Herbs and native medicines have been used to commit murder for thousands of years. They are attractive since they may not be detected by common screening toxicology tests or may cause what appears to be death by natural causes.


When to consider the possibility of homicide by herbal or native poison:

(1) a person who has been placed under a curse by witch doctor or other native practitioner

(2) a person in conflict with someone from a native culture

(3) a person who dies suddenly of an unexplained organ failure

(4) a person who dies suddenly of hypoglycemia

(5) a person who dies after the onset of an unexplained neurologic syndrome

(6) anyone who dies under suspicious circumstances for whom no adequate explanation can be provided


There are numerous toxins to consider, including:

(1) heavy metals

(2) cardiac glycosides (present in many plants such as white oleander)

(3) toxic mushrooms

(4) strychnine

(5) colchicine

(6) atropine, hyoscyamine or scopolamine prepared from seeds

(7) tropane alkaloids

(8) opium

(9) curare

(10) hypoglycin (from ackee)


If the victim or suspected perpetrator are from a native culture, then the toxins common to that culture should be considered.


An oral poison may be introduced in food, drink or sweets. The vehicle may be selected to mask the poison's taste.


The body should be inspected for possible injection sites or puncture marks.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.