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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Monday 7th October 2013

My wife needed a blood test, last Thursday, and the doctor struggled for a couple of minutes only managing to fill about half a syringe before deciding to give up and try a different vein. To distract my wife’s attention from what was becoming a stressful procedure, I said ‘That’s the difference between TV and the real world. On CSI, if they find one drop of blood, they can tell what your granny had for breakfast. In reality, it takes a lot of blood to get an accurate cross match’.

Then, on Friday, my Google alert for ‘ricin’, the toxin found in Ricinus communis, the castor oil plant, took me to a story that made the same point very clearly.

I won’t repeat all the points I made recently about the TV programme ‘Breaking Bad’ Monday 30th September 2013 but one of them was;

‘…there is no way that the amount of ‘ricin’ given to the victim would be fatal by ingestion’

The story Google took me to was from the Salt Lake Tribune and headlined;

‘Utah woman remains critical after suicide-by-ricin attempt’

It describes a 37-year old woman who was admitted to hospital after an apparent suicide attempt involving the ingestion of ground castor beans.

The opening paragraph says the woman ‘remained in critical condition on Friday’ though the fourth says she was conscious and talking to police throughout and that the hospital considered her condition to be critical rather than there being any indications of her being in a critical condition.

She is said to have bought 60 castor bean seeds and ground up and eaten half of them. I know I could be sticking my neck out because her condition may deteriorate in the coming days so I’m not going to assume she will suffer no long-term effects. (I'm also aware that it could turn out that she didn't eat any beans because the story says she 'apparently' ground and ate the beans.) But, what I will say is that she seems to have eaten many, many times the amount of crushed castor beans Walter White used on his target and has, so far, survived for a lot longer than that fictional person.

I was going to wait to see what happens to the woman before writing this but my Google alert is also still bringing me lots of entries showing people believe that ricin has the power ascribed to it by the writers of ‘Breaking Bad’ plus the question of what is a fatal dose sets up a piece to follow in the coming days.

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