Ricin Toxin

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Science Edition; BIOSIS Previews, EBSCO.

`Ricin Toxin’ brings together a collection of in depth and cutting edge reviews that focus on the current understanding of ricin toxins. This e-book provides a historical background, innovations in ...
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Ricin - From Pharaohs to Bioterrorists and Beyond

Pp. 3-37 (35)

Martha L. Hale


From the time Pharaohs first presided during the dawn of civilization until the present day, the castor bean plant, Ricinus communis, and its seeds have played a significant role in the advancement of science, industry, and war. From ancient times, the seeds have been a valuable source of oil used for light and medicinal purposes. Also co-existing in the seed is a toxin (ricin) that has been used in beneficial, and sometimes iniquitous, ways. This chapter provides a review of the history of ricin use (with background information on its source the castor plant and its seeds) that shows the impact that Ricinus communis has had upon many facets of civilization.


Ricinus communis history, castor beans, castor oil, beneficial uses, bioterrorism, biocrime.


Integrated Toxicology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1425 Porter Street, Fort Detrick, Maryland 21702, USA