Thursday, July 7, 2011


What are toxins? 
      From the word itself, it seems like it is something harmful and may cause danger to a person. Now, let's see what are these toxins all about. 
      Toxins are poisonous substances that are produced by living organisms such as plants and animals. Poisonous as it says, and these can cause harm to a person when exposed with these toxins. Other organism are capable of producing toxins like bacteria, fungi and algae. Consist of amino acids and proteins.

Let's have a brief background about toxins. Let's see how are these connected to history.
"399 BC Death of Socrates by Hemlock - Charged with religious heresy and corrupting the morals of local youth. Active chemical is the alkaloid coniine which when ingested causes paralysis, convulsions and potentially death."

"Opium War of 1839-42
  Great Britain has a monopoly on the sale of opium which it forces on China.  Eventually getting control of Hong Kong. Consider our societies current “wars on drugs”."

"From Romeo and Juliet - act 5
  Come bitter pilot, now at once run on
  The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!
  Here’s to my love! O true apothecary!
  Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die."

Animal Toxins: substance produced by animals that can cause harmful effect to a human body. 
Here are some examples of animals that produces toxins:

1. Scorpions – Stinger – low toxicity
2. Spider bites
              §Widow spiders -– Neurotoxin
§Brown or Violin -– Tissue Damage
3. Ticks – Neurotoxin – Transmits other diseases


   1. Moths and caterpillars – Irritating to eat
   2. Ants – Proteins, formic acid –    Irritation to allergic response
   3. Honey bees – Proteins – Swelling, allergic response
   4. Wasps – Formic acid

  1.Lizards – Irritating to eat
§Vipers – Rattlesnakes, Water moccasins, Copperheads – Complex enzymes – Tissue necrosis, allergic response, shock
§Elapidae Cobras, Kraits, Coral Snakes – Proteins – Neurotoxin, paralysis

  1.Shellfish (filter-feeding mollusks)
               §Mussels, clams, oysters, scallop2.Jelly fishanemona, coral
  2.Jelly fishanemona, coral
                Sea Snail (cigua) and some fish, oysters and clams
  3.Puffer Fish (fugu, blowfish, toadfish … some frogs, starfish, octopus)
  4.Tuna, shark, sword fish (mercury)

PLANT TOXINS - plants that are capable of producing substance (toxins) that have a harmful effect on the body.
Examples are:

ØDeadly nightshade plant (Atropa belladonna)
ØUsed in the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages both as cure and a poison
ØWomen used preparations to dilate their pupils a sign of allure and beauty
ØAtropine is drug responsible for effects
ØCounteracts the effects of pesticides and chemical warfare agents that act by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase

ØMost dangerous mushrooms are the “death cap” (Amanita phalloides) or the “death angel” (Amanita ocreata).
ØMost susceptible are children less than 10 years of age
ØInitial symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and irregular heart rate
ØAmatoxin, damages the liver cells causing liver and kidney failure and possibly death
ØAmatoxin is very potent: only 0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg of body weight results in death

1. Allergic Dermatitis – Plant Rashes, itchy skin 
§Philodendron, poison ivy, cashew, bulbs of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips (antibody mediated)

2. Allergic Dermatitis – Pollen Sniffles & sneezing, runny eyes
§Ragweed (North America), Mugwort (Europe), grasses (antibody mediated)

3.Contact Dermatitis Oral – Swelling and inflammation of mouth Skin – pain & stinging sensation
§Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)Nettles (Urtica) 

4.Contact Dermatitis Skin – pain & stinging sensation
§Calcium oxalate crystals coated with inflammatory proteins – contain histamine, acetylcholine

vDirect stomach irritation - Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea 
§California buckthorn (sacred bark), tung nut, horse chestnut, pokeweed
vAntimitotic (stops cell division) – Nausea, vomiting, confusion, delirium
§Lily family, glory lily, crocus, may apple
§Colchicine (gout treatment)
vLectin toxicity – nausea, diarrhea, headache, confusion, dehydration, death
§Wisteria, castor bean (Ricinus communis)
§Ricin – block protein synthesis very toxic 5 to 6 beans can kill a child   
1. Digitalis like glycosides – cardiac arrhythmias 
§Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), squill, lily of the valley
§Contain glycosides that are similar to digitalis
2. Heart nerves – decreased heart rate and blood pressure, general weakness
§Lily, hellebore, death camas, heath family, monkshood, rhododendron
§Alkaloids, aconitum, grayanotoxin (concentrated in honey)
3. Blood vessel constriction (vasoconstriction)
§Mistletoe (berries contain toxin)
§Toxin is called phoratoxin
1. Seizures
§Water hemlock, (parsley family), mint family
2. Stimulation – Excitatory Amino Acids – headache, confusion, hallucinations
§Red alga (red tide), Green alga
§Mushrooms– Amanita family (fly agaric), Flat Pea (Lathyrus)
3. Aberrant behavior – very excitable, muscle weakness, death
§Locoweed - Australian & Western U.S. plant  
4. Stimulation
§Coffee bean, tea, cola nut
§Caffeine, most widely consumed stimulant in the world
vNeurotoxic – death
§Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
§Coniine – neurotoxic alkaloid – Poison used by Socrates
vParalysis – demyelination of peripheral nerves
§Buckthorn, coyotillo, tullidora (U.S., Mexico)
vAtropine like effects – dry mouth, dilated pupils, confusion, hallucinations, memory lose
§Solanaceae family – jimsonweed, henbane, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), angles trumpet (atropine and scopolamine) 
vNeuromuscular – mild stimulation to muscle paralysis, respiratory failure (curare), deathCoffee bean, tea, cola nut
§Tobacco – South American – Strychnos family (curare) Blue green alga (anatonin A)
1. “Hepatitis” and cirrhosis of liver - From contaminated grain
§Ragwort or groundsel
§Pyrrolizidine alkaloids – attack liver vessels – effects humans, cattle but some species resistant
2. Liver failure and death
§Mushrooms – “Death cap” (Amanita phalloides)
§Amatoxin and phalloidin effects RNA and protein synthesis
3. Liver cancer
§Fungus that grows on peanuts, walnuts, , etc…plant  
§Alfaltoxins– produced by fungus in poorly stored grain


