A Bezoar is an accretion of foreign material that collects in the stomach and fails to move into the bowel.

Types of Bezoar

A trichobezoar is a bezoar made primarily of hair. These are found in the stomachs of ruminant animals; in cats they are referred to as a "hairball". In humans, a trichobezoar is most often the result of chewing on one's hair and is most prevalent in adolescent females. The hair occludes in the digestive tract, leading to constipation, vomiting, weight-loss, nausea, and abdominal pain. If the trichobezoar is large enough it is known as Rapunzel Syndrome, and may require surgery.

A Phytobezoar is one that is composed of undigestible plant or vegetable material, such as the seeds, pith, or skin. A prior gastointestinal disorder is most often indicated in the case of a Phytobezoar.

A Pharmocobezoar is composed of undigested medication in tablet of viscous form. Often it is the result of an antacid being prescribed which reduces the acid content of the stomach. This allows undigested food to accrete, collecting medication in the process.

A Diospyrobezoar is one that results from eating unripened Persimmons (from the genus Diaspyros). The flesh of persimmons contains a tannin known as Shiboul. Shiboul polymerizes in contact with a weak acid, turning to glue within the digestive tract. In cases of a diospyrobezoar, surgery is most often needed.

A Harpanahalli Bezoar is one that is relegated to Indian history. Brahmin widows of a certain region of India would feed a pill to a stranger that dined at their table, a pill that was supposedly composed of Chameleon Blood, among other things. The pill would immediately begin accreting in the victim's stomach, and if it was ever extracted, it would contain the same food eaten at that original meal. The widows believed that by killing young men they were assuring their own salvation.


Bezoars can be identified by endoscopy, X-Rays of the abdomen, or by a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. With a small occlusion the bezoar may be dissolved following a regimen of meat tenderizer taken with a glass of water before each meal, or may need to broken up endoscopically. Metoclopromide may be prescribed to stimulate peristalsis. Large bezoars often require surgery to extract them from the abdominal wall.


"I perceived myself seized with a pain which forced me to rise... I had recourse to bezoar, a sovereign remedy against these poisons, which I always carried about me."
- Jerome Lobo, A Vovage to Abyssinia

Bezoars were once believed to have the ability to neutralize any poison that they came in contact with. The word bezoar comes from the Persian pâdzahr, meaning "protection from poison". Stone bezoars are still sold as magical talismans, offen marketed as "animal pearls".


Merck Medical Dictionary
A Voyage to Abyssinia
Radiology: Bezoars
Nathan, S. V. The Harpanahalli Bezoar. Annals of Surgery (1929) February 89(2): 314

Be"zoar (?), n. [F. b'ezoard, fr. Ar. bazahr, badizahr, fr. Per. pad-zahr bezoar; pad protecting + zahr poison; cf. Pg. & Sp. bezoar.]

A calculous concretion found in the intestines of certain ruminant animals (as the wild goat, the gazelle, and the Peruvian llama) formerly regarded as an unfailing antidote for poison, and a certain remedy for eruptive, pestilential, or putrid diseases. Hence: Any antidote or panacea.

⇒ Two kinds were particularly esteemed, the Bezoar orientale of India, and the Bezoar occidentale of Peru.

Bezoar antelope. See Antelope. -- Bezoar goat Zool., the wild goat (Capra aegagrus). -- Bezoar mineral, an old preparation of oxide of antimony.



© Webster 1913.

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