Deiffenbachia: Not your ideal house plant

Honestly, I have already heard about a common indoor plant that causes poisoning and permanent blindness in children and adults. I remembered I only smirked when my aunt mentioned about it but I realized it was some kind of a premonition to what just happened today.

Deiffenbachia, commonly called as Dumb Cane can be seen in almost every Filipino home. I guess it is so because it is easy to care for whether it be placed indoor or outdoor. Though not as pretty as other houseplants, most people have it because they can grow fast even without much attention and caring.

The Dumb Cane. It actually has many variations but they all look similar. Credits to the owner of the photo.

 I suggest that you discard this plant from your home especially if you have little kids. This contains oxalic acid and asparagineswhich are toxic chemicals. For some people, merely touching any part of the plant can cause them to have blisters. Symptoms may also arise when you put your hand in your eyes after touching the plant. It can damage mucous membranes too. Symptoms include aburning sensation in the throat or mouth,hoarse voice, diarrhea, swollen tongue or mouth, pain in the eyes, corneal damage, and the ever-present nausea and vomiting.

If a large amount of this plant is taken into the body, medical attention should be sought immediately as it may lead to more severe symptoms and even irreversible complications. Its toxic chemicals can result to hypocalcemia which later on can cause muscle tremors, lethargy, and even death. It may also cause respiratory arrest.

It is very vital for you to assess whether the patient needs to be taken to the Emergency Room immediately. This is true especially if the person is already lethargic or is having difficulty in breathing. Just remember not to panic when this happens. Relax and do your first aid. Call a Poison Control Clinic if there’s one near you or just seek medical attention as soon as possible. Bear in mind, it’s always better to be sure than sorry.

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