Monday, June 13, 2011

"IT is Anterior Pituitary Gland"

It may not be as big as its master
But functions importantly,
Useful as it seems
And can be dangerous at times

IT is small and fragile,
Located at this body's head.
IT is famous indeed,
'Cause IT is needed

IT secrete hormones,
each with different function
But what are these?
How can IT be useful?

When body's stressed,
guess what IT releases?
ahhh..IT's ATCH

This body seem to grow well,
Who's in charge?
Oh, I see it's GH

This may not be as important as others,
but useful reproducing,
You got it, it's LSH and FSH

This body seem to be alive
Body's warm, temperature regulated
Oh yeah, meet TSH

Skin as white as snow, 
what a lovely appearance
It seems MSH is in charge

Now the body knows IT all,
an applause for A.P.G!
It's Anterior Pituitary gland
Hooray! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Definiton of Endocrinology, Toxicology and Drug Testing

What is Endocrinology?

Endocrinology came from the Greek words  ἔνδον or endo meaning "within" , κρῑνω or krino meaning "to separate" and -λογία or logia. It deals with the study of the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is composed of hormone producing glands found in different parts of the body and these are responsible in the action some basic functions of the body. Hormones have different mode of action to the body. Regulation of these hormones should be properly maintained. It is a dangerous if there are too much or too less hormones working properly.
There are different parts/glands in the body that are capable of producing hormones. These are as follows:

Endocrinologists are the one who specializes the endocrine system. They are the one that should be consulted if there are any problems regarding the system.

a. Pituitary gland, it secretes hormones that stimulates the adrenals, thyroid, gonads and pigment skin cells.
b. Pancreas - secretes insulin and glucagon for the absorption of glucose.
c. Hypothalamus - supress the release of hormones in pituitary glands.
d. Adrenal cortex - secretes hydrocortisone, androgen, aldosterone for metabolism, blood pressure and saline balance.
e. Thyroid gland - secretes hormone like thyroxine, triiodothyronine and calcitonin that are responsible in metabolism, body heat and bone growth.
f. Gonads - these are the reproductive glands. Testes for male and ovaries for female. The testes of male secretes the hormone testosterone while the ovaries secretes estrogen and progesterone. 
g. Parathyroid glands - mainly affects the calcium level in the blood; secretes parathyroid hormone.

What is Toxicology?

Last semester of our class, we did study about toxicology. It has something to do with the study  of interactions of different chemicals in the body. From the word it self, it may deal with toxic effect of chemicals on the body and in relation, it has something to do with the development and regulatiuon of food additive especially those that are using hazardous 
chemicals. Adverse effects of toxic chemicals are also observed and studied.

Toxicologist are the one who specializes on toxicology. The y investigate and explore how chemicals interact with biological systems by focusing on the adverse effects and outcomes caused by such interactions. Toxic chemicals may be referred to as either toxins. These chemicals are produced by the living systems such as plants and animals. Othe toxic chemicals are called toxicants. It serves as the 
remainder of the toxic chemicals.

The toxicity of  chemical depends upon its movement through the body to the target site or what we called toxicokinetics, the ability to interact with the body to cause harm or toxicodynamics and the dose the body receives or exposure level. It says that both the kinetics and dynamics depend is dependent on biochemical status of the organism such as enzyme levels around the time of exposure, nutritional status, or even stress levels.

What is drug testing?

Drug testing is a way to evaluate the type and possibly the amount of legal or illegal drugs taken by a person. It is not routinely done but some companies requires this test for their employees for security check.

Drug testing can be performed usually through urinalysis or from blood samples, but it can also be checked from small samples taken of your fingernails, saliva or hair. 

Particular amount is taken from the patient for analysis. There are cases that a nurse of medical staff will be guiding the patient to make sure that the sample did indeed come from you. This is specially done to patients who are needed with urine samples.

Drug testing is extremely accurate and reliable when all aspects of the testing process are done properly. There are reasons why this test is requested but in general it is used to check for illegal drug use by employees (before an offer of employment is made and randomly at any time after hire). A drug test can also be used to evaluate possible accidental or intentional overdose or poisonings, to monitor compliance with a drug rehabilitation program, and to determine the presence or absence of drugs for medical and or legal purposes.

Detection of other drugs and alcohols are tested. Commonly tested for chemicals are cocaine, amphetamines and heroin.