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Croton tiglium L.

Botanical Name

Croton tiglium L.[1]

Synonyms

Croton acutus Thunb., Croton arboreus Shecut, Croton birmanicus Müll.Arg., Croton camaza Perr., Croton himalaicus D.G.Long, Croton jamalgota Buch.-Ham., Croton muricatus Blanco [Illegitimate], Croton officinalis (Klotzsch) Alston [Illegitimate], Croton pavana Buch.-Ham., Halecus verus Raf., Kurkas tiglium (L.) Raf., Oxydectes birmanica (Müll.Arg.) Kuntze, Oxydectes blancoana Kuntze, Oxydectes pavana (Buch.-Ham.) Kuntze, Oxydectes tiglium (L.) Kuntze, Tiglium officinale Klotzsch [4]

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Cengkiam, gajah berang [1]bori [2]
English Purging croton, croton oil plant, croton [1], purgative croton, croton-oil seeds, croton oil [2]
India Naepala, jayapala, kanakaphala, titteriphala (Sanskrit); jamalgota (Hindi); geyapal (Bombay); nepal (Gujerati); jaipal (Benggali, Punjabi) [2]
Arab Hab-ul-salatin, batu, dand [2]
Myanmar Kanako [2]
Iran Bedanjir-e-khatai, dund [2]
France Croton cathartique [1], huile-dectiglium [2]
Portugal Crotone, crontone tiglio [1]
Germany Krotonol [2].

Description

Croton tiglium is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is a monoecious, evergreen shrub that can grow up to 6 m high. The young branches are sparsely stellate hairy and soon become glabrous. The leaves are alternate, almost opposite at the end of the shoots. They are simple, with stipules up to 3.5 mm long and petiole is 2.5 cm long. The blade is ovate to ovate-lanceolate and measures 5-17 cm x 2.5-9.5 cm with cuneate to broadly rounded base. The apex is obtuse to acuminate, margins shallowly toothed to almost entire, glabrous, metallic green to bronze or orange, and sparsely hairy beneath.The inflorescence is an axillary or terminal raceme, measure 5-7 cm long, with male flowers in the upper half and female flowers in lower half. The flowers are unisexual, 5-merous; pedicel 2-4 mm long. The sepals are triangular to ovate, 2 mm long, hairy. The male flower has elliptical-lanceolate petals about 2 mm long, whitish and has 15-20 stamens. The female flowers are without petals, superiorly placed ovary which is rounded and 2 mm long, densely stellate hairy and 3-celled. There are 3 styles deeply bifid, about 4 mm long. The fruit is oblong-ovoid, dull yellow, roughly stellate hairy and 3-seeded. The seeds are ellipsoid-trigonous, measure 9 mm x 6 mm, and greyish brown [1].

Distribution

C. tiglium is native of tropical Asia and had been introduced to Africa as a commercial crop. However, croton oil has fallen out of favour as a purgative in lieu of less toxic purgatives available in the market today [1].

Plant Use

The seed and seed oil of C. tiglium have been used as a strong purgative, cathartic and poison. The seed oil and bark are used as a remedy for cancerous sores and tumours, carbuncles, colds, dysentery, fever, paralysis, scabies, schistosomiasis, snakebite, sore throat and toothache [1].

Toxic Parts

Whole plant especially the seeds [1].

Toxin

Crotin is the toxic principle in the seeds of C. tiglium. It is a mixture of toxic proteins the croton globulin and croton albumin. It is an irritant and a vesicant. It also possesses haemolytic and blood coagulant properties with delayed poisonous effects. Croton oil does not contain crotin. The oil on the other hand contains croton resin which is a vesicant and cause skin irritation. The resin contains esters of long chain fatty acids and the diterpene of phobol which shows paradoxical biological activities like co-carcinogen and anticancer activities [1] [3].

Risk Management

C. tiglium is not a common plant grown by gardeners. It is not used in medicine today with the advent of safer purgatives [1].

Clinical Findings

Initial symptoms upon ingestion of the seeds of C. tiglium include burning pain in the mouth, throat and stomach, salivation, nausea, vomiting, colicky pain in the abdomen and bloody diarrhoea. This is often followed by vertigo, prostration, circulatory and respiratory collapse and death may occur. A single seed has been reported to have proven fatal [3].

A single drop of the oil, causes an acrid and burning sensation in the fauces and oesophagus, a sense of warmth in the stomach, nausea and sometimes vomiting. In an hour or two, abdominal colic occurs together with a sensation of heat about the anus. Within 24 hours diarrhoea ensues together with general weakness. Sometimes, the oil causes epigastric uneasiness and oppression, palpitation of the heart, headache, feverishness, perspiration and sleep [2].

Management

In cases of croton seed poisoning, the recommended procedure are by gastric lavage, demulcent drinks, fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy, morphine and atropine to relieve pain and reduce intestinal secretion, alkalinise the urine by giving 2-5 g sodium bicarbonate for every 8 hours and finally doing the blood transfusion for gastro-intestinal bleeding if required [3].

References

  1. Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A. PROTA Volume 11(1) – Medicinal plants 1. Wageningen: PROTA Foundation; 2008. p. 214-215.
  2. Panda H. Herbs cultivation & medicinal uses. 2nd ed. New Delhi: National Institute of Industrial Research; 2000. p. 254.
  3. Karmakar RN. Forensic medicine and toxicology. Kolkata: Academic Publishers; 2007. p. 84.
  4. The Plant List. Croton tiglium L. Ver 1.1. c2013  [cited 2014 August 13].Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-51357

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