Table of Contents

2017 Month : April Volume : 2 Issue : 2 Page : 22-23


Mohd. Kaleem Khan1, Abhishek Kumar Varshney2

1Assistant Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, J. N. Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.
2Assistant Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, TMMC-RC, TMU, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Corresponding Author:
Dr. Mohd. Kaleem Khan,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Forensic Medicine,
J. N. Medical College,
Aligarh Muslim University,
Aligarh-202002, Uttar Pradesh, India.



Jatropha curcas poisoning mainly through ingestion is becoming common now-a-days in countries like India, as there is global thrust for production of Jatropha oil as an alternate fuel, i.e. biodiesel. Rampant farming of the plant is posing threat to humans for accidental poisoning. It produces the symptom of burning sensation in the mouth and throat followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, later dehydration and shock may lead to collapse of the patient. Most affected are children, as they are attracted by taste of fruits. Here, we present a case series of twelve children who ate Jatropha fruits and landed with above-mentioned signs and symptoms.


Jatropha curcas, biodiesel, crucin, poisoning.

How to cite this article

Khan MK, Varshney AK. Jatropha curcas poisoning in North India - a case series. Journal of Research in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology 2016; Vol. 2, Issue 2, July-December 2016; Page:22-23.


Poisoning by eating fruits and seeds of Jatropha in children is not very often reported in Northern India. The plant often attracts children for its yellow fruits and sweet taste, though all parts of the plant are poisonous. Jatropha belongs to Euphorbiaceae family and is most widely available species.[1] Different regions have different names for Jatropha, in India the various local names are bagbherenda, jangli arandi and safed arand.[2] J. Caracas has been used in traditional human medicine and for veterinary medicine for over a long period of time (Duke, 1985).[3] In the past decade, interest in Jatropha seed oil for biodiesel production has propelled large scale J. Caracas plantations across Asia, Africa and South American countries.[4]

The plant is about 2 - 3 metre tall and has heart-shaped green leaves (Fig. 1). The flower is small and white in colour and the fruits are initially green and yellow to brown on ripening. Fruit contains black seeds, which are often 2 - 3 in number and oval in shape. The seed contains kernels and shells, kernel contain high protein (22% - 28%) and oil (54% - 58%).[5] Almost all parts of the plant are toxic including kernel, leaves, flowers, roots, buds and wood. It contains terpenes, lignans, alkaloids and cyclic peptides. Diterpenes derived from the plants has various activities like tumour promoting, anti-inflammatory, irritant, cytotoxic, anti-tumour, molluscicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal activities.[6]

On ingestion and the symptom starts with burning sensation in the mouth and throat followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, later dehydration and shock may lead to collapse of the patient.

Case Series

We report cases of Jatropha poisoning presented to the J. N. Medical Hospital, Aligarh emergency with episodes of vomiting, diarrhoea and pain in the abdomen.

There were twelve children and all of them were having similar symptoms. Immediately, they were transferred to the Paediatric Emergency Unit and the Forensic Medicine Unit was called upon for the medico-legal evaluation.

During evolution, it was revealed that children were between 6 - 11 years of age, of which 2 were girls, consumed a green coloured fruit from a plant from their locality following which vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain started. All the twelve patients were having signs and symptoms of dehydration, right from increased pulse rate, decreased blood pressure, cold extremities, sunken eye and dry tongue.

Fruit was brought by the parents with them and on inspection it was found to be of Jatropha (fig. 2). Further on investigation, none of the parameters were found deranged including renal and liver functions. The patients were managed with IV fluids and symptomatically and were discharged later without any further event.

