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A collection of resources for understanding and coping with the complexities of modern health and social concerns. It provides an objective overview of the. The encyclopedia of poisons and antidotes / Carol Turkington with Deborah Mitchell ; foreword by Shirley K. Osterhout. — 3rd ed. p. ; cm. — (Facts on File library. The encyclopedia of poisons and antidotes. The BookReader requires JavaScript to be enabled. Please check that your browser supports JavaScript and that it.

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The history of poison [1] stretches from before BC to the present day. Poisons have been used for many purposes across the span of human existence, most commonly as weaponsanti-venomsand medicines. Poison has allowed much progress in branches, toxicologyand technology, among other sciences.

Poison was discovered in ancient timesand was used by ancient tribes and civilizations as a hunting tool to quicken and ensure the death of their prey or enemies. This use of poison grew more advanced, and many of these ancient peoples began forging weapons designed specifically for poison enhancement.

Later in history, particularly at the time of the Roman Empireone of the more prevalent uses was assassination. As early as BC, poisonings executed at the dinner table or in drinks were reported, and the practice became a common occurrence.

The use of fatal substances was seen among every social class; even the nobility would often use it to dispose of unwanted political or economic opponents.

In Medieval Europe, poison became a more popular form of killing, though cures surfaced for many of the more widely known poisons. This was stimulated by the increased availability of poisons; shops known as apothecariesselling various medicinal wares, were open to the public, and from there, substances that were traditionally used for curative purposes were employed for more sinister ends.

At approximately the same time, in the Middle East, Arabs developed a form of arsenic that is odorless and transparent, making the poison difficult to detect. This “poison epidemic” was also prevalent in parts of Asia at this time, as well.

Over the centuries, the variety of harmful uses of poisons continued to increase. The means for curing these poisons also advanced in parallel. In the modern world, intentional poisoning is less common than the Middle Ages. Rather, the more common concern is the risk of accidental poisoning from everyday substances and products.

Constructive uses for poisons have increased considerably in the modern world. Poisons are now used as pesticidesdisinfectantscleaning solutions, and preservatives. Nonetheless, poison continues to be used as a hunting tool in remote parts of developing countries, including Africa, South America, and Asia.

Archaeological findings prove that while ancient mankind used conventional weapons such as axes and clubs, and later swords, they sought more subtle, destructive means of causing death—something that could be achieved through poison. This may have also given birth to the concept of the stereotypical ” medicine man ” or ” witch doctor “. Once the use and danger of poison was realized, it became apparent that something had to be done.

Mithridates VIKing of Pontus an ancient Hellenistic state of northern Anatoliafrom around —63 BC, lived in constant fear of being assassinated through poison. He became a hard-working pioneer in the search for a cure for poisons.

He was paranoid to the point that he administered daily amounts of poisons in an attempt to make himself immune to as many poisons as he could. After being defeated by PompeyMithridates’ antidote prescriptions and notes of medicinal plants were taken by the Romans and translated into Latin.

Pliny the Elder describes over different poisons. One he describes as “The blood of a duck found in a certain district of Pontus, which was supposed to live on poisonous food, and the blood of this duck was afterwards used in the preparation of the Mithridatum, because it fed on poisonous plants and suffered no harm. Indian surgeon Sushruta defined the stages of slow poisoning and the remedies of slow poisoning.


He also mentions antidotes and the use of traditional substances to counter the effects of poisoning. Poisoned weapons were used in ancient India, [5] and war tactics in ancient India have references to poison. A verse in Sanskrit reads ” Jalam visravayet sarmavamavisravyam ca dusayet ,” which translates to “Waters of wells were to be mixed with poison and thus polluted.

Kautilya suggested employing means such as seduction, secret use of weapons, and poison for political gain. Unlike many civilizations, records of Egyptian knowledge and use of poisons can only be dated back to approximately BC. However, it is believed that the earliest known Egyptian pharaohMenesstudied the properties of poisonous plants and venoms, according to early records.

Poisoning |

The Egyptians are also thought to have come into knowledge about elements such as antimonycopper, crude arseniclead, opiumand mandrake among others which are mentioned in papyri. Egyptians are now thought to be the first to master distillationand to manipulate the poison that can be retrieved from apricot kernels.

Cleopatra is said to have poisoned herself with an asp after hearing of Marc Antony ‘s demise. Prior to her death, she was said to have sent many of her maidservants to act as guinea pigs to test different poisons, including belladonnahenbaneand the strychnine tree’s seed. He described this poison as ‘disappearing in water’, giving a clear solution.

In Roman times, poisoning carried out at the dinner table or common eating or drinking area was not unheard of, or even uncommon, and was happening as early as BC.

