Merck Manual

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Metabolism of Poisons


Barry R. Blakley

, DVM, PhD, Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Jul 2011 | Content last modified Nov 2016

Poisons can be absorbed via the digestive tract, skin, lungs, eyes, mucous membranes (such as those of the nose or eye), mammary glands, and uterus, as well as from sites of injection. Toxic effects may be local, or the poison can be absorbed and spread by way of the bloodstream. Some poisons are excreted by the kidneys. Others are excreted in the bile and collect in fat deposits. Still others are excreted in milk. In most cases, the body attempts to detoxify the poison. The liver is most often the location of this metabolic process. Unfortunately, in some cases when the poison is metabolized, it is broken down into compounds that are more toxic than the original compound.

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