|WHAT IS IT?
a extremely toxic natural chemical.
The seeds from the castor bean plant,
Ricinus communis, are poisonous to people, animals
and insects. One of the main toxic proteins is
"ricin", named by Stillmark in 1888
when he tested the beans' extract on red blood
cells and saw them agglutinate. Now we know that
the agglutination was due to another toxin that
was also present, called RCA (Ricinus communis
agglutinin). Ricin is a potent cytotoxin but a
weak hemagglutinin, whereas RCA is a weak cytotoxin
and a powerful hemagglutinin. Poisoning by ingestion
of the castor bean is due to ricin, not RCA, because
RCA does not penetrate the intestinal wall, and
does not affect red blood cells unless given intravenously.
If RCA is injected into the blood, it will cause
the red blood cells to agglutinate and burst by
hemolysis. Perhaps just one milligram of ricin
can kill an adult. The symptoms of human poisoning
begin within a few hours of ingestion.
-The symptoms are:
diarrhea, sometimes bloody.
-Within several days there is:
a decrease in urine,
and a decrease in blood pressure.
If death has not occurred in 3-5
days, the victim usually recovers.
It is advisable to keep children
away from the castor bean plant or necklaces made
with its seeds. In fact donít even have
them in or around a house with small children.
If they ingest the leaves or swallow the seeds,
they may get
poisoned. The highly toxic seeds beaded into necklaces,
cause skin irritation at the contact point.
If the seed is swallowed without chewing, and
there is no damage to the seed coat, it will most
likely pass harmlessly through the digestive tract.
However, if it is chewed or broken and then swallowed,
the ricin toxin will be absorbed
by the intestines. It is said that just one seed
can kill a child. Children are more sensitive
adults to fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhea,
and can quickly become severely dehydrated and
Castor bean plants in a garden should not be allowed
to flower and seed.
SOURCE: Animal Science at Cornell