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Poisonous plants you probably have in your house

It is great having plants in our house and garden as they are beautiful, brighten up every space and have positive psychological effects. As a flower lover I never thought that there could be a downside to owning as many plants as possible so I was very surprised to find out that a lot of the flowers I love are actually poisonous. I wanted to share with you some very widely spread plants that you probably own or have come across, so you can be careful - especially if you have little children or pets.


Snowdrop


Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to bloom in the new year and for many people they symbolize spring and new beginning.

In the past however, not everyone viewed the snowdrop as a good sign and for many Victorians snowdrops signified death.

The reason: snowdrops often grow in

churchyards and cemeteries and to bring one into your home meant to invite death.

Even today a lot of people consider it bad luck to bring a snowdrop into their house.

Another reason for these superstitions is probably the fact that the bulb of the snowdrop is highly poisonous if eaten. They contain the alkaloid galantamine which when consumed in bigger doses can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lowered blood pressure and slowed heart rate. Having said that, snowdrops have been used in pharmacies to make herbal medicines and pharmaceutical drugs. The alkaloid galantamine which makes them poisonous is even used in research and could be the key for treatment for Alzheimer's disease!



Nerium oleander


Don't be fooled by this flowers' beautiful looks because in reality it is pretty deadly. The Nerium oleander is highly poisonous and even very small amounts of it could be fatal; inhaling the smoke from a burning oleander could also be dangerous and a simple touch can cause skin irritation. It contains cardiac glycosides (which are highly poisonous) in all of its parts: stems, leaves, flowers and roots! They cause the human heart rate to drop to a very low rate until eventually the heart stops beating altogether. Just 4 grams of oleander leaves is considered to be a lethal dose. Even though this plant is highly poisonous it is widely spread all over the world and mostly in subtropical areas so you have probably seen it someone's garden or when on holiday. When in bloom the Nerium can be orange, pink, red, white or yellow. It grows to be up to 12 feet tall and wide.



Narcissus


In Greek mythology Narcissus was the son

of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was a hunter well known for his good looks. However, when he rejected the love of the nymph Echo the gods punished him to fall in love with his own reflection in the water of a spring. He took a long look at his reflection and, eventually realizing it was his own, he fell into despair and drowned himself in the river. From the place his body fell grew the beautiful narcissus flower. Today narcissuses are very beloved but did you know they are poisonous to animals and humans? People ingest them when mistakenly taking their bulbs for onions. All parts of the flower, especially the bulb, are toxic and contain the toxin lycorine which is known to cause vomiting, nausea, and gastrointestinal cramping. These symptoms are not life threatening for humans but if your pet ingests any part of the narcissus it is good to take them to the vet.



Aloe


While the Aloe Vera has many health benefits and it is safe to consume you have to be very

careful that you are actually consuming is Aloe Vera and not other kinds of the Aloe plant.

There are three poisonous Aloe species: Aloe Ballyi, Aloe Elata and Aloe Ruspoliana.

They contain various polysaccharides and phenolic chemicals which when ingested can cause diarrhea, hypokalemia, stomach pain and even kidney failure.

Otherwise the Aloe Vera is a great plant to have in your home as it has many uses. It is great for treating skin conditions and sunburn when the gel is applied on the skin, a lot of people also use it to keep their skin clear, hydrated and wrinkle free.

Aloe Vera is generally considered safe to eat as it has a lot of health benefits such as: reducing constipation, lowering blood sugar levels, anti- inflammatory effects, reducing dental plaque and is very rich in antioxidants.

However, oral consumption of unprocessed Aloe Vera gel has its risks as it may cause stomach cramps and sometimes ever diarrhea due to its laxative effects.




Hydrangea


The name Hydrangea is derived from Greek and means "water vessel" because of the shape of its seed capsules. Hydrangeas are really pretty as they bloom in a range of colours: pink, blue, red, white, purple or green.

I was surprised to find out that this beautiful plant is also toxic and even though it is rarely fatal, all parts of the plant are poisonous because they contain cyanogenic glycoside, a natural plant toxin which can lead to acute intoxication. Symptoms include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, diarrhea. In the more serious cases poisoning can lead to trouble breathing and convulsions, this however is very rare in case of ingestion of large quantities. Hydrangea poisoning is only dangerous for little children and animals so if you have them in your garden keep an eye on your pets and keep your kids away from them. To avoid skin irritation make sure you always wash your hands after handling them.



Dieffenbachia


Dieffenbachia is a very popular house

plant, which is grown worldwide because it is easy to look after and it is quite beautiful. It can be found in many homes and it is the perfect office plant to keep on your desk. The only downside is that it is poisonous to both animals and children.

This plant is also known as Dumb cane because of the temporary speechlessness which occurs after the plant is being chewed. This is due to the high content of calcium oxalate which is toxic when eaten or handled improperly. The plant is most dangerous when ingested as it causes the airways to swell shut. Other symptoms include burning sensation, nausea, and trouble swallowing this is caused by the oxalic acid in its juice, stems and leaves. It could also cause skin and eye irritation, however dieffenbachia has medium toxicity and the poisoning is not life threatening. It is considered to be more dangerous for animals and children than it is for adults, so make sure to keep out of their reach if you, like me, have dieffenbachia in your home.





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