The writer Livy describes the poisoning of members of the upper class and nobles of Rome, and Roman emperor Nero is known to have favored the use of poisons on his relatives, even hiring a personal poisoner. His preferred enema poison was said to be cyanide.

The Encyclopedia of Poisons and Antidotes

pf Nero’s predecessor, Claudiuswas allegedly poisoned with mushrooms or alternatively poison herbs. Halotushis taster, Gaius Stertinius Xenophonhis doctor, and the infamous poisoner Locusta have all been accused of possibly being antisotes administrator of the fatal substance, but Agrippinahis final wife, is considered to be the most likely to have arranged his murder and may have even administered the poison herself.

Some report that he died after prolonged suffering following a single dose at his evening meal, while some say that he encyclopediw somewhat, only to be poisoned once more by a feather dipped in poison which was pushed down his throat under the pretense of helping him to vomit, [13] or by poisoned gruel or an enema.

Despite the negative effects of poison, which were so evident in these times, cures were being found in poison, even at such a time where it was hated by the most of the general public. An example can be found in the works of Iranian born Persian physician, philosopher, and scholar Rhazeswriter of Secret of Secretswhich antidotss a long list of chemical compounds, minerals and appratus, the first man to distil alcohol and use it as an anti-septic, and the person who suggested mercury be used as a laxative.

He made discoveries relating to a mercury chloride called corrosive sublimate. An ointment derived from this sublimate was abtidotes to encyflopedia what Rhazes described as ‘the itch ‘, which is now referred to as scabies. Poidons proved an effective treatment encyclpedia of mercury’s poisonous nature and ability to penetrate the skin, allowing it to eliminate the disease and the itch. In the late 20th century, an increasing number of products used for everyday life proved to be poisonous.


The risk of being poisoned nowadays lies more in the accidental factor, where poison be induced or emcyclopedia by accident. Poisoning is the 4th most common cause of death within young people.

Accidental ingestions are most common in children less anx 5 years old. However, hospital and emergency facilities are much enhanced compared to the first half of the 20th century and before, and antidotes are more available. Antidotes have been found for many poisons, and the antidotes for some of the most commonly known poisons are shown in the table above:.

However, poison still exists as a murderous entity today, but it is not as popular form of conducting murder as it used to be in past times, probably because of the wider range of ways to kill people and other factors that must be taken into consideration. One of the more recent deaths by poisoning was that of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in from lethal polonium radiation poisoning.

Today, poison is used for a wider variety of purposes than it used to be. For example, poison can be used to rid an unwanted infestation by pests or to kill weeds. Such chemicals, known as antidotee[23] have been known to be used in some form xnd about BC. However, the use of pesticides has increased staggeringly fromand presently approximately 2. Today, in many developing peoples of countries such as certain parts of Africa, South America and Asia, the use of poison as an actual weapon of hunting and attack still endures.

In Africa, certain arrow poisons are made using floral ingredients, such as of that taken from the plant Acokanthera. This plant contains ouabainwhich is a cardiac glycoside, oleanderand milkweeds. The ingredients for the creation of these poisons are mainly extracted from plants of the AntiarisStrychnos and Strophanthus genera, and Antiaris toxicaria a tree of the mulberry and breadfruit familyfor example, is used in the Java island of Indonesia, as well as several of its surrounding islands.

As well as plant based poisons, there are others that are made that are based on animals. For example, the encycopedia or pupae of a beetle genus of the Northern Kalahari Desert poisojs used to create a slow-acting poison that can be quite useful when hunting.

The beetle itself is applied to the arrow head, by squeezing the contents of the beetle right poksons the head. Plant sap is then mixed and serves as an adhesive. However, instead of the plant sap, a powder made from the dead, eviscerated larva can be used.

Books The Encyclopedia of Poisons and Antidotes (Facts on File Library of Health Living) Full

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 21 March Retrieved 1 April Retrieved on 29 April The Roots of Ayurveda: Selections from Sanskrit Medical Writings. The Journal of Military History. Kautilya Arthshastra and the Science of Management: Contrasting The Prince with the Arthashastra of Kautilya”.

World History of Warfare University of Nebraska Press. Magic and Medicine of Plants.

Retrieved on 3 April Retrieved 21 May Retrieved on 21 April Archived 9 October at the Wayback Machine. American Journal of Therapeutics. Archived from the original on 26 November Retrieved 10 January Living in the Environment 12th Ed. Retrieved 28 April Retrieved 30 April Archived from the original on 26 April Emsley, John May The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison. Poisoning Toxicity Overdosing T36—T65—