Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size
A
A
A

Ricin

Ricin Overview

Ricin is a powerful poison that could be used as an agent of biological warfare or as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Derived from the castor bean, it is easily and inexpensively produced, highly toxic, and stable in aerosol form. People can be affected by breathing it in, by being injected with it, or by coming in contact with it through contaminated food and water.

While it cannot be passed on from one person to another, there is no treatment or vaccine that can protect against it. If used in large enough quantities, its effects could overwhelm local health care resources. In 2004, three U.S. Senate office buildings were closed after ricin was found in the mailroom. Earlier, ricin was found at a White House mail-processing center as well as a post office in South Carolina. Ricin has also been a factor in other criminal and terrorists investigations both in the U.S. and overseas dating back to the early 1990s.

Recommended Related to Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome

The risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome -- unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess belly fat -- raise your odds of serious health problems. These include diabetes and blood vessel or heart disease. Specifically, metabolic syndrome can lead to arteriosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries." This is when fats, cholesterol, and other substances stick to the sides of the arteries. The arteries then become clogged and brittle. Blood clots form when the...

Read the Metabolic Syndrome article > >

Ricin Symptoms

Symptoms of ricin exposure vary depending on the type of exposure as well as how much was absorbed. People can be exposed by breathing it in as a result of it being sprayed as an aerosol, from consuming it in contaminated food or water, and from being injected with it.

If the ricin is inhaled, it’s likely that more than one person will be affected. In that case, a cluster of people would likely develop similar symptoms within 8 hours of the exposure. Symptoms would include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Progressive severe cough
  • Congestion in the nose and throat.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness

With significant exposure to ricin, breathing difficulties would occur within 12 to 24 hours. A chest x-ray might show excess fluid in the lungs.

If ricin is consumed, symptoms might initially mimic food poisoning, usually within 6 hours. Possible symptoms include:

Consuming ricin is usually less toxic than inhaling it. But with significant amounts of the poison, the symptoms could become more severe and result in death.

Symptoms of injection with ricin include:

  • Pain and swelling at the injection site
  • Flulike symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Body aches.

As time passes, symptoms become more severe, and a life-threatening syndrome can develop.

1 | 2 | 3

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
Balding man in mirror
Treatments & solutions.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
Remember your finger
Are you getting more forgetful?
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
Myths and facts.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.