A toxin is any material produced by a living organism that is capable of causing you disease. Toxins are adept in inducing antibody or antitoxin production as well.
A poison is any substance that causes you injury, illness or death. A toxin falls within this category, as do chemicals.
Human health is in peril of toxins produced by:
Bacterial toxins can cause all sorts of health effects, like:
- severe pain
- toxic shock
- abdominal pain
- bloody diarrhea
- muscle cramps
Bacteria is notorious for producing toxins that cause diseases, notably:
- scarlet fever
- gas gangrene
- whooping cough
- various strains of E. coli
Some bacteria only target the certain cells. For instance, neurotoxins hone in on your nervous system, as is the case with botulism and tetanus.
Sometimes bacteria produce their toxins wherever they grow. So if you eat the toxinand don’t happen to get infected with the bacteria, then you might get sick anyway. An example of this is with certain types of food poisoning.
Fish or shellfishcan cause health effects if they’ve fed on toxin producing plants or algae. Some spiders and snakes may inject their toxins into you which can potentially kill you.
Mushroom poisoning is caused by ingesting toxins synthesized by the mushrooms themselves. Castor bean ricin and jequirity bean abrin toxins are naturally occurring lethal toxins.
Not all toxins cause disease. In some cases, toxins can be helpful. Muscle hyperactivity, such as myoclonus and eyelid twitching, may be treated with the toxin that causes botulism, commonly referred to as botox. Toxins are also being used on blocked heart arteries and certain blood cancers.