Asphyxiants - homeopathy360



In purest form it is gas, anhydrous, colorless and highly volatile liquid.


  1. Calcium and magnesium cyanide are used to fumigate ships and houses.
  2. Ca (CN)2 used in mining industry.
  3. Cyanogen chloride – insecticide.
  4. KCN – electroplating and photography.
  5. Sodium and potassium cyanide – in analytical and chemical laboratory.

Medico-legal Importance

  1. Suicide – Used by suicide squads
  2. Homicidal
  3. Accidental

Fatal Dose

  1. HCN : 40 mg in liquid form
  2. Sodium cyanide: 150 mg
  3. Potassium cyanide: 200-500mg

Fatal Period
Cyanide: 2-10 min

Signs and Symptoms

i.  When HCN used

  1. Strong smell of bitter almond.
  2. Confusion, anxiety, hyperapnoea and giddiness. c. Respiration is irregular, rapid and tortuous.
  3. Convulsion may occur due to hypoxia.
  4. Tonic spasm and lock jaw.
  5. Cyanosis.
  6. Foam around mouth.
  7. Relaxation of sphincter.
  8. Death is due to respiratory failure.

ii.  Cyanide used

  1. Bitter burning sensation in mouth.
  2. Constriction around the throat.
  3. Salivation giddiness, nausea, headache, confusion, sense of oppression in chest and insensitivity.
  4. Face suffused, bloated and mouth covered with froth.
  5. Cyanide cry – spasmodic, piercing cry seen in case of animals not in human being.

The action of Cyanide is quick and therefore no time for treatment.

Post-mortem Findings

  1. Stomach: Typical pungent smell of bitter almond smell.
  2. Viscera are congested.


Physical Properties
Heavy, colourless and odorless gas.

In the form of ‘Dry Ice’ – used as commercial refrigerant.

Fatal Dose : 60-80% concentrated is considered lethal.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Throbbing headache, heaviness with throbbing of temporal arteries and giddiness.
  2. Ringing of ear, a sense of apprehension and muscular weakness.
  3. Impairment of concentration and memory.
  4. Areflexia, insensibility and ultimately to coma.
  5. Death from respiratory failure.

First of all move the victim to fresh air and oxygen under positive pressure should be administered.

Post-mortem Findings

  1. Body heat is retained for a long period.
  2. Pupils are dilated.
  3. Patchy areas like ecchymotic spots seen over small intestine.


Light, colourless, odourless gas, with garlicky odour. CO mixed with Cl2 (carbonyl chloride) to form ‘Phosgene’ which is known as Wargas.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Inhalation causes weakness and dizziness leading to death.
  2. Dilute form ® Tightness of forehead, dizziness, emotional instability, confusion, throbbing headache and noise in ear.
  3. Nausea and vomiting.
  4. Dimness of vision and dilated pupil.
  5. Death


  1. Remove from the place immediately
  2. Immediate administration of a mixture of oxygen, 95% and carbon dioxide 5% by positive pressure is recommended.

Post-mortem Finding

Cherry red colouration of post-mortem staining.

Medico-legal Importance

  1. Accidental
  2. Suicidal
  3. Homicidal

Reference: A Handbook of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology by Dr Madona Joseph & Dr Harpreet Kaur

About the author

Dr Purnima Rani

Dr Purnima Rani, M.D. (Hom.) in Repertory from Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra and completed her B.H.M.S. from Nehru Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, having clinical experience of 4+ years.