.5 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C17H23N03

Source : belladonna (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), dope (Datura stramonium).

Most often, poisoning occurs after eating belladonna, bleached or dope berries.

Mechanism : atropine blocks M-cholinergic receptors in the body. Symptoms of poisoning develop almost immediately. Atropine causes psychomotor agitation, hallucinations, delirium. It is from here, from this clinical picture, that the proverb “Belens overeaten” grew up. In addition, there is tachycardia, headache, dizziness, intestinal “stop”. Characteristic features are dilated pupils (mydriasis) and severe dry mouth (xerostomia). Cause of death: paralysis of the respiratory center, usually a fatal outcome catches up with the poisoned on the first day.

Antidote : There is no specific antidote. The treatment is symptomatic.


Cicutoxin (50 mg / kg) // Alcohol, C17H22O2

Source : Voex poisonous (cicuta, Cicuta virosa).

Poisonous rhizome of the plant, including dried. Cicuta is often confused with spotted hemlock, which is used as a “folk” therapeutic agent, although it is also poisonous.

Mechanism : central venom, neurotoxin, is an antagonist of one of the most important neurotransmitters - gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Symptoms of poisoning develop after 5-10 minutes. First, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, general weakness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, pallor of the skin appear. Later, convulsions are added, which remain leading in the clinical picture. Death can occur against the background of ongoing cramps due to suffocation.

Antidote : There is no specific antidote. Symptomatic treatment aimed primarily at stopping seizures

The line is ordinary

Gyromitrin (10 mg / kg) // Hydrazine derivative, C4H8N2O

Source : line mushrooms, the most common line is ordinary (Gugmitra esculenta).

Poisoning occurs when improper cooking. The critical "dose" is 0.2−1 kg.

Mechanism : a classic example of “lethal synthesis”, when a toxic substance entering the body under the action of enzymes turns into an even more powerful poison. Symptoms depend on the dose and individual characteristics of a particular person. With mild poisoning, the matter will cost dizziness, nausea and headache. In severe cases, damage to the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, especially the liver, develops. The so-called cerebral vomiting, which is not associated with food intake and does not bring relief, is characteristic. Death can occur from acute liver failure.

Antidote : A specific antidote is pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which is administered intravenously

Death cap

Alpha-amanitine (1 mg / kg) // Protein, C39H54N10O14S

Source : Pale Grebe (Amanita phalloides).

Blocks the transcription of DNA into mRNA.

Mechanism : protein synthesis stops in the cell and it is destroyed. Symptoms: diarrhea and convulsions occur after 10-24 hours and pass quickly, but at this time, kidney and liver failure develops, reaching a maximum by the 7-10th day, when it is no longer possible to help and death occurs.

Antidote : Penicillin-type antibiotics can be an antidote.

Castor oil

Ricin (0.3 mg / kg) // Protein

Source : castor oil plant (Ricinus communis).

You can be poisoned by eating too many castor beans.

Mechanism : the effect of ricin aerosol is comparable to sarin, but it did not become a “chemical weapon” due to instability in water and light. Symptoms: the first (after 15−72 hours) - hemorrhages in the retina. Then nausea and vomiting, severe pain in the abdomen, cramps. Death occurs in 6-8 days.

Antidote : the antidote does not exist, treatment comes down to alleviating suffering.


Aconitine (0.25 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C34H47NO11

Source : plants of the genus wrestler, it is aconite (AconTtum).

More than 25 species of plants are poisonous.

Mechanism : Aconitine paralyzes the endings of the sensory nerves. Symptoms: itching begins almost immediately, the rhythm of respiration changes, the temperature decreases, profuse sweat and pain in the heart area appear. Convulsions are later added, paralysis develops. Death comes from suffocation.

Antidote : There is no specific antidote. The treatment is symptomatic.

Red fly agaric

Muscarine (0.2 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C9H20NO2 +

Source : Amanita muscaria (Amanita muscaria).

Poisoning develops when eaten (for example, for a “change of consciousness”).

Mechanism : excites M-cholinergic receptors. Symptoms: salivation, increased sweating, decreased heart rate, constricted pupils and decreased blood pressure, coma. In severe poisoning, pulmonary edema may develop. Death can occur as a logical continuation of a coma.

Antidote : Atropine injection.


Strychnine (0.12 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C21H22N2O2

Source : Chilibuha (Strychnos nux-vomica).

Poisoning is rare - bitter strychnine usually causes a gag reflex.

Mechanism : blocks the action of inhibitory neurotransmitters such as glycine. Symptoms: drawing pains in all muscles of the body, developing into painful cramps. Strychnine so intensifies reflexes that convulsions can occur in response to the slightest irritant. Death comes from suffocation.

Antidote : Curare-like remedies may work as an antidote.


Veratrine (0.003 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C32H49O9N

Source : in hellebore white (Veratrum album L.) and black (Veratrum nigrum L.).

Veratrine acts as a neurotoxin.

Mechanism : opens sodium channels in cell membranes. Symptoms: dizziness, irregular heartbeat, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea. Then the body temperature drops, breathing is difficult, convulsions develop. Death can occur from cardiac arrest or paralysis of the respiratory center.

Antidote : There is no specific antidote. The treatment is symptomatic.

Hemlock spotted

Koniin (0.002 mg / kg) // Alkaloid, C8H17N

Source : Spotted hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Accidental poisoning occurs when eating the rhizome of a plant, which is confused with horseradish, and children can be confused with white carrots. Less commonly, when using leaves that are confused with parsley. It is believed that the poison of this particular plant was executed in ancient Greece, and it was he who caused the death of Socrates.

Mechanism : Koniin blocks the N-cholinergic receptors of the postsynaptic membrane of the neuromuscular synapses. That is, it is an analogue of the world famous poison curare. Symptoms: The clinical picture develops rapidly and begins with profuse salivation and defocusing of vision. Nausea and vomiting may occur, but skeletal muscle paralysis gradually develops. It has an “ascending” character - it begins with the muscles of the foot and lower leg and gradually reaches the diaphragm. This makes breathing impossible. Consciousness usually persists to the last. Death occurs due to suffocation due to paralysis of the diaphragm.

Antidote : There is no specific antidote. Symptomatic treatment, including transferring a patient to mechanical ventilation (mechanical ventilation).

The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 3, March 2010).


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