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June 1989

Sunflower Seed Bezoar Presenting as Diarrhea

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics The Medical Center 710 Center St Columbus, GA 31994-2299

Am J Dis Child. 1989;143(6):643-644. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150180021009

Sir.—Few objects in medicine are the subject of more bizarre and mythical tales than the bezoar. A bezoar is defined as food or foreign material that has undergone digestive changes in the gut. The translation of this term is "antipoison" or antidote, and the bezoar has been highly praised for its alleged magical and medicinal properties.1 Bezoars have been used to treat old age, plagues, snake bites, and evil spirits.2 Queen Elizabeth deemed them precious enough to have had a gold-framed bezoar included in her crown jewels in 1622.1

In addition to being medical curiosities, bezoars have been known to cause serious health problems, including upper gastrointestinal tract ulceration and small-bowel obstruction. Bezoars are usually classified into two major groups: trichobezoars, derived from hair, and phytobezoars, derived from plant material. A third group consists of miscellaneous materials of fungal, chemical, or foreign-body origin.1


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