Digitalis (Digitalis purpurea) – Static/Plant Poison | Liveveda

Digitalis

Introduction

Digitalis purpurea is a poisonous plant belonging to scrophulariaceae family. This plant is a native of Europe but now grows in many parts of the world including India.

Active principles

Active principles of this plant are glycosides like :

  1. Digitoxin
  2. Digoxin
  3. Digitalin
  4. Digitalein
  5. Digitonin

Signs and Symptoms

Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, Burning sensation, diarrhea, Bradycardia, Heart block, Fibrillation, Slow respiration, Drowsiness, Coma, Convulsions, Death.

Fatal dose

2 to 3 gm of digitalis

Fatal period

Half an hour to twenty four hours

Treatment

  1. Gastric lavage with a solution of tannic acid.
  2. Atropine 0.6 mg subcutaneously to combat bradycardia.
  3. Procainamide 100 mg I.V or Lignocaine 50 mg I.V for ventricular tachycardia under continuous E.C.G observation.
  4. Specific antidotes such as propranolol is injected I.V in the dose of 1 mg/min (max. 5 mg) to combat digitalis induced arrhythmia.
  5. The rest of the treatment is symptomatic.

Post-mortem appearances

  1. Nothing specific.
  2. There may be fragments of digitalis leaves or seeds in the stomach, which may be found congested and inflamed.

Medico-legal Importance

  1. Accidental poisoning may occur from an overdose of a medicinal preparation or from eating the leaves by mistake.
  2. It has occasionally been used for homicidal poisoning.
  3. Suicidal users are not known.

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