Officials warn against moonflowers
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Submit to Stumbleupon (Opens in new window)
Five adolescents in Jefferson County have been sickened by moonflowers since Sept. 8, and health officials are warning people of the dangers of the flowers.
The five lived within 3.5 miles of each other, the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment said in a news release, and all have recovered. However, two of them were at one time in intensive care.
The flowers have large blooms and a delicate fragrance. The seeds, leaves and roots – when eaten, smoked or brewed into a tea – cause hallucinations and other medical problems.
Moonflowers are part of the Solanaceae family, Datura inoxia. The plant, which blooms at night, is typically 3 feet high and is native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. In the fall, it produces thorny pods containing seeds.
Health officials say that similar or related plants, including Devil’s Weed, Devil’s trumpet and Jimson Weed, often are referred to as moonflower and could have similar toxic effects.
Within an hour of ingesting the moonflower plant, symptoms begin.
Ingesting the plant causes agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Heart rate and blood pressure can climb, mouths can become dry, skin turns dry, hot and flushed, and vision is blurred. In severe cases, the plant can cause seizures and comas.
In addition to the five Jeffco teens, four other cases of moonflower toxicity have been reported to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center in the last month, the release said.
“It is important that parents, adolescents and educators are aware of toxic and potentially life threatening health effects from recreational use of the moonflower plant,” Jeffco senior epidemiologist Dr. Gayle Miller said in a statement.
Officials warn against moonflowers Share this: Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens
Datura stramonium, also known as Moonflower or Jimsonweed, is a poisonous weed that grows across most of the United States. Moonflower has been used for centuries as an intoxicant and medicinal herb, according to San Francisco State University. Recreational use of Moonflower has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, although the weed is considered highly dangerous for human consumption. Ingesting juice from the plant, eating its seeds or drinking tea made from Moonflower leaves poisons the human body and can have potent and severe effects.
Nervous System Effects
Moonflower contains several compounds poisonous to the human body, including atropine and scopolamine, which both interfere with the nervous system. The CDC reports that a person who has ingested Moonflower may experience hallucinations, anxiety, confusion and, in some cases, coma. Nervous-system effects generally take place within 1 hour of Moonflower ingestion and may last 24 to 48 hours, according to the CDC.
Hallucinations from Moonflower may be either visual or auditory. A November 2006 report in “USA Today” titled “Jimson Weed Users Chase High all the Way to Hospital” reports that some people have severe hallucinations and become a threat to themselves or others.
Hyperthermia, or high body temperature, may also occur from Moonflower ingestion, as the plant interferes with the body’s ability to cool itself. A person may also experience flushing of the skin and skin that is dry and hot to the touch.
Moonflower increases pulse rate and raises blood pressure. The chemical atropine, contained in Moonflower, may cause cardiac arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm, which may lead to cardiac arrest, according to a 2002 article in “The Permanente Journal” titled “Jimson Weed Poisoning—A Case Report.”
Moonflower may cause nausea or vomiting in some individuals. Urinary retention, or the inability to urinate, occurs in some people under the influence of Moonflower. Chemicals in the plant are antispasmodics that may interfere with the bladder’s ability to contract and release urine from the body. Thirst increases with Moonflower use, as well, prompting increased fluid intake. Medical intervention to prevent urinary system complications may be required for a person who is unable to empty his bladder after using Moonflower. Decreased gastrointestinal mobility also occurs, which prevents the body from expelling chemicals of the plant, causing effects of Moonflower to last for a longer period of time.
Datura stramonium, also known as Moonflower or Jimsonweed, is a poisonous weed that grows across most of the United States. Moonflower has been used for centuries as an intoxicant and medicinal herb, according to San Francisco State University.