Plants that give you rashes: 7 plants that will make you sting, itch and blister
7 plants that will make you sting, itch and blister
Marcus Schneck | [email protected]
Seven plants that will make you sting, itch and blister
Many plants cause skin irritation in humans. Different people react to the toxins in those plants differently and at different times in their lives.
Rash-, blister- and pain-causing toxins in many wild plants are everywhere in Pennsylvania, waiting for the slightest contact with some unsuspecting human. Depending upon your susceptibility, your reaction to some of them can range from mild to severe and requiring medical attention.
Here are seven common toxic plants that can give you a really bad day.
Marcus Schneck | [email protected]
Leaves of three, let it be
The trademark “leaves of three” makes poison ivy one of the easiest rash-makers to identify. It’s called trifoliate leaves, which means three leaves sprout at the same point on the stem. Poison ivy can grow as a vine, low shrub or ground cover. Poison ivy bears its fruit as clusters of greenish-white drupes, which are fleshy fruits each with a hard stone enclosing a seed inside.
The toxin, urushiol oil, is in the sap of the plant. Touching the plant can cause skin irritation, rashes and blisters.
Marcus Schneck | [email protected]
Close relative of poison ivy
Like its cousin, poison oak carries it leaves in trifoliate patterns on the stem. However, the leaves of the poison oak look like hairy oak leaves. Poison oak also can grow as a vine or shrub, and also bears its fruit as clusters of greenish-white drupes.
The same toxin, urushiol oil, as in poison ivy, causes the skin irritation, rashes and blisters from poison oak contact.
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Growing as a tall shrub or small tree to a height of 6-30 feet, poison sumac carries the same urushiol oil as poison ivy and poison oak, but in higher concentrations. Some botanists rate poison sumac as the most toxic plant in North America.
Skin reaction to poison sumac includes painful swellings and eruptions, but if the smoke from burning sumac leaves is inhaled the result can be a life-threatening pulmonary edema, whereby fluid enters the lungs.
Poison sumac normally grows in wet areas.
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An invader from Asia, giant hogweed was introduced to the U.S. in the early 20th century and is now growing throughout the northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. It’s a giant member of the carrot family, growing as tall as 14 feet or more, with hollow stems 2-4 inches in diameter and large compound leaves as much as five feet wide. The tiny white flowers grow in clusters similar to the flowerheads of Queen Anne’s lace, but much larger.
The sap of giant hogweed, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness.
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Also known as the poison parsnip, the wild parsnip is an aggressively invasive, non-native that has taken hold throughout the eastern U.S. It tends to colonize disturbed sites quickly. It grows 2-5 feet tall with tooth-edged basal leaves and small yellow flowers that grow in cluster similar to those of the Queen Anne’s lace.
Chemicals in the sap contains photosensitizing chemical compounds that are activated by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Exposure produces burnlike blisters.
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Native to Europe and Asia, stinging nettle found its way to North America and now grows coast to coast. It generally grows in highly invasive patches of single-stem plants 3-4 feet tall.
The stinging nettle is covered in small hairs. When touched those hairs “sting” with a nasty blend of histamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and formic acid. Skin reaction of localized pain, reddish swelling, itching and numbness generally last for a few hours maximum before resolving on their own.
Marcus Schneck | [email protected]
Also known as Canada nettle, the low-standing wood nettle grows in open woods with moist soils, along streams and in drainages. It often grows into small clumps. Each plant has both stinging and non-stinging hairs on the foliage and the stems. It has small, whitish green flowers spring to early fall.
Contact with the stinging hairs will produce a painful burning sensation, following by rash and blistering, which can last for several days.
Marcus Schneck | [email protected]
More scary stuff
For another look at additional scariness lurking in the Pennsylvania outdoors, check out this slide show on wildlife-borne diseases in Pennsylvania.
Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants
Compositae dermatitis images supplied by Dr Shahbaz A. Janjua
What is the treatment for plant dermatitis?
Plant dermatitis is self-limiting. It clears up without treatment, as long as exposure to the plant is avoided. Topical steroids, and sometimes by oral steroids may be necessary to treat the rash. If there are blisters, compress the areas for 15 minutes twice daily with a mixture of a tablespoon of white vinegar in a litre of water. Ice packs or cold showers will temporarily relieve itching. Steroids are less effective when the skin is blistered. Avoid soap as it irritates.
The only way to prevent plant dermatitis is to avoid contact with the responsible plant when it has been identified. Your dermatologist may be able to organise allergy testing (patch tests). We do not test for reactions to the most strongly allergenic plants because the tests could themselves create a new allergy. Many plants also cause irritant dermatitis and so patch tests must be performed and interpreted by an expert.
Poison Ivy Rash in Children
What is poison ivy rash?
Poison ivy rash is an allergic reaction to poison ivy. Poison ivy is very common plant in the U.S. It is similar to two other plants called poison oak and poison sumac. The plants cause allergic dermatitis. This means the body’s immune system releases certain chemicals that cause a skin reaction. Most children are allergic to poison ivy.
What causes poison ivy rash in a child?
Poison ivy has oil called urushiol. This oil causes the allergic skin reaction. The oil is easily wiped from the plants to other objects. These include clothes, toys, and pets. Smoke from a burning plant can also contain the oil.
Which children are at risk for poison ivy rash?
Children who live near the plants are at risk for the skin reaction. There are different types of these plants around the country. They are:
- Poison ivy. This is a ground or climbing vine with leaves grouped in threes in most of the U.S. Another type grows as a shrub in the Western U.S.
- Poison oak. This is a ground or climbing vine or shrub with leaves grouped in threes. One type grows on the West coast and another type grows mostly in the Southeast.
- Poison sumac. This is a shrub or small tree with groups of several leaves arranged in pairs. It grows in very wet areas.
What are the symptoms of poison ivy rash in a child?
Your child may have symptoms within hours or days after coming in contact with poison ivy. The symptoms include:
- Small bumps where the plant oil touched the skin that quickly turn into blisters
- Severe itching
- Redness and swelling
- Blisters that break, ooze fluid, and crust over. The fluid in the blisters doesn’t spread the rash.
The symptoms of poison ivy rash can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is poison ivy rash diagnosed in a child?
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
How is poison ivy rash treated in a child?
Your child’s rash may be treated with over-the counter medicines. You can also help ease your child’s symptoms with the following:
- Bathing your child in water with colloidal oatmeal
- Applying cool, wet cloths (compresses)
- Using calamine lotion or corticosteroid cream on the skin
- Giving your child diphenhydramine liquid by mouth, if itching is making it hard for your child to sleep
Call the healthcare provider if your child:
- Inhaled smoke from a burning poison ivy plant
- Has the rash on his or her face
- Has a severe rash
- Has a rash on a large part of his or her body
In these cases, your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe a prescription medicine such as:
- Corticosteroid cream
- Corticosteroid pills or liquid
- Corticosteroid shot (injection)
What are the possible complications of poison ivy rash in a child?
The rash may become infected with bacteria.
What can I do to prevent poison ivy rash in my child?
A poison ivy rash can be prevented by avoiding contact with the plant. Creams containing bentoquatum may be used as a barrier on the skin if contact with the plant is likely.
The rash can’t spread from one person to another. But oil on your child’s skin can spread to another person who may then get the rash. To help prevent a poison ivy rash:
- Teach all family members to recognize the plants and stay away from them.
- Make sure your child wears pants, long sleeves, and shoes and socks when in areas where the plants grow.
- Wash your child’s clothes and shoes right after he or she has been in areas where the plants grow.
- Make sure your child doesn’t touch a pet that might have been in contact with the plants. Wash your pet after is has contact with the plant.
- Make sure your child showers or bathes with soap and warm water if he or she has been in an area where the plants grow. To remove all plant oil, help your child wash all areas of his or her body very well.
When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
- Symptoms not relieved by over-the-counter medicine
- Rash on his or her face
- Severe rash
- Rash that covers a lot of your child’s body
- Signs of a skin infection, such as increased redness, warmth, swelling, or fluid
Key points about poison ivy rash in children
- Poison ivy, oak, and sumac cause an allergic skin reaction. The reaction is caused by oil from the plant.
- Avoiding contact with the poison ivy plant is the best prevention.
- Washing the skin after touching the plant can prevent a rash.
- The fluid from the blisters doesn’t make poison ivy spread. But oil on the skin can cause a rash if wiped on another person.
