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Med a drug or agent that counteracts or neutralizes the effects of a poison
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a medicine used to cure poisoning. Antidotes counteract poisons and prevent or eliminate the toxic effects caused by them. Antidotes are applied before absorption of the poison (local-acting antidotes) or after its entry into the bloodstream (resorptive antidotes). The first group includes substances that counteract poisons in the stomach, on the skin, and on the mucous membranes before their absorption and entry into the organs and tissues (active charcoal and alkalines in cases of acid poisoning, and so on). The antidotal effect is achieved by means of the physical-chemical (absorption) and chemical (oxidation, neutralization, formation of insoluble salts) interaction of this group of substances with the poison. The second group of antidotes is composed of substances counteracting poisons in the blood and organs. The antidotal effect is achieved both by interaction with the poison circulating in the blood and by a direct “displacement” of the poison from the tissues of the organism in accordance with the principle of concentration gradients. Antidotes of this type include unitiol, the British Anti-Lewisite (BAL) and the similar Hungarian dikaptol, Czechoslovak dimerkaprol, and German (GDR) Dithio-glycerine, which counteract compounds of mercury, chrome, arsenic, and other metals (except lead), whose effect is due mainly to the presence in them of molecules of the sulf-hydryl (SH) groups; oximes, which reactivate the enzyme cholinesterase, which is blocked in cases of organic phosphorous poisoning; preparations of ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid (EDTA), which forms complexes with the salts of heavy metals that are eliminated relatively quickly in the urine; and several others.

Antidotes that act in a functional manner contrary to that of a particular poison play an important role. Thus, the antidote of muscarine, physiostigmine, and other substances causing acute excitation of the cholinergic systems of the organism is atropine, which blocks these systems.

Together with antidotes, many medicines that eliminate individual symptoms of poisoning and substances that promote the expulsion of poison from the organism (emetics, laxatives, and diuretics) are used. These means are widely used in treatment of poisoning; however, in the strict sense of the word they are not antidotes.

An antidote must be applied as quickly as possible after the entry of poison into the organism. The introduction of an antidote does not exclude a whole series of general precautions, such as washing out of the stomach, blood transfusions, or artificial respiration.


Karasik, V. M. “Protivoiadiia.” In Rukovodstvo po farmakologii. Edited by N. V. Lazarev. Vol. 2. Moscow, 1961. Pages 436–51.
Golikov, S. N. lady i protivoiadiia. Moscow, 1968.
Ludevig, R., and K. Lohs. Akute Vergiftungen, 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


An agent that relieves or counteracts the action of a poison.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Initial management should include correction of acidosis, inotropic support, and antidotal therapy with prepackaged cyanide antidote kits (inhaled amyl nitrite ampoule initially or intravenous sodium nitrate, 10 ml; followed by intravenous 25% sodium thiosulfate, 50 ml) or a combination of sodium thiosulfate and hydroxocobalamin (5g intravenously over 15 min.).
Although the lived experiences and practices of Afrikan people may be considered to be antidotal data, it is imperative that one remain cognizant of the fact that such a modality for understanding human conduct has been implemented for centuries.
Our NATS President received a request from a doctoral student for "antidotal" stories related to vocal health and warm-ups; it remains uncertain whether the student wanted the OTC or prescription variety.
But antidotal reports speak to its healing and nurturing benefits.
Scherzer's methods seemed unreliable for any field, as his report relied on anecdotal evidence (which he referred to as "antidotal"), unsupported statistical assertions, and uncited professional journals.
Bench-to-bedside review: Antidotal treatment of sulfonylurea-induced hypoglycaemia with octreotide.
et al (2005) Organophosphorus antidotal protection with bacterial enzymes immobilized within a nanocapsule, polyoxazoline based dendritic polymer carrier system.
(28) A brief look at some of these sites yields gems such as "far-gone conclusion," (29) "antidotal evidence," (30) "mute point," (31) and "girdle one's loins." (32) Other examples are included in the appendices.