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First Aid for Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 28, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound.


What is Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning?

  • Jerusalem Cherry (botanical name Solanum pseudocapsicum) is a small flowering/fruiting plant that is found in north and south America, Australia and New Zealand. The leaves and unripe fruits of the plant are considered toxic
  • Jerusalem Cherry 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)

Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Christmas Cherry Poisoning
  • Ground Cherry Poisoning
  • Jerusalem Cherry Toxicity
  • Madeira Winter Cherry Poisoning
  • Winter Cherry Poisoning

What are the Causes of Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning?

  • Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning is caused by eating Jerusalem cherry 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 the alkaloid solanocapsine that is mainly found in the leaves and fruits of the plant. However, all parts of the plant may contain the toxin

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 Jerusalem Cherry 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 Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning may include:

  • Fever and headache
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Decrease in pulse rate and breathing rate
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain in the stomach and abdomen
  • Decreased response level
  • Numbness and loss of sensation
  • Vision abnormalities including dilated pupils
  • Delirium
  • Shock and paralysis

The poison is known to primarily affect the digestive and nervous system. The stomach symptoms may be onset after a period of 8-10 hours.

How is First Aid administered for Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Jerusalem Cherry 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
  • 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:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Medically manage symptoms
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the substance in the body
  • Administer laxatives for elimination of the substance from the body
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary

Who should administer First Aid for Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning?

First aid for Jerusalem Cherry 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 Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Jerusalem Cherry 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 many cases, most of the affected individuals are known to recover within 3 days
  • In case of severe symptoms due to poisoning, it may worsen the outcome and 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 Jerusalem Cherry Poisoning be Prevented?

Jerusalem Cherry 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