- In most cases, poison ivy rash can be treated at home.
- A poison ivy rash may be treated with soothing products, calamine lotion, or corticosteroids creams, pills, liquids, or injections.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Good Advice for Gardeners: What’s That Rash?
Poisonous life overwhelms many gardens, and as summer arrives and patients head outside, poison ivy becomes a timely concern.
Many patients forget to wear protective clothing while doing yard work, which leaves them vulnerable to accidentally encountering poisonous plants. Many others are unaware that OTC barrier topicals containing quaternium-18 bentonite can prevent rash.
Retail clinicians are well-placed in their communities to ensure patients are aware of the types of poisonous plants and how they can protect themselves from exposure.Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are well-known for their urushiol-containing sap. Approximately half of American adults are sensitive to these plants and can develop an itchy red rash up to 4 days after exposure. As the rash ripens, blisters usually appear in streaks.
Patients may fail to realize that direct contact isn’t the only way to develop a rash from urushiol oils. The oils can also persist on gardening tools, gloves, and clothing, while pets can carry the oil to unsuspecting humans.
Airborne contact is possible if the plants are burned, which releases urushiol into the air. Airborne exposure usually leads to widespread rash and can cause severe irritation in the respiratory tract.
Good gardening advice is, “Leaves of 3, let it be,” but poison ivy and other urushiol-containing sap plants aren’t the only rash-producing plants in the petunia patch. Retail clinicians should advise their outdoorsy patients to be wary of the following plants:
â–ºStinging nettle plants are carpeted with sharp hairs resembling tiny hypodermic needles. A quick brush on exposed skin can lead to histamine or acetylcholine release and blotchy hives within an hour of exposure. The rash usually resolves spontaneously in a few hours. Strawberries, onions, garlic, tulips, and lilies can also cause hives.
â–ºSpiny, thorny, or glochid (barbed spine or bristle-bearing) plants can deposit plant material in the dermis, causing itchy, bumpy eruptions. Usually, the rash resolves without incident, but irritated areas can become infected with staph or fungal infections.
â–ºSome patients react to goldenrod, daisy, or tansy, which contain sesquiterpene lactones.
â–ºRue, a spring-blooming plant with pretty blue-green foliage, can cause phytophotodermatitis—a rash caused by 1) exposure to a plant that contains psoralens, and 2) followed by exposure to ultraviolet light. Giant hogweed, limes, Queen Anne’s lace, bergamot oranges, and celery can also cause this reaction.
Treatment depends on the patient’s exposure and reaction.
If spines, thorns, or glochids are implicated, they should be removed carefully with tweezers. Some particles are extremely small; for these, apply glue and gauze to the site, allow it to dry, and peel it off.
Minor itching, irritation, or rash can be treated with oral antihistamines or OTC topical steroids. If the rash is more extensive or uncomfortable, a more potent topical steroid can be considered. Severe rash mandates a strong topical steroid or a 2- to 3-week course of oral steroids.
For poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, retail clinicians should advise lukewarm baths and soaks with products containing aluminum acetate, calamine, or topical steroids. Additionally, oral antihistamines will lessen itching and skin irritation, but avoid topical antihistamines. Some patients are allergic to these products, which can aggravate the problem.
Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Rash
Not what you’re looking for?
What is poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash?
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are types of American
plants. They each grow in different parts of the country. The plants cause allergic
contact dermatitis in most people who touch them. The rash is caused by the body’s
reaction to an oil in the plants called urushiol.
The first time you touch one of the plants, you may not get a
rash. This is because your body’s allergic response is not yet sensitive to it. The
next time you touch one of the plants, your body may react in 24 to 72 hours. The
rash can’t spread from one person to another. But plant oils on skin and clothes can
pass from one person to another and cause a rash.
What causes poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash?
The plants make an oil called urushiol. This oil gets on your skin
if you touch the plants. And it’s easily spread from the plants to other objects.
These include garden tools, clothing, toys, and pet fur. You can also inhale it from
smoke if the plants are burned. Urushiol can stay active on any surface for a year
or more and still cause skin rash. The rash doesn’t show up right away. But you can
spread the oils around your body without knowing it.
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash is not contagious. It can’t be
spread from person to person by touching the blisters, or from the fluid inside the
blisters. But oil that remains on skin, clothes, or shoes can be spread to another
person and cause a rash.
