SEMICARPUS ANACARDIUM (BHALIA, MARKING NUT)

SEMICARPUS ANACARDIUM

Testa or coat of the seed contains toxic chemicals. The seeds are heart-shaped and black. The peri seed coat carp yields brownish oily juice which is irritant to the skin and contains the active principles, semicarpol and bhilawanol. On exposure to air, the juice turns blackish. The juice is used by the laundries to inscribe identification number on clothes.

Fatal dose – 6-8 seeds.

Fatal period –12 – 24 hours.

SEMICARPUS ANACARDIUMSigns and symptoms – When spilt over the skin, there is bruise-like painful lesions with marginal small blisters. The lesions itch and may ulcerate.

When taken internally by mouth, there is burning pain in the throat and abdomen with blister formation in the throat some times. There may be dyspnoea, cyanosis, rapid pulse, fall of blood pressure, loss of reflexes. Death may be preceded by delirium and coma.

Treatment – To wash the contaminated part of the skin with soap water. To give demulcent drink and symptomatic treatment.

Postmortem appearance – Externally, bruise-like lesions with surrounding small blisters may be noticed near the angle of the mouth or on the lips, if juice is swallowed. Internally, inflammation and blister formation may be seen in the pharynx and oesophagus. The stomach may be highly congested. Other organs are congested. Liver may show early degenerative change.

Medicolegal aspects – The juice has quackary medicinal use and that way accidental poisoning may occur. Suicidal and homicidal uses are uncommon. The juice may be spilt on the body to cause injury and annoyance. It is used as a local abortifacient agent. The juice is used externally, to produce bruise like lesion and frame a false charge of assault against an enemy.

Differences between bruise and lesion produced by semicarpus juice.
Points Bruise Lesion due to semicarpus juice
Shape regular irregular
Margin diffused sharp and clear
Swelling present absent in some cases
Colour change occurs does not occur
Itching absent present
Blisters  absent  present on the margin
Cause rupture of subcutaneous capillaries chemical damage of the skin
 Extravasation in the tissue  present absent
Nail beds  nothing significant  similar lesion due to itching