Wednesday, 1 March 2017

10 World's Deadliest Poisons Used To Kill People

World's Deadliest Poisons

I know it may seem like I'm helping a lot of killers out there 'up their game' with this post, but my motives are simply scientific.☺ In biology, poisons are substances that cause disturbances in organisms, usually by chemical reaction or other activity on the molecular scale, when an organism absorbs a sufficient quantity. Poisons are definitely among fiction’s greatest weapons. Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes seem to have developed our interest in untraceable, fast-acting poisons. In case you do not know who Sherlock Holmes is, then a big part of your life is missing. However, murder mystery and solving crimes are one thing, but when the story becomes reality, you have got yourself a real killer!

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Thousands of chemical compounds exist in the world today which are toxic to man, I'd say there are only a handful of things that you ingest, inhale or simply come in contact with that won't kill you. Here's a list of the deadliest poisons used to kill people.

10. Hemlock

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Hemlock or Conium is a highly toxic flowering plant indigenous to Europe and South Africa. It was a popular one with the ancient Greeks, who used it to kill off their prisoners. For an adult, the ingestion of 100mg of conium or about 8 leaves of the plant is fatal – death comes in the form of paralysis, your mind is wide awake, but your body doesn’t respond and eventually the respiratory system shuts down. Probably the most famous hemlock poisoning is that of the Greek philosopher, Socrates.

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Condemned to death for impiety in 399 BC, he was given a very concentrated infusion of hemlock. Hmm... Really tragic.

9. Aconite

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Aconite comes from the plant monkshood. Lovers of the Vampire Diaries Tv series (like myself) will be thrilled to know that this plant is also known as Wolfsbane. Aconite leaves only one post-mortem sign, that of asphyxia, as it causes arrhythmic heart function which leads to suffocation. Poisoning can occur even after touching the leaves of the plant without wearing gloves as it is very rapidly and easily absorbed.

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Because of its untraceable nature, it has been a popular one with the “get away with murder” crowd. Reportedly, it has a particularly famous casualty. Emperor Claudius is said to have been poisoned by his wife, Agrippina, using aconite in a plate of mushrooms. Well, obviously, if you're planning on killing a werewolf anytime soon, be sure to pack a lot of Wolfsbane.

8. Belladonna

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This was a favourite of the ladies! The name of this plant is Italian and means 'beautiful woman'. That’s because it was used in the middle-ages for cosmetic purposes – diluted eye-drops dilated the pupils, making the women more seductive (or so they thought). Also, if gently rubbed on their checks, it would create a reddish colour, what today would be known as a blush! This plant seems innocent enough, right?

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Well, actually, if ingested, a single leaf is lethal and that’s why it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The berries of this plant are the most dangerous – consumption of ten of the attractive-looking berries is fatal.

7. Dimethylmercury

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This one is a slow killer – a man-made slow killer! But this is exactly what makes it all the more dangerous. Absorption of doses as low as 0.1ml have proven fatal; however, symptoms of poisoning start showing after months of initial exposure, which is definitely too late for any kind of treatment.

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In 1996, a chemistry professor at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, spilled a drop or two of the poison on her gloved hand – dimethylmercury went through the latex glove, symptoms appeared four months later and ten months later, she died.

6. Tetrodotoxin

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This substance is found in two marine creatures – the blue-ringed octopus and the puffer fish. However, the octopus is the most dangerous, because it purposely injects its venom, killing in minutes. It carries enough venom to kill 26 human adults within minutes and the bites are often painless, so many victims realise they have been bitten only when paralysis sets in.

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On the other hand, the puffer fish is only lethal if you want to eat it, but if it is well prepared, meaning the venom is taken out, the only thing that’s left is the adrenaline of eating something which could kill you.

5. Polonium

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Polonium is a radioactive poison, a slow killer with no cure. One gramme of vaporised polonium can kill about 1.5 million people in just a couple of months. The most famous case of polonium poisoning is that of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

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Polonium was found in his tea cup – a dose 200 times higher than the median lethal dose in case of ingestion. He died in three weeks.

4. Mercury

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There are three forms of mercury which are extremely dangerous. Elemental mercury is the one you can find in glass thermometers, it’s not harmful if touched, but lethal if inhaled. Inorganic mercury is used to make batteries and is deadly only when ingested.

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And finally, organic mercury is found in fish, such as tuna and swordfish (consumption should be limited to 170g per week), but can be potentially deadly over long periods of time. A famous death caused by mercury is that of Amadeus Mozart, who was given mercury pills to treat his syphilis.

3. Cyanide

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Now here’s one right out of an Agatha Christie novel. Cyanide seems to be extremely popular (spies use cyanide pills to kill themselves when caught) and there are plenty of reasons for this. Firstly, it is found in a great variety of substances like almonds, apple seeds, apricot kernel, tobacco smoke, insecticides, pesticides and the list goes on. Murder, in this case, can be blamed on a household accident, such as ingestion of pesticide – a fatal dose of cyanide for humans is 1.5 mg per kilogramme of body weight. Secondly, it’s a rapid killer: depending on the dose, death occurs within 1 to 15 minutes.

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Also, in its gaseous form – hydrogen cyanide – it was the agent used by Nazi Germany for mass murders in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

If you're a fan of the TV series Limitless, then you probably must have heard them say Cyanide is basically untraceable in the victim's body. This compound is a known inhibitor of the Electron Transport Chain and oxidative phosphorylation, thereby preventing ATP synthesis.

2. Botulinum Toxin

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If you’re watching Sherlock Holmes, then you’ll know about this one. The Botulinum toxin causes Botulism, a fatal condition if not treated immediately. It involves muscle paralysis, eventually leading to the paralysis of the respiratory system and, consequently, death.

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The bacteria enter the body through open wounds or by ingesting contaminated food. By the way, botulinum toxin is the same stuff used for Botox injections especially in the treatment of Excessive sweating disorders!

1. Arsenic

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Arsenic has been called “The King of Poisons”, for its discreetness and potency – it was virtually undetectable, so it was very often used either as a murder weapon or as a mystery story element. But that’s until the Marsh test came and signalled the presence of this poison in water, food and the like.

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However, this king of poisons has taken many famous lives: Napoleon Bonaparte, George the 3rd of England and Simon Bolivar to name a few. On another note, arsenic, like belladonna, was used by the Victorians for cosmetic reasons. A couple of drops of the stuff made a woman’s complexion white and pale. Just perfect! From basic Biochemistry, I know (that means that you should also know) that Arsenic kills by competing with Phosphoric acid in the Glycolytic pathway. It is actually a competitive inhibitor that displaces phosphate from 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate forming 1-Arseno-3-phosphoglycerate which is a very unstable compound. Cutting the long story short, you die.

Okay, there you have it, 10 World's Deadliest Poisons you will ever come across.Thanks for reading, in case you wanted to use a lesser toxic poison to kill someone before, now you know better. Please endeavour to share this with your friends using the share widgets and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest updates directly to your Email. Oh! Don't be shy, share your opinion in the comments below.


  1. These naturally occurring poisons are way too dangerous.One should not take it easy if he or she finds it some where. Btw thanks for telling us about these venom's.

  2. Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks Sprayer for sanitization