Ricin Poison - Health Article

Ricin Poison

What is ricin?


Ricin is a substance which mainly known as poison. In addition, intensive research is being carried out into the possibility of using it as a cell-selective agent in the treatment of cancer.

Ricin beans

Ricin comes from the beans of the Ricinus communis (castor oil, castor oil plant), a plant in the Netherlands or as an ornamental plant and in some southern regions is grown for oil. The plant originated in Africa.

Ricin is a protein that consists of two partial chains, A and B are called, one of which attaches itself to constituents of the cell membrane and ensures that the substance in a cell is recorded, and the other has an enzyme activity that permanently an essential part of a ribosome makes ineffective by which a cell which has included a ricin molecule after a short time is no longer able to synthesize proteins and dies. Forms of the latter enzyme to come into much more plants for, for example, in wheat germ, but this leads in those cases apparently do not lead to problems because the component is missing, which takes care of uptake in the cell.

 Ricin is a substance which mainly known as poison Ricin Poison


Ricin is in significant amounts (a few percent) present in the scrap that remains after squeezing out the seeds of castor oil. It is water soluble and the production is relatively easy and inexpensive. The poison can be inhaled, ingested, or injected, and there is no antidote. Even in small amounts of ricin in the pure state is lethal. The lethal dose for a human is 0.03 milligrams, that is an amount which can be extracted from one single castor bean.

In practice, are necessary for a lethal oral dose for an adult is around 10 beans because a large part of the ricin already is broken down to the cells can reach. For children this dose is obviously smaller, and anyway it is not wise but also consume a single bean. Bean seems to have a nice nutty flavor and is therefore especially dangerous.

Ricin as a chemical weapon

Ricin is a substance that is seen as a potential chemical weapon and is therefore included in Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Wonder Beans are fairly easy to obtain and it is even possible for attackers to grow entire fields miracle trees for ricin production, as they grow coca plants for cocaine production. From the bean ricin can then be refined in a process that is possible with a minimal amount of equipment. The curbing trade in wonder bean is therefore impossible, one can only fight the refining of the poison.

Not only is ricin highly toxic, but in addition it is difficult to detect. Ricin is a protein, and no element or alkaloid, which makes the substance difficult (as a substance foreign to the body) is to show. Also find ricin within hours his way into the body's cells to do its deadly work there, and this disappears as such from the blood and body.

One suspects that a Bulgarian dissident journalist Georgi Markov, on behalf of the Bulgarian secret service was killed in 1978 in London by pricking him with an umbrella point where a tiny steel spherical pellet was brought into the muscle tissue. The pellet was punctured and could hold approximately 0.3 mg poison. Markov died a few days later. Based on the symptoms and the minimum amount of poison that could be used is assumed that it must have been ricin. Direct evidence is lacking.

Ricin Poisoning Symptoms


The symptoms depend on the dose and the route of administration. Possible effects include weakness, fever, cough, breathing problems, joint problems, damage to the respiratory tract, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. The nervous system can be damaged as well. Ricin may be administered orally, injected, or inhaled as aerosol. Injection or inhalation gives a stronger response than oral ingestion.

When administered orally, the first signs of poisoning are usually a bloody stools and bloody vomit. Then follow circulation problems and strong skin changes. Even when it comes to animal poisonings with similar symptoms. For horses already applies 0.2 grams ricinuszaden as lethal dose.

As a first aid is subject to the administration of a strong adsorbent (such as activated carbon) to reduce the absorption of toxins through the stomach. Immediately after gastric lavage.

Actions such as vomiting and fluid to drink are properly advised by medics in case of ricin poisoning. Vomiting can cause damage to the esophagus and throat, extra moisture ensures that a poison is more rapidly absorbed into the body.

In cramps, one may administer diazepam.

Against Cancer

It is thought that ricin in the future may play a role in the fight against cancer - if a way can be found to steer within selectively in cancer cells; However, this also applies to many other toxins. Because of ricin or other poison to get into a specific cancer cell, cancer can be treated without affecting other cells. In this way, patients would have far fewer side effects.

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