Figure 1. J. Curcas Fruits with Leaves

Figure 2. J. Curcas Fruits with Seeds (cut Section)



J. curcas is now-a-days cultivated in different areas of the world for its usefulness as biodiesel. It is mostly cultivated in South America, Africa and South East Asia. Its prevalence in urban area is not very well documented, but its availability as a wild shrub is not ruled out.[4]

The Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), a Government-owned Industrial Research Institute, is aiming to cultivate Jatropha plant for the production of biodiesel.[7] Despite its medicinal uses, the plant is harmful due to presence of toxalbumin called curcin, and cyanic acid.[8] Though all parts of the plant are poisonous, seeds have the highest concentration of curinoliec acid content and thus very poisonous.[9] The adverse effects following consumption of seeds include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and burning sensation in the throat. Vomiting and diarrhoea can set in within fifteen minutes of consumption. Acute abdominal pain is experienced about half an hour after the ingestion of the seeds. Circulatory collapse has also been reported and is said to be common in children.[10]

The Jatropha poisoning may be confused with organophosphorous poisoning, so it could be differentiated systematically and measuring acetyl cholinesterase levels in the plasma. The combination of vomiting, diarrhoea and meiosis resembles the clinical presentation of organophosphorous poisoning, which is one important differential diagnosis (Koltin et al).[11]

Various case reports have been published from Central and South India including the toxicity or poisoning of Jatropha species in humans is purely due to accidental consumption of seeds.[12,13] Toxicity or poisoning of the Jatropha species in human is purely due to accidental consumption of seeds. Most of the reports show the children are involved and most of the incidents were accidental in nature, but no fatality has been reported by J. curcas poisoning.



  • J. curcas is a potentially toxic plant found as a shrub may be found in urban localities.
  • Children are often susceptible to toxicity due to accidental ingestion of fruit and seeds.
  • Most of the patients are managed conservatively.
  • No fatality has been reported so far.



  • J. curcas has been looked upon as an important source of biodiesel, so its cultivation should have proper regulations and guidelines.
  • Proper cultivation and disposal guideline should be laid down as its kernel may pare threat to toxicity to animal and human.
  • Children should be made aware of the plant and its toxicity.
  • Civic authorities should come up with proper guidelines and regular check of J. curcas growth in urban surroundings.


  1. Wurdack KJ, Hoffmann P, Chase MW. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of uniovulate euphorbiaceae (euphorbiaceae sensu stricto) using plastid RBCL and TRNL-F DNA sequences. Am J Bot 2005;92(8):1397-1420.
  2. Barceloux DG. Medical toxicology of natural substances: foods, fungi, medicinal herbs, plants, and venomous animals. Wiley Online 2008:829–31.
  3. Duke JA. Medicinal plants. Science 1985;229(4718):1036.
  4. Carels N, Sujatha N, Jatropha BB. Challenges for a new energy crop: Vol 1, farming, economics and biofuels. Springer 2012:443.
  5. Makkar HPS, Aderibigbe AO, Becker K. Comparative evaluation of non-toxic and toxic variety of jatropha curcas for chemical composition, digestibility, protein degradability and toxic factors. Food Chem 1998;62(2):207-15.
  6. Raheman H. Jatropha. In: Chittaranjan K, Joshi CP, Shonnard DR, (eds). Handbook of bioenergy crop plants. Chapter 14, CRC Press, Taylord & Francis Group 2012.
  7. Singh S, Mehta RS. Environment-jatropha biodiesel. Autocar India 2005;7:169-75.
  8. Adolf W, Opferkuch HJ, Hecker E. Irritant phorbol derivatives from four jatropha species. Phytochem 1984;23(1):129-32.
  9. Begg J, Gaskin T. Jatropha curcas L. In: Ipcs Inchem (ed) Poisons information monographs 1994 (PIM 570). [accessed 15.08.2008].
  10. Shah V, Sanmukhani J. Five cases of jatropha curcas poisoning. JAPI 2010;58:243-44.
  11. Koltin D, Uziel Y, Schneidermann D, et al. A case of jatropha multifida poisoning resembling organophosphate intoxication. Clin Toxicol Phila 2006;44(3):337-8.
  12. Levin Y, Sherer Y, Bibi H, et al. Rare jatropha multifida intoxication in two children. J Emerg Med 2000;19(2):               173-5.
  13. Rai DK, Lakhanpal P. Jatropha curcas poisoning in pediatric patients, mauritius. Internet J Pediatrics Neonatol 2008;8(2):1-6.

Videos :


Download Download [ PDF ] Download[ ABSTRACT ] Email Send to a friend