Hospitals receive a number of patients who consume the leaves or fruits of this plant

‘Vadisaku’ (Oduvanthalai in Tamil) is a common plant that is consumed by those with a suicidal tendency, and is considered highly detrimental by the medical fraternity for more reasons than one.

Hospitals in the region receive quite a good number of patients having consumed the leaves or fruits of this plant (‘cleistanthus collinus’ in botanical parlance) and battling for life with affected kidney, heart and lungs. However, little medical data is available on this plant that commonly grows in southern Andhra Pradesh, northern Tamil Nadu and eastern Karnataka. The doctors take up treatment going by the symptomatic factors, as the dreaded toxic leaf does not even have a known antidote.

A study conducted by Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) found the plant to have caused high mortality rate in rural areas of the region, mostly for suicidal bid --while accidental consumption is rare.

When a sample size of 50 ‘very sick’ patients was taken for the study, 42 per cent suffered from acute kidney injury, 32 per cent from metabolic acidosis, 32 per cent from respiratory failure, 22 per cent from shock (failing to give a pulse or blood pressure reading) and 16 per cent from neuromuscular weakness (similar to paralysis), with some patients showing a combination of symptoms.

“While similar studies were conducted during the last two decades by CMC Vellore and JIPMER Pondicherry, our study stood out by developing a prediction rule, correlating the time lag between consumption and casualty, presence/absence of shock and monitoring of certain vital parameters (critical illness scoring system) commonly known as APACHE II,” says Dr.Alladi Mohan, head of Medicine at SVIMS and a co-author of the study.

A presentation, ‘Clinical predictions of the outcome in patients with cleistanthus collinus (Vadisaku) poisoning’ made by G. Sivaram Naik, a third year M.D. student at the Andhra Pradesh Association of Physicians of India Conference (AP-APICON) held recently at Kurnool Medical College, won the ‘S.L.Narayana Murthy memorial award’.