Datura : toxic plant rich in alkaloids

The ancient Datura (It will give straw) is a plant of the family of Solanaceae commonly found in nature and especially in the fields. But it poses a risk in terms of health because it contains toxic substances can lead, even at low doses, to serious health problems, even death. Moreover, the regulations require farmers to check the possible contamination of their products before they are placed on the market. Let’s focus on the Datura toxicity and the very many symptoms possible in case ofalkaloid poisoning with which all parts of the plant are endowed.

Toxicity of Datura: alkaloids involved

We have all had the opportunity to admire a Ancestral gift during a getaway in the fields because it is by far the most current in our country as in Europe for that matter, even if he is from Asia.

It grows spontaneously in wastelands, ditches and other uncultivated places, but it can also be found in orchards, in vineyards, as well as many other weeds. Jimson Datura blooms from the end of June until the first frosts. Its pretty, immaculate white trumpet-shaped flowers contrast against the dark green foliage composed of serrated leaves. As for his spiny bolls, these are none other than the fruits of Datura. They contain hundreds of small seeds.

The genre Datura contains many plants, some of which are used in pharmacology because they are rich in alkaloids. However, they are toxic and each of their organs represents a danger. For example, under its appearance of a pretty herbaceous plant, Jimson weed Datura is poisonous like many other plants of the same taxonomic rank. All parts of the plant without exception contain alkaloids, namely:

  • Of the’atropine,
  • Of the’hyoscyamine,
  • From scopolamine.

Vigilance is required if you want to pick plants in the wild to eat them as is frequently done with mushrooms for example. No part of the Datura escapes the rule which imposes the greatest caution.

Datura alkaloid poisoning: symptoms

In case of alkaloid contamination contained in the Datura, the intoxicated person presents clinical signs extremely varied and serious. She suffers from both peripheral disorders and of central disorders.

In the less serious cases, things return to normal after about fifteen hours at most, but this is only observable in the event of consumption of infinitesimal doses of alkaloids. On the other hand, in case ofsevere poisoning, the clinical manifestations persist for at least 72 hours and well beyond. It is obviously essential to contact emergency services at the first symptoms so that the person poisoned by Datura can be taken to the hospital without delay.

here are the main symptoms what can lead to Datura poisoning, even for very small amounts of alkaloids, knowing that they appear half an hour after ingestion from one part of the plant.

  • accommodation disorders,
  • Dilated pupils (bilateral mydriasis),
  • Significant dryness of the mouth,
  • Skin Dryness,
  • Anxiety,
  • Consequent vasodilation, that is to say a dilation of the vessels so that the subject becomes very red,
  • Digestive disorders
  • Tachycardia and other cardiovascular disorders,
  • Tremors,
  • Nervous tics,
  • Visual Disorders,
  • More or less incoherent words,
  • Confused state,
  • Panic attack,
  • Aggressiveness,
  • morbid hallucinations,
  • spatiotemporal disorientation,
  • Hyperexcitation (intense agitation) exposing the intoxicated person and his entourage to serious risks of injury of all kinds or accidents due to the irrational behavior he may adopt,
  • Convulsions,
  • Coma.

The alkaloids in the Datura plant block acetylcholine receptors. This process is called syndrome anticholinergique by medical specialists. Several months after poisoning with Datura alkaloids, psychiatric sequelae can still be observed, in particular because of the scopolamine, and the dilation of the pupils persists up to twenty days after the intoxication.

But you should also know that consumption of Datura can lead to death. The lethal dose is only 4 grams of Datura leaves (less in some adults and children), and it takes even fewer seeds or flowers to kill a person either by cardiac arresteither by respiratory depressionbecause these parts of the plant are extremely more powerful than the leaves.

It is not surprising that certain daturas are nicknamed theDevil’s Grass ! Depending on their species, they are given other equally evocative names, such as poison apple et grass of demons… The two nicknames attributed to the Jimson weed Datura are thorn apple et trumpet of angels… funny angels that you can’t trust, let’s know!

Whatever its name, Datura is a toxic plant that you absolutely have to be wary of. Cultures can be contaminated despite the vigilance of farmers and the agri-food industry, which has already given rise to product recalls like the canned vegetables, industrially prepared meals, buckwheat flour because a few Datura seeds had contaminated the buckwheat seeds… These food products of different brands and marketed by supermarkets represented a proven high risk of Datura poisoning. Be careful therefore to make children aware of the dangers of certain plants that it is better not to touch… except with their eyes.

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