Aconite killer convicted

February 11, 2010, 2:21 am

TimesOnline reports today that Lakvir Kaur Singh, the so-called currry killer, has been convicted in a London court of murdering her lover, Lakhvider Cheema.  According to the report, Ms. Singh –enraged that Mr. Cheema had declared his intention of marrying a younger woman — laced both their curry dinners with Indian aconite (Aconitum ferox). Within an hour of eating the meal, Mr. Cheema had lost his vision and complained of weakness and paralysis.  A video which accompanies the TimesOnline report shows him being carried to a car to be transported to hospital.  He died of cardiac arrest shortly after arriving in the emergency department.  The younger woman survived.

As TPR noted in a previous post, aconite is among the oldest known poisons, and was described in the Rig Veda — a sacred ancient Indian test dating back to the 12th century B.C.  It has been called the “queen mother of poisons”.  Aconite opens sodium channels and has a muscarinic effect on the vagus nerve.  According to Medical Toxicology (Dart RC et al, eds):

“Symptoms of aconite poisoning develop quickly, usually within 10 to 20 minutes.  Initially, patients complain of a tingling or burning sensation in the fingers and toes.  The patient then develops sweats and chills, generalized paresthesias dry mouth, numbness, and a feeling of intense cold.  Late symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, skeletal muscle paralysis, cardiac dysrhythmias, and intense pain.  Death typically results from ventricular dysrhythmias or respiratory paralysis within 1 to 6 hours after ingestion . . . Miosis [has] also been reported.”  The miosis was most likely responsible for the decreased vision that Mr. Cheema complained of.

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