Happy Halloween (or Samhain) to all our readers !!
If you look at the stats, calls about plant ingestion to poison control centers do not usually involve culinary or medicinal herbs, but decorative house plants such as holly berries, mistletoe and poinsettias. Should you need to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers about a possible poisoning issue, their help line is 1-800-222-1222. Their website is at http://www.aapcc.org/ .
As for herbs, unfortunately, many imported herbs from such countries as China may contain lead, mercury, arsenic, other dangerous chemicals or foreign plant matter. When product is traded and handled in bulk, the wholesaler may have little control (or care) over how their suppliers grow, harvest, store and ship the herbs. You may instead want to buy locally, buy from reliable sellers, or even grow your own herbs.
If you’re taking herbs and prescriptions or over the counter drugs, you’ll want to avoid two possible scenarios; 1), interfering with the drugs effects, and 2), amplifying the drugs effects. For instance, drinking 4 cups of coffee and taking the sedative valium could definitely cause an adverse reaction. St. John’s Wort is used as an antidepressant, and should never be combined with prescription antidepressants. As a general rule, avoid mixing herbs with prescription drugs or over the counter medication.
Finally, before you venture out to buy or collect herbs, be sure you can identify the herb(s) you are looking for ! Check out Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs, or James A. Duke, and Steven Foster – Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs.
Blessed Samhain to you, Azul.
Excellent article about herb safety. More important than ever to remind our subscribers and readers to take precautions when decorating for the holidays. An example would be mistletoe and holly berries. Both are toxic, and sometimes lethal in small doses. Also included are poke berries. People also need to be aware of Amaryllis and Narcissus bulbs. These are purchased in pots and are “forced” to bloom at Christmas. These bulbs are very toxic to children and pets. As a matter of fact all bulbs with the exception of garlic and onion bulbs are toxic. Be sure that the fall bulb collection is stored in a safe area away from children and pets, until the bulbs can be planted. Daffodil, iris, and tulips all contain toxic properties and should kept away from children and pets. Also on the toxic list are live Christmas trees. These are toxic as well. The fir tree oils can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture. Be sure to keep an eye out for fallen needles, and sweep them up right away. It’s best not to leave children un-attended around Christmas trees and wreaths. Cedar, Douglas Fir, pine, the sap is toxic, watch carefully that puppies don’t chew on the bark or tree trunk.
Also included would be a list of certain herbs that should not be ingested. People use natural decorations during the holidays not realizing the danger. Here is a partial list of some herbs I would have not have in my home for any reason. Especially around young children and pets.
Arnica, Belladonna, Bittersweet, Bryony, Chaparral, Comfrey, European pennyroyal, False hellebore, Foxglove, Henbane, Indian snakeroot, Ipecac, Jimson weed, Lily of the Valley, Male fern, Mandrake, May apple, Mistle toe, Pasque flower, Pennyroyal, Pheasant’s eye, Poke root, Squill, Yellow jessamine.
Azul, thanks for posting the Hotline number for the National Poison Control Center. It only takes a moment, and an accidental poisoning can occur. Before I sign off on this timely article written by you, I’d like to remind our subscribers to keep cigarettes and lighters away from children. Nicotine is a deadly poison, and as little as 3 or 4 cigarettes can cause liver or kidney damage if children ingest them.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful holidays, let’s keep it safe for the little ones.
~ Meadow Walker