Veratrum poisoning.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Veratrum Stamineum / Hellebore poisoning
From: (Jonathan Treasure)
Date: 19 May 1995 16:11:54 +0100 (Kinnaman) wrote:
>Herb and Alternative Folks,
>Today we received this request on the Allergy mailing list, but I fear your newsgroups are more likely to have relevant comments.

Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 17:11:13 JST
From: wxyz <m940219m.EDS.ECIP.NAGOYA-U.AC.JP>
To: Multiple recipients of list ALLERGY <ALLERGY.TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: info.Veratrum Stamineum/Hellebore

I would be very grateful if you would please inform me about a poisonous plant called Veratrum Stamineum (apparently the plant is known as Hellebore in the West. It is a native plant from Asia). I am posting this question on behalf of a friend. She is gone to a forest in Asia and she ate the Veratrum Stamineum by mistake and was taken to hospital. The immediate symptoms were (temporary) convulsions, blindness and deafness. Because she was in a remote area, it took 40 minutes for her to receive medical treatment, and although her blood tests demonstrated that there were no severe consequences (she is having her liver checked again now) and she recuperated her sight and hearing functions later, she still complains about a certain pain in her ears. It seems that she received a good medical treatment and doctors said that the pain in her ears might disappear in some days. Since my friend is not in her home country and she does not speak the local language properly, she is still very frightened by the experience and she is very worried about the consequences of the poison. Thank you very much, indeed, for any information regarding this subject.

Hopefully this person is recovered by now: Hellebore is one of the handful of plants referred to in my post on toxicity that one needs to be certain that one can identify in order to avoid it. The American green veratrum is a little less toxic than the European V. album. The puzzling thing is that the rhizome is the toxic part so this person has dug up a root without knowing what it is, in land foreign to her and eaten it. Oh well......

The plant contains some viscious alkaloids which are cardiac depressant and hypotensive. It was used externally for severe trigeminal neuralgic pain,and had a history of use in uterine toxaemia but was discontinued due to its powerful and abortifacient effects - as far as I know is not used at all these days due to its high toxicity. Fortunately, as with a few other dangerous plants, nausea and vomitting tend to prevent severe poisoning.

If you don't know what it is - don't eat it is the moral.