is toxicology and what does it study?
The name "toxicology" comes
from the Greek word toxicon meaning "poison". Toxicology is the
science of poisons and poisonings. It focuses on general toxic effects;
toxic doses; poison action; clinical symptoms and organ damages; methods
of extracting and proving of poisonous substances; therapy and prophylaxis.
Poisons are substances which,
under certain conditions endanger and/or harm one's health through their
chemical or physico-chemical properties in case of contact or interaction
with the organism even in relatively small amounts. The concept of a poison
implies the harmful property of a certain substance. There’s also a very
popular definition given by Paracelsius, “There is no substance which itself
is unconditionally a poison and vice versa every substance under certain
conditions can be a poison. "
Ppoisoning includes the
pathologic effect and clinical symptoms which occur as a result of the
toxic effect of the substance. The poisoning can be acute or chronic. The
place that the poison got in the organism through is called entry. If the
toxin gets directly into the blood, the poisoning as a rule develops fasrer.
There are substances such as snake’s venom and curare, which are extremely
dangerous if in the blood but are practically harmless if in food
or on the skin. The poisonings may be intentional (murder, suicide), as
a result of carelessness, or accidental.
are the apparent signs of poisoning?
Quick reversal of the psychic
condition (agitation, hallucinations, depression) in youngsters; appearance
of seizures; quick loss of consciousness in an youngster without any visible
injury; vomiting without stomachache, and diarrhea without fever; acute
breathing and heart rhythm disruption in youngsters or children... Also,
the location of the the victim–is it near poisonous plants or in the habitat
of poisonous animals; are there any parts of poisonous plants or poisonous
animals nearby; has there been an evidence suggesting a suicide; common
symptoms in a number of a number of people under the same conditions.
determines the severity of a poisoning?
The action of the poison
in the organism depends on the interaction of a variety of factors such
1. The kind of the poison
and the dose
1.1. The poison
is defined by its origin, physical, chemical properties (solubility, physical
condition, etc.), toxic effects, etc.
1.2. The dose
of the poison can be toxic (the minimum quantity of the substance which
can provoke an intoxication) and lethal (the minimum quantity of the substance
which can lead to a fatal end)
2. The general condition
of the organism: age, tiredness, food satiation, previous or accompanying
3. Contact conditions–home,
picnic, excursion, travel, distance from the nearest medical facilities,
are the general principles of therapy?
1. Elimination (clearing)
of the affected organism from the poisonous substance. To a great extent,
it depends on the kind of poison and its entry. Methods:
lavage, repeated charcoal, whole-bowel irrigation andcathartics in cases
inhalation in cases with respiratory entry
the skin and the mucous membranes
of the blood by specific medical techniques such as alkaline and
acid diuresis, hemodialysis, hemoperfusion, hemofiltration, plasmapheresis,
2. Administration of appropriate
3. Supportive care–treatment
aimed to maintain the functioning of the main organ system in the organism
4. Symptomatic treatment–aimed
at suppressing specific pathological symptoms and conditions caused by
is an antidote?
Antidote substances have
been applied since the remote past. According to the available knowledge
1. Substances which provoke
vomiting and diarrhea in order to remove the poison of the stomach and
2. Substances which change
the physical or chemical properties of the poison which remained at the
entry such as activated charcoal (medical carbon), liquid paraffin, sodium
bicarbonate (NaHCO3) solutions, etc.
3. Antidotes–products of
biochemistry and pharmacology–which affect the poisons at different stages
of its transformation in the body (enzyme activators, physiological antagonists,
4. Immune serum–antidotes
in cases of snake, scorpion, digitalis and other poisonings
|Ancient Pontic tsar Mitridat
VI reigned between 121 and 63 BC. He was very afraid of being poisoned
and that is why he was particularly interested both in poisons and antidotes.
Together with his court physician, he carried out a number of experiments,
some of which involved human beings, and described them in the book Secret
memoirs. They created a universal antidote, which comprised 54 poisonous
ingredients of herbal or animal nature, such as opium, desiccated and pulverized
parts of venomous snakes and plants. This universal antidote was subsequently
named Mitridatum. The tsar daily took small doses of it in order to acquire
resistance to any poison. After his son left him, Mitridat decided to put
a fast and easy end to his life by poisoning himself but all his attempts
were unsuccessful. That is why he used a sword to commit suicide. Hence,
the term Mitridatism denotes the phenomenon of becoming accustomed to poisons.