Health: Plant poisoning: this is taken into account – Wikipedia

Can you eat this berry? There is a risk of confusion when choosing them yourself. Photo: imago / Westend61 / Daniel Ingold

A recent study shows that plants still play a major role in anti-toxin calls. But the risk is often less than expected. Instead, many misconceptions are circulating among the German population.

The British writer Aldous Huxley was already suspicious: “Beauty is more dangerous than wine,” and he was right about some plants. Monasticism, the killer eggplant and the angel’s trumpet are garden decorations, but we should rather avoid their poisons.

As a research team led by toxicologist and travel medicine specialist Sebastian Wendt of the University Hospital Leipzig discovered, the plants are among the top 3 reports of suspected toxins in Germany. Behind Medicines & Chemicals. But long before the mushroom, which as a layman was expected to play a leading role in the case of possible poisoning. In the case of children, about 15 percent of inquiries received at a German poison center relate to contact or consumption of the plant. On the other hand, this is due to the fact that children’s hands hold fast to nature and sometimes they like to put the thing in question in their mouths.

Basic knowledge is missing

Many parents, teachers, and doctors seem to lack a basic knowledge of what might be classified as a real danger in the plant world in this country – which is why they often call it a poison control center, even though this is not actually necessary. Carola Seidel, deputy head of the poison information center at the University Hospital in Bonn, reports that a teacher asked her what she should do now because one of her children at school had eaten two unripe cherries. “There should be no plausible report anywhere of someone poisoning themselves in this way,” Seidel says. In another call, parents reported that their children had eaten rowan berries. Then the doctor asked about the color of the fruit. “The answer was: blue,” Seidel says. “And then it was clear: Grape can’t be grapes.”

Even the often-heard theory that climate change would have promoted the spread of new poisonous plants in this country, cannot be confirmed by Seidl of her work in the poison emergency hotline. There are now a few plants like the lucky feather, originally from Africa, that now appear as a potent irritant to mucous membranes. “But other than that, we’ve had the usual poisoning suspects for decades,” Seidel confirms. Like a deadly eggplant, which can be confused with an edible berry. Or the autumn crocus, which causes poisoning every spring because it resembles the wild garlic that is often collected.

Salt water is a bad idea

There are also many misconceptions in this country when it comes to first aid for plant poisoning. Therefore, the idea persists that if a child bites a poisonous plant, you should stick your finger to his throat or give him a drink of concentrated salt water until he vomits. “But in the end, relatively small amounts of toxins are removed, perhaps 10 to 20 percent,” Seidel stresses. In addition, salt water can lead to fatal, life-threatening poisoning, and the syrup available in pharmacies should also not be used to induce nausea because it can cause fleeting irritation of the mucous membranes and persistent vomiting. Gastric lavage is rarely used today.



Better give something to drink

For parents, kindergarten teachers and educators, on the other hand, it is usually enough to give something to drink in case of possible poisoning from plants. “It can also be milk if the baby prefers milk,” Seidl says. “Because their fat content is often too low to support the absorption of fat-soluble toxins – widely referred to as a side effect.” In principle, tea, water or juice is ideal insofar as it is a matter of dilution to mitigate the irritating effect of problem-causing substances.

Finally, do not forget that in case of suspected contact with a poisonous plant, a poison control center can, of course, be contacted. Because you often don’t know for sure if a child has been nibbling or just nibbling the killer nightshade. “The saying goes: Caution or porcelain,” says Seidel. But this does not apply if the child ate two unripe cherries.

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