Is Mistletoe Poisonous

If you're wondering, "Is mistletoe poisonous," you should know the answer is yes. Real mistletoe is poisonous both to humans and pets. The poisonous compound is Phoratoxin. It is found in all parts of the mistletoe plant, but has a higher concentration in the leaves.

How to Spot Mistletoe Poisoning
The symptoms of mistletoe poisoning include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weakness, brought on by Phoratoxin's effects on the heart and blood
  • Drowsiness

Some people may suffer all symptoms, while others may suffer from just a few or have no symptoms at all. Fortunately, mistletoe poisoning is almost never fatal in humans unless a lot of the plant is consumed. Dogs are at the highest risk for mistletoe-related deaths. Dogs are attracted to the plant's berries and seldom bother the leaves. Look for mistletoe with wax berries, rather than real ones, to reduce the risk to your pets.

If a person or a pet ingests mistletoe, contact the poison control center immediately. Do not induce vomiting. Make sure you know the age, weight and condition of the person or pet that ingested the mistletoe, the time that it was swallowed and the amount swallowed. 

If you can['t find out how much mistletoe was ingested, advise the poison control center or the emergency room and give them your best estimate.

Mistletoe eaten in a small quantity is not as dangerous to an adult as it is to children and pets, because of the difference in size and weight. You may feel pretty sick for a while, but in most cases you'll recover in a few days unless you have an allergic reaction. Children and pets who eat mistletoe should receive prompt medical attention. Adults are strongly advised to see a doctor if they suspect mistletoe poisioning, as the toxin can be fatal in large quantities.

Controlling Mistletoe Dangers
Mistletoe with plastic or wax berries should be used in homes with children and pets. Remember that this doesn't eliminate the danger; it simply removes one of the most tempting parts of the plant for animals.

You can use artificial mistletoe in place of the real thing. Another option is to take a clear glass ornament and push the mistletoe inside. This lets you enjoy real mistletoe without the danger of leaves and berries falling to the floor.

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