Saturday, June 08, 2013

Factoid of the day

The newest bimbo scare is that an actress sent ricin the president, and then called the FBI saying her husband did it.

Well, that's one way to get revenge.

As a doc, I was aware of the danger of these seeds, which can be poisonous if you have jewelry made from it...
It is surprising how little many parents know about the danger of castor beans and others such as jequirity beans and fava beans. You can go to many markets and buy cheap necklaces with these beans (rosary beads, etc). Of course, they are not harmful unless consumed. However, one such be aware, since children can easily pull beans off and ingest them. Adults should also be careful, as sometimes we unknowingly put objects in our mouths as well. I've seen a few people unawaringly "sucking" on their castor bean necklaces. The problem here is if any of the seed coatings on the beans are damaged.

But the plant has a long history of being used for oil and food: 
castor oil has been used as a lubricant and medicine since the days of ancient Egypt, and after pressing out the oil, the seed left behind can be used as fodder for animals.

So why isn't the oil poisonous (but the dried seed used for jewelry can be poisonous?)

Heating during the oil extraction process denatures and inactivates the protein. However, harvesting castor beans may not be without risk.[7]

So where do you get castor bean seeds? From Amazon. And why would you want to grow it?

The Castor Bean plant is a natural mole repellant.

and their oil can be used as a petroleum substitute for nylon...

 The oil extracted from the castor bean already has a growing international market, assured by more than 700 uses, ranging from medicines and cosmetics to replacing petroleum in plastics and lubricants.

Nylon 11, which is produced from castor beans, is produced from a sustainable resource, similar to PLA resin and the cellulosic materials, but it is not biodegradable. Furthermore, nylon 11 is significantly more durable and less hydrophilic than the standard synthetic nylons. The most common nylon, nylon 6 has six carbons in the basic building block unit, and at the end of each carbon chain, there is a water-loving end group. These water-loving end groups result in poor hydraulic properties, but nylon 11 has 11 carbons in its basic building block and thus about half as many water-loving end groups providing a product with better hydraulic properties. In fact, nylon 11 has long been used in underwater cable insulation applications.
and no, the castor bean was not the "poisonous berries" of the Hunger Games (it takes a day or two to kill someone). That poison berry was the more common deadly night shade (which takes a few hours to kill, but hey it's a movie.)

more about that deadly herb, from which we get the drug atropine, here.

No comments: