Fornaciari, Gino and Giuffra, Valentina and Bortolotti, Federica and Gottardo, Rossella and Marvelli, Silvia and Marchesini, Marco and Marinozzi, Silvia and Fornaciari, Antonio and Brocco, Giorgio and Tagliaro, Franco (2015) A Medieval case of digitalis poisoning: the sudden death of Cangrande della Scala, lord of verona (1291-1329). Journal of archaeological science, Vol. 54 , p. 162-167. ISSN 0305-4403. eISSN 1095-9238. Article.
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The natural mummy of Cangrande della Scala was exhumed from its tomb in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Verona and was submitted to a multidisciplinary study, that included archaeological, palaeopathological, palynological, toxicological and historical investigation. The body of Cangrande, still wearing his precious clothes, was in a good state of preservation. Palynological analyses demonstrated the presence of pollen grains of Digitalis sp./foxglove in the rectum content, along with Matricaria
chamomilla/chamomille and Morus nigra/black mulberry. Toxicological analyses showed toxic concentrations
of digoxin and digitoxin, two Digitalis glycosides, in the liver and faeces samples. Both palynological and toxicological data suggest an intoxication through the oral administration of an infusion or decoction of leaves and flowers of Digitalis.
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