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September 20, 1919

"DEATH FROM RHUBARB LEAVES DUE TO OXALIC ACID POISONING"

JAMA. 1919;73(12):928-929. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610380054023

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Abstract

To the Editor:  —The case of death after eating rhubarb leaves (The Journal, Aug. 23, 1919, p. 627) deserves, I think, some further discussion. It seems to be established that oxalic acid is one of the most active of the acids. It is generally stated in the textbooks that, unlike the other corrosive acids, such mild alkalis as potassium acid carbonate (saleratus) or sodium acid carbonate (baking soda) cannot be used as antidotes, as the oxalates of these metals are almost as poisonous as the free acid. They are, however, not likely to be as corrosive. Oxalic acid is apparently a very frequent product of both animal and vegetable metabolism. It is almost always found in the form of an oxalate, generally calcium oxalate. This is an almost constant constituent of urinary sediments, and very frequent in leaf and root tissues. In the latter it generally occurs as bundles of

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