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By Dr. Joseph M Nguta, PhD, (Pharmacol &Toxicol)
 Compounds produced or absorbed by plants could
mediate toxicity in livestock.
 Phytochemical composition in influenced by, among
 Climate
 Season
 Amount of rainfall
 Fertilization
 Stage of growth
 Ecological zone
 Availability of water
 Part of the plant in question
 Factors influencing occurrence of poisoning in
livestock include:
 Potential of the given plant/part to contain poisonous
 Amount of free toxic principle in the plant before
 Size and kind of livestock species involved
 Speed of ingestion
 Speed of release of the toxic principle during ingestion
 Ingesta present in the digestive tract
 Degree of wetness of the ingesta
 Speed of detoxification
 Rate of elimination
 Amount of calcium in the diet….especially with oxalate
(A). Poisonous principles
 Included are:
 Alkaloids
 Polypeptides
 Amines
 Oxalates
 Resins or resinoids
 Phytotoxins (Toxalbumins)
Poisonous principles…
 Glycosides (glucosides)
 i).Cyanogenetic (nitrile) glycosides
ii). Goitrogenic substances
iii). Irritant oils
iv). Coumarin glycosides
v). Steroid and triterpenoid glycosides
vi).Cardiac glycosides
vii). Saponins
Poisonous principles….
 Mineral poisonings… (Copper, lead, cadmium,
fluorine, manganese)
 I. Nitrogen
 i). Nitrites-nitrates
 ii).Nitrosos
 ii).Gaseous oxides of nitrogen
 Selenium
 Molybdenum
Poisonous principles…
 Compounds causing photosensitivity
 i). Primary photosensitization
 ii). Hepatogenic photosensitization
 Fungicidal toxin: Persin
Poisonous principles…
 A number of species of plants contain a toxic
substance unique to each e.g. hydroquinone in
xanthium species.
 Other poisonings are due to anti-factors e.g
Thiaminase in Pteridium aquilinum (Brackern fern).
 Some spp. Contain two or more toxic principles….in
different classes…
Poisonous principles…
 e.g. a liver toxin and potentially toxic nitrate levels in
Tribulus terrestris
 Some toxic principles share concurrent membership in
many classes e.g. solanine found in species of Solanum
(nightshades, etc.)……a glycoside; an alkaloid; steroid
glycoside; saponin……due to its physical
Specific plant poisoning
 Alkaloids (Nicotiana (tobacco); Atropa belladona
(Deadly night shade); Datura stramonium (Jimson
weed); Crotolaria spp. (Rattlebox); Senecio spp.
(Senecio); Solanum type….tomatoes; potato;
 Alkali like, insoluble in water, bitter in taste..
 Distributed in all plant parts
 Detection: chromatography; electrophoresis
 Mainly produce CNS signs….
 Some types of alkaloids, however, produce completely
different syndromes e.g. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids cause
severe liver damage.
 Git related signs with some nightshades
 The poisonous principle of Astragulus has been stated
to be of alkaloidal nature. Some members of this genus
are selenium accumulators. Others are responsible for
the nervous disease of horses, sheep and cattle called,
Polypeptides and amines
 Certain algae e.g. Microcystis, a blue green algae, fungi
e.g. Amanita, a mushroom, and higher plants e.g.
Blighia sapida, akee, contain toxic peptides.
 Phoradendron flavescens contain amines
(Phenylethylamine, tyramine) which are credited with
toxic action.
 Ergot (Claviceps) alkaloids are accompanied with
amines which may be partially responsible for the
 Toxic glycosides include: cyanogenetic (nitrile)
glycosides, goitrogenic substances, irritant oils,
coumarin glycosides and steroid (cardiac and saponic)
 The amount of a particular glycoside elaborated in a
plant depends not only on intrinsic factors such as
genetics, part of plant, age of plant, and sometimes
even sex of plant, but also to a large degree on extrinsic
factors such as climate, moisture supply and soil
(a).Cyanogenetic (nitrile)
 E.g. Cassava; common bean; sorghum; maize;
 Yield HCH on hydrolysis
 Effect of wilting on HCH release
 Ruminant animals…highly susceptible (role of ruminal
microflora and pH)
 MoA
 Mgt strategies..role of sodium nitrite and sodium
 Detoxicfication
 In gross aspect, symptoms of cyanide poisoning
consist primarily of: early stimulation of respiration;
rapidly changing to dyspnea; excitement; gasping;
staggering; paralysis; prostration; convulsions; coma
and death.
 The mucous membranes of mouth and eye may
present evidence of congestion
 Detection: Picrate test for cyanide…color change from
yellow to red…
(b). Goitrogenic substances
 E.g. Brassica family…cabbages, kale, soybean, rape
 Contain thiocyanates & thiooxazolidone…goitrogenic
 In the case of poultry, a residual goitrogenic effect may
be utilized constructively to produce slightly heavier
birds on less feed.
(c). Irritant oils
 Contain isothiocyanates…..mainly.. allyl isothiocyanate
and 3-butenyl isothiocyanate; and also
protoanemonine….from ranunculin
 E.g. horseradish; White mustard….
(d). Coumarin glycosides
 E.g. The sweetclovers (Melitotus alba, and
 Interfere with clotting by reducing prothrobin
(e). Steroid glycosides and
triterpenoid glycosides
 Consists of cardioactive glycosides (N.oleander &
Thevetia peruviana; Digitallis spp.) and
noncardioactive (sapogenic glycosides)….alfafa, rattle
 MoA: Saponins
 Absorption
 E.g. Ricin from castor bean;…cytotoxic..are proteolytic:
poisoning is associated with breakdown critical
natural proteins and accumulation of ammonia
 Ricinus communis agglutinin….aggglutination of rbcs
 Poisoning is due to ricin, since RCA cannot penetrate
the intestinal wall…
 Detected by precipitin reactions with sera containing
known antibodies
Compounds causing
 Primary photosensitization: Hypericum perforatum
(St. Johns Wort) or fagopyrin from Fagopyrum
esculentum (Buckwheat).
 Secondary photosensitization: Lantana camara
 Role of phylloerythrin
 Many crop plants (especially oat hay, corn and
sorghum), vegetables and weeds (especially of the
amaranth (Amaranthaceae), goosefoot
(Chenopodiaceae), mustard (Cruciferae) composite
(Compositae) and nightshade (Solanaceae) families
contain nitrates at a potentially toxic level.
 Role of 2,4-D
 Detection: diphenylamine test….blue color dev.
Poisonous plants containing
 Some plants are known to concentrate sodium
fluoroacetate, one of the most poisonous substances
 In Kenya, Dichapetalum cymosum is found in the
coastal region, where it is known as “ludi” locally. A
few leaves are capable of killing a big bull
 Rumex spp.
 Forms of oxalate
 Susceptibility: ruminants vs. nonruminants
 Absorption:
 Deposition in renal tubules…hematuria and renal
Fungicidal toxin: Persin
 From ovacado.. fruit, leaves, stems, and seeds
 Associated with myocardial necrosis in mammals and
birds and with mastitis in lactating mammals
 Avocado causes necrosis and hemorrhage of mammary
gland epithelium of lactating mammals and
myocardial necrosis in birds and mammals. Persin
isolated from avocado leaves has caused lesions similar
to those reported in natural cases.
 NSAID and analgesics may benefit animals with
mastitis. Treatment for congestive heart failure (eg,
diuretics, antiarrhythmic drugs) may be of benefit, but
may not be economically feasible in livestock
Brainy quote………..
 Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than
unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not;
unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will
not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence
and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan
'Press On' has solved and always will solve the
problems of the human race.
 Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 - 1933)
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