Thursday, July 7, 2011

Animal and Plant Toxins

Toxins have been used since the early years by humans for hunting, fishing and warfare like the cave dwellers. Based on some educational shows, up to the present time some tribes in some countries still practice this.

Toxins can cause skin allergies, hallucinations, dizziness, paralysis and death or any bad reaction in the body but according to Paracelsus, the "father of toxicology", toxin may have no effect or can also cause positive reaction when a small right amount of dosage is introduced (hormesis).

This phenomenon is called "Dosage-Response Relationship". That is why he quoted the words "All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy." He also documented chemicals that were actually responsible for the toxicity of a plant or an animal and even the body’s response to the toxin.

Animal toxin
North American Diamond back Rattlesnake
Crotolase- is an enzyme from snake venom that can be extracted from a North American Rattle snake, which causes severe bleeding. When Crotolase is introduced in the body of an animal, it splice off only fibrin peptide A which results into a monomer that is unable to polymerize.

Portuguese Man of War

Nematocysts- are actually cells which introduce toxin and it is unique to the phylum Cnidaria. It is usually found on outer surface of an organism, which in a jellyfish it is found on their tentacles. These cells are acknowledged as stinging cells which are used to inject toxins.

                The High molecular weight toxin (P3) from a Physalia physalis (Portuguese Man of war); reversibly blocks the glutamate receptors which are the integral parts of nervous system.

Tetrodotoxin-is a toxin commonly produced by blue ringed octopus, poison-dart frogs and pufferfish. The toxin causes paralysis of the respiratory musculature that leads to death.
Yellow Banded Poison Frog
Blue Ringed Octopus

Plant toxins

Methylazoxy Glycoside- It is a compound chemical found on cycasin plant that when eaten, metabolized and by P450 enzyme it is converted into an intermediate toxin which is possibly carcinogenic.

Pink Foxgloves

Cardiac and steroidal Glycoside- Is a toxin found on foxgloves which can cause nausea, vomiting, hallucination, convulsions or death.  

Linamarin – is a cyanogenic glycoside toxin found on Cassava’s leaves and roots, lima beans and flax.
Lima beans
Flax seeds

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