Holiday Plants That Could Endanger Your Health - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/21/04

Holiday Plants That Could Endanger Your Health

This reminder if there are small children in the house or coming to your house for the holidays, the berries from holly and mistletoe can be dangerous to kids. Ironically, healers used the berries in the past for medicinal purposes so they're not actually poisonous. But a child who eats a few of them could end up with diarrhea and vomiting.

As for poinsettias, they are not poisonous either, unless you eat the whole plant. But a bigger concern for people like Billie Caudle is the poinsettia makes her break out in a rash. "I just start stinging and itching and start stinging my face and my neck and down my arms," says Billie Caudle, who is allergic to poinsettias.

Billie's allergist is Dr. Suzanne Beck and she told NewsChannel 11 today that milky substance that oozes from the poinsettia contains a protein similar to latex, the stuff in rubber gloves. The poinsettia and latex are both from the rubber plant family. So, patients with a latex allergy should avoid the rubber plant and this Christmas plant. But, Dr. Beck says even if you don't have an allergy to latex, the poinsettia may get under your skin.

"It's probably more the irritant reaction to the dust from the plant rather than an allergic reaction. Also we know the soil that poinsettias have are loaded with mold. Some patients may actually inhale some of the dust from the plant from the pollens and we're learning that those patient may also have what we would call a topical desensitization to the pollen in the plant," says Dr. Beck.

Dr. Beck says a true allergy can trigger a life-threatening reaction so, she keeps the poinsettia in her office way up high and even if you reach up to admire this pretty thing, the doctor's not worried because it's silk.

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