What is Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
- Lily-of-the-valley plant (botanical name Convallaria majalis) is a wild, sweetly-scented plant with white flowers arranged as a cascade/shower
- It is generally found in the temperate regions of the world and is considered highly-poisonous. The poisonous parts of the plant include the berries, flowers, and leaves
- Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant parts (such as new sprouting leaves and tubers)
- 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)
Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:
- Convallaria Majalis Poisoning
- Lily of the Valley Plant Poisoning
- Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Toxicity
- Mary's Tears Poisoning
- May Bells Poisoning
- May Lily Poisoning
- Our Lady's Tears Poisoning
What are the Causes of Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
- Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning is caused by eating lily-of-the-valley plant parts that contain cardiac glycosides in substantial amounts (in the leaves and fruits)
- This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
- All parts of the plant are considered toxic
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 Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
The signs and symptoms can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Various body systems, such as the vascular, gastrointestinal, nervous, and ENT, are affected. The signs and symptoms of Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning may include:
- Headaches and weaknesses
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Increased urination frequency at night
- Skin rashes and hives (red weals on the body)
- Vision abnormalities, including blurry vision
- Abnormalities in heartbeat rate
- Neurological symptoms include confusion, drowsiness, and disorientation
- Lightheadedness and collapse
- In case of chronic toxicity - appetite loss, depression, and appearance of halo around objects may be seen
How is First Aid administered for Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
First Aid tips for Lily-of-the-Valley Plant 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
- Clean the mouth to remove any remaining pieces; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
- Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
- 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 and provide breathing support, if necessary
- Gastric lavage for elimination of the compound from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
- Administer suitable medication to counter the effects of the toxin
- Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the compound in the body
- Administer laxatives for elimination of the compound from the body
- Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary
Who should administer First Aid for Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
First aid for Lily-of-the-Valley Plant 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 Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning?
- The prognosis of Lily-of-the-Valley Plant 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 poisoning, with appropriate and early medication (within 24-72 hours), the outcome is generally good
- In case of severe poisoning, the brain and nervous system may be severely affected. In such cases, the prognosis may be adversely affected. However, fatalities have generally not been reported from Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning
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 Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning be Prevented?
Lily-of-the-Valley Plant Poisoning can be prevented by:
- Avoiding eating parts of the lily-of-the-valley plant
- 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
- Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)
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