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Fatal colchicine intoxication by ingestion of Gloriosa superba tubers
  1. Karthik Gunasekaran1,
  2. Divya Elizabeth Mathew1,
  3. Thomas Isaiah Sudarsan2 and
  4. Ramya Iyyadurai1
  1. 1 General Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India
  2. 2 Division of Critical Care, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Karthik Gunasekaran, karthikgunasekaran{at}


Gloriosa superba is an ornamental herb, wildly found in the tropics especially in the southern parts of India and Sri Lanka. All parts of the plants are toxic, especially the tuberous rhizomes in view of their high content of colchicines and its derivatives. We report a case of fatal ingestion of the tubers of G. superba, with an intention of deliberate self harm, leading to systemic coagulopathy and progressive multiple organ dysfunctions. The patient was managed with intralipid rescue therapy, plasmapheresis, haemodialysis and intensive care. The ease of availability makes plant poisons, a common method of deliberate self-harm in South India. This report reiterates the need for clinician’s awareness of common toxidromes associated with plant poisons.

  • poisoning
  • toxicology

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  • Contributors KG: conception, design, drafting the article, revising it critically for important intellectual content and final approval of the version published. DEM, TIS and RI: conception, design, drafting the article and revising it critically for important intellectual content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Next of kin consent obtained.