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A meticulously planned poisoning in White Oleander by Janet Fitch published in 1999 is the case study for this chapter. After being spurned by her lover Barry, Ingrid brews up a deadly concoction of oleander, jimsonweed (Datura) and belladonna (Chapter 4) in the solvent DMSO. Barry touches the poison (the DMSO making it extra sticky), and it passes through his skin into the blood and he dies, apparently from cardiac arrest. Ingrid denies the murder but is caught and imprisoned. Although we find out little in the novel about his death, this toxic trio of plants is more than capable of having caused it. The cardiac glycosides in oleander act in a similar way to digoxin (Chapter 6), so much so that oleander-poisoned patients arriving at hospital are sometimes misdiagnosed with digitalis poisoning. Datura is known more for its hallucinogenic properties, and toxicologists are most likely to come across teenagers drinking or smoking it recreationally. We will also bust an urban myth that using oleander sticks to roast hotdogs on a campfire can be fatal.

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