Biologically active carbamates have been used as far back as the 17th century in the old Calabar region of southeast Nigeria. The Effiks who inhabited the area used to collect the coffee-colored Calabar beans of a plant later named Physostigma venenosum. The crushed bean called esere . by the natives was used as a poison ordeal to establish the guilt of a prisoner. The accused to be judged was forced to swallow the milky potion of crushed Calabar bean seeds in a small quantity of water. If the prisoner was fortunate enough to regurgitate the “milk” and survive he was declared innocent, but if he developed shakes, froth at the mouth, and quickly died he was declared guilty.
KeywordsAcetylcholine Atropine Nigeria Oxime Cholinesterase
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