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J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec;95(2-3):123-6.

Cerbera odollam: a 'suicide tree' and cause of death in the state of Kerala, India.

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Laboratory of Analytical Toxicology (LAT), Quai Jean Jaurès, 07800 La Voulte sur Rhône, France.


Cerbera odollam is a tree belonging to the poisonous Apocynaceae family, which includes the yellow and common oleanders. The seeds are excessively toxic, containing cerberin as the main active cardenolide. Cerbera venenifera, a related species found in Madagascar, has a long history as an ordeal poison, and was responsible for the death of 3000 people per year in previous centuries. The odollam tree is responsible for about 50% of the plant poisoning cases and 10% of the total poisoning cases in Kerala, India. It is used both for suicide and homicide. The aim of this retrospective study is to call attention to a powerful toxic plant that is currently completely ignored by western physicians, chemists, analysts and even coroners and forensic toxicologists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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