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First Aid for Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 28, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound.

What is Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

  • Jack-in-the-pulpit (botanical name Arisaema triphyllum) is small plant, about 2 feet tall, that is native to certain regions of North America. The roots of the plant are considered toxic
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Arisaema Triphyllum Poisoning
  • Bog Onion Poisoning
  • Brown Dragon Poisoning
  • Devil’s-Ear Poisoning
  • Dragon-Turnip Poisoning
  • Indian Turnip Poisoning
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit Toxicity
  • Lords-and-Ladies Poisoning
  • Marsh Turnip Poisoning
  • Meadow Turnip Poisoning
  • Priest’s-Pintle Poisoning
  • Swamp Turnip Poisoning
  • Three-Leaved Arum Poisoning
  • Wake Robin Poisoning
  • Wild Turnip Poisoning

What are the Causes of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning is caused by eating jack-in-the-pulpit plant or plant products
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • The poisonous part of the plant is calcium oxalate that is mainly found in the roots

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. The signs and symptoms of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning may include:

  • Powerful burning sensation in the mouth and throat, when consumed
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue
  • Tearing from the eyes
  • Formation of mouth ulcers that may affect the functions of speaking and swallowing
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased response level
  • Seizures

How is First Aid administered for Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Clean the mouth to remove any remaining pieces; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
  • Following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give milk to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the plant or plant product to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Medically manage symptoms
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

First aid for Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms that occur due to mild poisoning, the outcome is generally good, with appropriate medication and early support
  • In case of severe symptoms due to severe contact/poisoning, it may worsen the outcome and/or prolong time of recovery

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning be Prevented?

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding eating wild berries and plants, especially if you have no information about them
  • Following working in the garden or fields, hiking, or camping, always wash hands thoroughly, prior to eating anything
  • Always follow instructions for usage of any health or cosmetic products
  • Keeping cosmetics, medications, and other healthcare products out of reach of children in child-proof containers
  • Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

It is important to give your healthcare provider a complete list of prescription and non-prescription medications that are being currently taken. This will help them in assessing the possible drug interactions within various medications and help avoid/prevent accidental or unintentional toxic drug effects.

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 6, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 28, 2018