Sorghum properties and toxicity
Medicinal properties of sorghum
Curative properties of sorghum
- Celiac disease: The main application of sorghum has been in diets for people allergic to gluten, like corn and rice. It can be used in the preparation of béchamel sauce, puddings, cookies, and endless culinary preparations suitable for coeliacs.
- Astringent: Sorghum grains have astringent properties due to its tannin content. This gives anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
- Anti-diarrhoeal: Decoction of sorghum grains is also recommended for people with constipation since it has emollient and laxative properties.
Toxicity of Sorghum
The toxicity of sorghum lies in its green parts: stem and leaves; so its grain consumption is no toxic and does not present any health risks. Attention must be placed to pastures for feeding animals.
What toxic components sorghum has?
When the plant is in its growth phase, its stem and leaves contain a cyanogenic glycoside called dhurrin, which decomposes into hydrocyanic acid (also known as prussic acid).
Is sorghum poisonous to animals?
Although some animals can detoxify hydrocyanic acid, it is toxic to ruminants (cows, goats, sheep), poultry and other livestock.
The nitrites concentration depend directly on the amount of fertilizer used and its quality.
Tannins can decrease the digestibility of the plant, causing the animals not to increase the desired weight (low feed efficiency).
Sorghum poisoning is caused by ingestion of plants with high content of hydrocyanic acid, mainly the stem or leaves.
Hydrocyanic acid in the body inactive enzymes (molecules) responsible for cell respiration (cytochrome oxidase), causing the blood cells can not take up oxygen and consequently leading to asphyxiation of all tissues of the body.
Especially affected tissues are those that require more irrigation, such as the brain and cardiovascular system.
An overdose can cause respiratory failure and death.
Symptoms of poisoning by hydrocyanic acid
In people: Salivation, burning in the mouth, feeling dry throat, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, facial flushing, tearing, headache, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, mydriasis (dilated pupils), respiratory paralysis.
In animals: unsteady gait, teeth grinding, grunting, bloating.
The antidote for poisoning by hydrocyanic acid in cattle is usually an intravenous injection of 2.3 grams of sodium nitrate in water, followed by further injection of 6.4 grams of sodium thiosulfate.
More information on sorghum in the listing above.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.