Are Cycads Poisonous to Humans

The Sago palms have been here since the age of dinosaurs and have survived them and so many other generations. The low maintenance allows them to outlive many civilizations. These are also called Cycas revoluta, which are small, about 3 to 20 ft tall and 2 to 12 ft wide.

The plant is old and has originated in the subtropical climate of southeast Asia. However, due to its beauty and successful management on its own, the plant is popular in the US, especially in areas with hardiness zone 8, such as Florida.

The appearance of the Sago’s palm is bluish-green leaves that have a bit of rough texture along with a brown stem that is thick and stubby. Female palms additionally produce a cone that yearly reproduces seed. To reproduce, you must have both opposite-sex plants to go through pollination.

As mentioned earlier, for outdoor planting of Sago’s palms, you must live in areas with minimum winter temperature in the hardiness zones of 8 and above. In these areas, plants thrive all year despite weather conditions.

Although plants are the natural devices to clean the air and make it abundant in oxygen, and the plant extracts can be used for various purposes such as medicines, etc., their ingestion can be dangerous for living beings.

Are Cycads Poisonous to Humans?

Yes. A neurotoxin is a component of the plant composition that is harmful, toxic, and poisonous to humans and pets. This is abundantly found in Cycad palms.

This post will cover the Sago palms’ toxicity and how to prevent and treat it.

How Does It Spread?

The spread of the poisoning is only possible through ingestion, so it is unlikely that touching it would be dangerous. Even though touching may not be dangerous, always wear gloves to protect your fingers from the pointed fronds.

Cycads are plants that have all the parts which contain toxic poisons. Seeds of the cycads are more toxic than all other parts, though; since the seed is tiny, most pets digest it and get poisoned. The seeds are small ready-to-eat bits for dogs and other pets.

How To Kill a Cycad Palm?

The plant is quite tall and sturdy; it isn’t easy to cut it down. You will need a chainsaw. After using it, make several holes using a drill in the stump, then use potent glyphosate, which acts as a herbicide, and fill it in the holes, ensuring that the roots are dead to the core.

The best way to perform this task is to use protective gear, and after you are done, always clean the cutting equipment.

People usually ask if it is safe to burn the leaves and the Cycad debris. The main issue with burning a plant is that it increases the carbon in the air. Secondly, since the cycad palms are also toxic, burning their remnants will only release the toxins in the gaseous form, which is quite harmful because now all living beings would breathe in that air.

Instead of burning the debris, it is better to pack it up in a plastic bag and then deliver it to a landfill site.

How To Detect Whether You Have Cycad Poisoning?

Cytosine is another toxin found in the Cycad palms. It directly attacks the liver and causes a huge ruckus in the body; its high amounts can lead to death too. Even in low amounts, it can do a significant amount of damage to the liver and the body.

The toxicity depends upon which part of the plant is ingested and how healthy the immune system of the person fighting the poison is.

Furthermore, it is essential to consider the victim’s size and age at the time of the poisoning. It is evident that older people are less likely to survive in this situation since the immune system weakens in old age, and one becomes more susceptible to diseases.

The toxin acts rapidly, and a victim might feel the symptoms only after 15 minutes of having it. Again, the reaction time depends on the above factors, but rest assured, the cytosine symptoms will appear in a few hours.

So, look for the appropriate symptoms if you are suspicious that the cytosine has poisoned you or someone near you in the Cycad plant. These could be drooling, diarrhea, Gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Although these gut-related symptoms may not seem harsh, they clearly warn that liver failure could be on its way. The liver is a very vital organ for all animals and humans. If it is affected, the other body parts fail first, such as the blood will not clot on its own, so if you get a cut, it will bleed and not heal.

Furthermore, cytosine in the body can also affect the gums, making them sensitive and bleeding. Similarly, nosebleeds are a common occurrence of liver failure as well. In case of internal bleeding, the person could die before it is detected.

When the blood is not detoxified, it is because the liver is not functioning well. The symptoms that come after some time due to cytosine include wobbly ambulation, weakness, seizures, tremors, etc.

Then there are some other such as abdominal fluid accumulating and causing swelling, skin and the gums becoming yellow, stomach pain, frequent urination, depression, bruising, paralysis, coma, lethargy, and black-colored feces.

How To Diagnose the Sago Palm Toxicity?

There is no specific analysis to detect the toxicity and identify the presence of cytosine. Furthermore, you can also not identify the amount of plant and the percentage of toxin in the body or how much it has affected it.

This makes it crucial that you keep a close eye on your animals, kids, and household pets so that you may detect any possible ingestion of this plant. Medical professionals need this knowledge desperately.

How to Prevent Injury When Working with the Cycad Palm?

Cycad palm handling, in general, shouldn’t be problematic. One of the signs of infection to this plant that has been described isn’t really contacted dermatitis. Nonetheless, whenever working with a plant that may be hazardous, it’s a wise option to use protective gear, safety glasses, and long sleeves. Additionally, wash your hands also after touching or trimming your Cycad plant.

How To Prevent Poisoning?

The Cycads are available under many labels, such as Cardboard Palm, Zamias, Japanese Sago Palm, King Sago, and Coontie Palms.

Please do your research to identify Cycad Palm whenever you encounter it at the store. Shops are not required by law to warn customers about the dangers of this plant. Although many people define it, several others do not. 

You must keep a record of the houseplants within and around your house and be prepared to give it to medical specialists upon demand.

Keep an eye out for potential hazards if you’re out alongside your kids, dogs, or animals. Make a note of any plants you come across on the route.

If you reside in a chilly region where Sago Palm has apparently died throughout the winter and is reviving in the springtime with sensitive, new shoots, then you ought to be extra cautious. During this period, animals might be particularly drawn to the plant.

Keep a watch year-round in hotter areas where such a tropical plant flourishes. According to vets, Sago Palm poisoning incidents represent a persistent hazard in tropical environments.

Vets and medical professionals often struggle to identify the underlying cause of illness if there isn’t witness testimony that the plant was consumed. It is possible to run urine and blood tests in the lab to find the reason.

Their statement does not convey the intensity or scope of your affirmative assessment of Sago Palm contact that Cycad Palm poisoning is conceivable. Being aware, vigilant, and educated on the topic can assist medical professionals in reaching a firm conclusion and starting treatment immediately.

Poisoned victims must receive treatment as soon as possible. If you have even the slightest suspicion that your pet or kid may have consumed a Cycad Palm, you should contact your vet or doctor and ask for guidance.

How To Treat Cycad Palm Poisoning?

There are many ways to treat poisoning; most are also conventional, such as induced vomiting if the poisoning is recent.

Oral administration of activated charcoal is frequently used to absorb poisons entering the gut.

It could also be helpful to conduct gastric lavage; it is a stomach pump that helps flush the abdomen of toxins and plant matter.

It is not advised to induce vomiting in cases of advanced poisoning. The patients’ vomit is easier to manage by giving antiemetic medicines instead. Furthermore, medical professionals may provide patients with gut protectants that help ease GI tract inflammation.

If the patient aspirates vomiting, late-stage signs could also result in pneumonia. Healthcare experts may prescribe antibiotics as a result. Medical professionals also give supplements to assist the liver.

Vitamin K is prescribed to patients to lessen both external and internal bleeding. Epilepsy drugs might well be given if the patient is having seizures.

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Wrapping It Up

In summary, if you ask, are cycad palms poisonous to humans? Yes! The likelihood of healing depends heavily on early discovery and prompt treatment. Full healing is achievable when treated quickly. Yet realize that this is not an isolated incident. A prolonged hospital stay and continued treatment may be necessary for recovery.

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