Cusco-bark also known as cuzco-bark is the bark of Cinchona pubescens, which comes from Cuzco, in South America. It contains a peculiar alkaloid called cusco-cinchonine, or cusconine, which resembles cinchonine in its physical qualities, but differs from it in its chemical properties. When applied medicinally it excites warmth in the system, and was therefore formerly recommended to be given in cold intermittents and low typhoid states of the system.
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Daturine is a poisonous alkaloid found in the thorn-apple (Datura Stramonium), said to be identical with atropine, the alkaloid from deadly nightshade.
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A poison is any agent capable of producing a morbid, noxious, dangerous, or deadly effect upon an animal when introduced either by cutaneous absorption, respiration, or the digestive canal. Poisons are divided, with respect to the kingdom to which they belong, into animal, vegetable, and mineral; but those which proceed from animals are often called venoms, whilst those that are produced by disease were formerly known as a virus. With respect to their effects they have been divided into four classes, namely, irritant, narcotic, narcotico-acrid, and septic or putrescent. Many poisons operate chemically, corroding the organized fibre, and causing inflammation and mortification. To this class belong many metallic oxides and salts, as arsenic, one of the most deadly poisons; many preparations of copper, mercury, antimony, and other metals; the mineral and vegetable acids; the substance derived from some plants, as the spurges and mezereon; and cantharides, from the animal kingdom.
Other poisons exercise a powerful action upon the nerves and a rapid destruction of their functionality. These are the sedative or stupefying poisons, and belong for the most part to the vegetable kingdom. Opium, hemlock, henbane, belladonna, are the best-known forms of this poison. Prussic acid, a poison obtained from the kernels of several fruits, the cherry-laurel, etc, is one of the most rapid destroyers of life. Among plants there are many which unite the properties of both kinds, as the common foxglove, and the monkshood or aconite. An alkaloid is extracted from the latter, 1/16th of a grain of which has proved fatal. Another class of poisons suddenly and entirely cause a cessation of some function necessary to life. To this class belong all the kinds of gas and air which are irrespirable, suffocating vapours, as carbon dioxide gas, fumes of sulphur and charcoal, etc. Many preparations of lead, as acetate or sugar of lead, carbonate or white-lead, etc, are to be counted in this class.
The effects of poisons materially depend on the extent of the dose, some of the most deadly poisons being useful remedies in certain quantities and circumstances. Antidotes naturally vary with the different kinds of poisons. They sometimes protect the body against the operation of the poison, sometimes change this last in such a manner that it loses its injurious properties, and sometimes remove or remedy its violent results. Thus in cases of poisoning by acrid and corrosive substances we use the fatty, mucilaginous substances, as oil, milk, etc, which sheathe and protect the coats of the stomach and bowels against the operation of the poison. Against the metallic poisons substances are employed which form with the poison insoluble compounds, such as freshly prepared hydrated oxide of iron, or dialysed iron for arsenic, albumin (white of egg) for mercury; Epsom or Glauber's salts for lead. Lime, chalk, and magnesia are the best remedies for the powerful acids. For cantharides, mucilage, gruel, and barley-water were formerly employed. We oppose to the alkaline poisons the weaker vegetable acids, as vinegar. Prussic acid is neutralized by alkalies and freshly precipitated iron oxide of iron. To arouse those poisoned by opium, one can use coffee and ammonia, and belladonna as an antagonistic drug. Chloral-hydrate poisoning is similarly treated; and for strychnia or nux vomica, animal charcoal in water and chloral-hydrate are used. In Great Britain the sale of poison is regulated and restricted by the Pharmacy Acts. Poisoning was common in ancient Rome, and in France and Italy during the 17th century.
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Sabadilla (cebadilla or cevadilla) is the name given in commerce to the pulverized seeds of Schoenocaulon officinale (Asagroea officinalis of Lindley), a plant of the lily family growing in Mexico and Central America. Mexico, in which the plant is cultivated, supplies the bulk of the seeds employed in pharmacy. The seeds are long, triangular, blackish-brown outside, white inside, of an acrid and burning taste, but without smell. Sabadilla powder was used as a vermifuge. The alkaloid extracted from the seeds, and known as veratrine, were applied externally in neuralgia, rheumatism, gout, dropsy, and also as an insecticide. Large doses of veratrine act as a most irritant and energetic poison, while small doses prove a rapid cathartic and diuretic.
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Erythroxylon Coca is a South American shrub which grows from one to two metres tall and is cultivated for its leaves (Coca) which are a powerful stimulant and the alkaloid derived from the leaves, cocaine.
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The greenheart (Nectandra Rodioei) is a tree of the family Lauraceae. It is native to Guiana where it is also called the bebeeru. The bark contains the alkaloid bebeerine.
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Laburnum is a highly poisonous deciduous shrub or small tree of the family Leguminosae with smooth greyish-green bark and trifoliate, long-stalked leaves which are dark-green and glabrous above, paler and felted below. The flowers are yellow and arranged in long drooping racemes. The fruit is a brown pod containing black seeds, which contain the highly toxic alkaloid cytisine.
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The chief British narcotic vegetable poisons are those derived from the plants Monk's-hood or Wolf's-bane, Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna or Dwale, Henbane, and Thorn-apple. The first of these (Aconitum Napellus) is intensely poisonous, owing to the presence of an alkaloid known as aconitin; the chief antidotes are atropin, belladonna, and digitalis.
The Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna) owes its poisonous properties to the active principle atropin. Physostigmin, the principle in the Calabar Bean, ig employed as an antidote, and stimulants should be freely given. Similar treatment is prescribed in the case of poisoning from the Thorn - apple (Datura Stramonium), while the Common Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) is another powerful poison.
A considerable number of common British plants contain irritant or narcotico-irritant poisons. Among these is the Cuckoo-pint or Wake-robin (Arum maculatum), the remedy for which is castor-oil, hot coffee, stimulants, and warm poulticing. Several well-known members of the order Umbelliferae contain a poison whose action starts in the lower limbs; these include the Common or Spotted Hemlock (Conlum maculatum), the Water Hemlock (Cicuta virosa), the Hemlock Water Dropwort (OEnanthe crocata), and the Fool's Parsley (AEthusa Cynapium). Among their antidotes are oak bark decoction, tannic and gallic acids, hot tea or other similar substances, and tincture of belladonna. A similar antidote is given in the case of Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale), in addition to white-of-egg drink, gum-water, barley-water, etc.
For the Woody Nightshade or Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara), castor-oil, stimulants, etc, are prescribed, in addition to the emetics to be employed in all cases. The berries of the Common Privet have also proved fatal. The well-known Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) owes its poisonous character to a powerful principle digitalin: tincture of aconite, used with various stimulating drinks, is an antidote, and a recumbent position should be maintained. Other poisonous plants are the Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia Cyparissias), the Pasque-flower (Anemone Pulsatilla), the Mezereon (Daphne Mezercon), the Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia), and Laburnum (Cytisus Laburnum). Mistakes are often made in distinguishing edible from poisonous fungi. The edible kinds mostly grow solitarily in dry, airy places, while poisonous varieties grow in clusters in woods and damp, dark places. Bright-coloured species should generally be avoided.
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Sabadilla (Schoenocaulon officinale) is a Mexican liliaceous plant. It bears linear, grass-like leaves and dense racemes of yellowish flowers. Its seeds, which contain the alkaloid veratrine, were formerly used in medicine as an emetic and purgative. Now the seeds are used to prepare insecticide.
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Tea (Thea) is a genus of plants of the natural order Ternstroemiaceae (that to which the camellia belongs), comprising the species (Thea sinensis or chinensis) which yields most of the tea of commerce. By different modes of culture this species has diverged into two distinct varieties, entitled Thea viridis and Thea bohea. The former is a large hardy evergreen plant with spreading branches and thin leaves from 3 to 5 inches long; the latter is a smaller plant, and differs from the other in several particulars. From both, according to the process of manufacture, black and green teas are procured. The tea plant is not only cultivated over a great part of China, but also in Japan, Assam and other parts of India, and Ceylon, and Africa. It was introduced into the United States, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia. Its growth is chiefly confined to hilly tracts; it is raised from seed, and the rearing of it requires great skill and attention. In seven years the plant attains a height of 6 feet, and the leaves are plucked off carefully one by one four times a year. In their green condition they are placed in a hot pan over a small furnace, and then rubbed lightly between the palms of the hands, or on a table. This process is repeated until the leaves become small, crisp, and curled. The black teas thus prepared include bohea, congou, souchong, and pekoe; the green teas, twankay, hyson-skin, young hyson, hyson, imperial, and gunpowder. Green tea gets less of the fire than black tea. The broken leaves, stalks, and refuse of the tea are compressed into solid bricks, and in this form it was traditionally imported by the Russians into the greater part of Central Asia, where (besides being used as a sort of coinage) it was sometimes stewed with milk, salt, and butter. There was formerly considerable adulteration in the teas sent from China to the European market, and they were often artificially coloured with a mixture of Prussian blue, or of gypsum and indigo carefully
The infusion of tea-leaves in hot water yields a beverage which has little nutritive value, but it increases respiratory action, and seems to have a stimulative and restorative action on the nervous system. This is chiefly due to the essential oil and the theine (an alkaloid in its nature identical with the caffeine in coffee) which it contains, whilst the tannin, which is also present, acts as an astringent. If the water is boiling an infusion of ten minutes is sufficient to extract all the theine, and a longer period only adds to the tannin in the beverage, a result which is very hurtful to digestion. From historical sources we learn that tea was used in China as a beverage in the 6th century, and two centuries after its use had become common. In England we first find it mentioned about 1615 by an agent of the East India Company; in 1660 Pepys says in his diary, 'I did send for a cup of tea, a China drink, of which I never had drunk before;' and in 1664 the East India Company made a present to the king of 2 lbs. 2 oz. In the year 1678 the import of tea to Britain was 5000 lbs; forty years after it reached 1,000,000 lbs; and in 1905 the total import was 308,408,903 lbs, the rate of consumption being nearly 6 lbs per head of the population.
China used to hold almost a monopoly in the production of tea, but first India and then Ceylon (after 1873) became important competitors, and by the start of the 20th century some 95 per cent of all the tea brought to Britain was the produce of these countries, Ceylon in particular making extraordinary advances in the quantity of its tea produced around 1900. Outside of India and China, Britain was traditionally the principal tea-consuming country in the world, coffee being less in favour there than in many other countries, the United States and Canada for example, but after the Great War the popularity of coffee in Britain started to steadily increase in Britain.
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