Forensic Relevance of The Suicide Tree “Cerebra Odollam”

Cerbera odollam is a powerful toxic plant that is responsible both for suicide and homicide. The seeds are excessively toxic, containing cerberin as the main active cardenolide. Cerberin is difficult to detect in autopsies and its taste can be masked with strong spices. Therefore it is often used in homicide and suicide especially in India.

cerebra-odollamPathologists would not be able to identify Cerbera poisoning unless there is evidence the victim had eaten the plant. In this article we want to highlight the recent incidence of poisoning, present analytical techniques used as well the recent advances in identification of the cereberin toxin.

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