Public warned against consuming toxic plants

ABU DHABI — In the wake of the death recently of a man who drank an extract of a toxic plant 'Oleander' in his attempt to lower his blood sugar level, the Health Authority — Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has cautioned the public against ingesting such ornamental plants, in any form, found in public places.

By Nada S. Mussallam

Published: Thu 17 May 2007, 8:50 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:24 AM

There are serious dangers associated with eating plants and herbs available in public gardens, schools and hotels because some of them could be poisonous while others could cause life-threatening allergic reactions," warned Zaid Al Siksek, Director of Health Policy and Regulation at HAAD.

Al Siksek said the municipality has issued a circular to all contractors and consultants within and outside Abu Dhabi Island to remove all oleander plants and to replace them with other non-toxic plants.

On other measures undertaken by the Authority to ensure safety of public, he said HAAD will conduct a study on all toxic plants. The findings will be published in a booklet for the public to know the types of poisonous plants.

The study will focus on investigating the prevalence of ornamental plants in schools as children are at greater risk of poisoning compared to other segments of the population, he added.

According to Dr Mohammed Abu Elkhair, acting head of Drugs and Medical Products Section at the Authority, Oleander (scientific name is Nerium oleander), is primarily an outdoor plant found in many areas across the emirate. All parts of the plant, whether green or dried, are toxic and contain poisonous chemicals called cardioactive glycocides.

He said chewing the plant produces local irritation of the mouth and stomach and that is followed by nausea, stomach pain, diarrhoea, a persistent headache, muscular weakness, breathing problems and abnormal heartbeat. He advised that for further inquiries related to dangers of ornamental plants or herbs, people should contact the 'Poison and Drug Information Centre' at toll free 800424.

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