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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

FDA Poisonous Plant Database

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AUTHOR(S): Chou, T. Q.
TITLE: Poisoning by sikimitoxin.
YEAR: 1926 CITATION: Proc Soc Exp Biol Med, 24(), 708-709 [English]
FDA #: F19498
ABSTRACT: Article: Chinese Bastard Anise, Mang T'sao, commonly known under the coloquial name T'zu Ta Liao, and identified as the fruit of Illicum religiosum, Sieb., has long been known to be poisonous. It is chiefly used as a condiment in preparing Chinese meat dishes. Fatal poisoning by these seeds is not an uncommon occurrence. The chemical nature of its toxic principle was first investigated by Eykman who, working with the Japanese anise, or sikimi-no-ki, also identified as Illicum religiosum, Sieb., isolated from the seeds a crystalline body which he named "Sikimin" and claimed for it a powerful toxic action. 12.5 mgm. of Sikimin killed a young dog in 3 hours. This crystalline body or sikimin, has never since been isolated by other workers; crude seeds, or aqueous extracts, being generally employed for the physiological study of this poisonous plant. In a recent chemical study of Mang T'sao, the writer isolated from the seeds an amorphous poisonous principle with definite chemical and physical characters. Given to cats, 0.2 mgm. of this amorphous substance per kilogram of body weight was found to be fatal, less than 0.1 mgm. of substance per kilogram of body weight was sufficient to produce the same poisoning symptoms as those produced by the crude seeds, i. e., salivation, vomiting defecation, convulsion and death. The name "Sikimitoxin" is suggested for the new toxic principle to distinguish it from Eykman's Sikimin, from which it differs in its physical and chemical properties, and also in its much higher toxicity. Properties of Sikitoxin: It is a feebly acid nitrogen-free body and occurs as a white amorphous powder without difinite melting point. When slowly heated, it sinters at 63º C., then gradually increases its volume as the temperature rises, and finally becomes a clear liquid at 135º C. It is easily soluble in cold water, chloroform and alcohol, less so in ether and benzene and insoluble in petroleum ether. When brought into contact with a small quantity of cold water, ti becomes at once an oil and then gradually dissolves. Its toxicity is rapidly destroyed by the action of caustic alkalies, and greatly decreased by the prolonged action of boiling water with or without the presence of hydrochloric acid. It is questionable whether Eykman's sikimin was the original substance present in the seeds, or the resulting product formed by the prolonged action of acetic and hydrochloric acid used in his process of isolation, as Sikimitoxin was found to be sensible towards the action of these chemical reagents. Details concerning the process of isolation, properties and the toxicity of Sikimitoxin will appear later. This is a preliminary report. References: 1. Read, BE, china Med. J., 1922, xxxvi, 303. 2. Eykman JF, Pharm J., 1880-1881, xi, 1046. 3. Read BE & Kiang PC, Chinese J Physiol, 1927, I, 15-22. 4. Guerro LE, Philippine J Sci., 1916, ii, Sec B, 203-213. 5. Chen KK, J A Ph A, 1926, xv, 861
GRIN #: 19797 Exit Disclaimer
LATIN NAMEIllicum religiosum Sieb.
STANDARD PLANT NAMEIllicium anisatum L.