Who is at risk for poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash?
You are more at risk for the allergic rash if you:
- Go outdoors in an area where poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- Don’t know how to identify and stay away from the
- Touch clothing or objects of someone with the rash
- Touch a pet who has been outside in contact with the
- Work in job where you are around these plants. This includes
farming, forestry, and firefighting.
What are the symptoms of poison ivy, oak, and sumac
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. The symptoms
most often include a red, bumpy, itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters. The blisters
break open, ooze fluid, and then crust over. The area of skin may also be swollen.
Swelling can mean the allergic reaction is more severe.
The symptoms of poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash can look like
other health conditions. Other plants and chemicals can cause a similar rash. Make
sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and health
history. They will give you a physical exam. The physical exam will include looking
closely at your skin.
How is poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general
health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment is done to reduce itching. Itching can be treated with
any of these:
- Calamine lotion
- Steroid cream
- Baths with baking soda or colloidal oatmeal
- Steroid medicine by mouth or shot
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe antihistamine
medicine. This medicine won’t relieve itching. But it may help you sleep better and
let you ignore the itch. Check with your provider if you have questions or concerns
about taking an antihistamine.
In some cases, you may need urgent treatment if you have a severe
reaction and swelling.
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and
possible side effects of all medicines.
What are possible complications of poison ivy, oak, and sumac
In some people, a severe reaction can occur. This causes swelling
or trouble with breathing or swallowing. This is a medical emergency and needs
treatment right away. If you have a severe reaction, make sure this is documented
your medical records.
Infection is another possible complication. The areas can also
become infected from scratching. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an
antibiotic medicine to take by mouth.
Can poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash be prevented?
To help prevent poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash:
- Find out which of these plants grow in your area.
- Learn what they look like. Teach all family members what the
plants look like.
- Stay away from the plants when outdoors.
When you go outdoors:
- Wear long pants and long sleeves when in the woods or
- Wash all clothes and shoes right away after being
- Don’t touch a pet that may have been in contact with one of
the plants. Use gloves to wash your pet’s fur, if possible. Your pets can pass
the oil on to you.
- Wash your hands well, including under your fingernails.
- If you wear gloves for yard work, use heavy-duty vinyl
gloves instead of gloves made from rubber or latex. The oil from the plant can
get through these materials onto your skin.
- If you are very sensitive or are often exposed to these
plants, you can use bentoquatam 5% cream (Ivy Block) on all exposed areas of
your skin. This makes a layer of protection between your skin and any sap oil
you may touch. Follow directions, because you may need to reapply the cream.
Even if you use the cream, still wear long pants and long sleeves.
If you come in contact with the plants:
- Remove the oil from your skin as soon as possible. This
includes under your fingernails. The sooner you wash, the better chance of
removing the oil (urushiol). This may help to make the reaction less
- Gently wash your skin with lukewarm water (not hot) and
plain soap 3 times. Rinse after each wash.
- If you don’t have soap, use alcohol-based wipes to remove
- Wash the clothes and shoes you were wearing. The oil can
stay on your clothes and spread from person to person.
- Don’t scratch. Scratching can cause infection.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call the healthcare provider right away if any of these are
- You have inhaled smoke from a burning plant
- The rash is on your face
- The rash is near your genitals
- The rash covers a large part of your body
- You have large blisters
- You have swelling
- Nothing relieves the itching
- Itching keeps you from sleeping
- You have a fever of 100. 4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed
by your provider
- The rash doesn’t go away in a few weeks
or go to the emergency room if
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling on your face or near your eyes
Key points about poison ivy, oak, and sumac rash
- Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that
cause an allergic rash in most people who touch them. The rash is caused by a
reaction to an oil in the plants called urushiol.
- The rash can’t be spread from person to person by touching
the blisters, or from the fluid inside the blisters. But oil that remains on
skin, clothes, or shoes can be spread to another person and cause a rash.
- Treatment is done to reduce itching. Itching can be treated
with lotion, cream, or medicine by mouth.
- In some cases, you may need urgent treatment if you have a
severe reaction and swelling.
- If you have a severe reaction, make sure this is documented
in your medical records.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to
- Before your visit, write down questions you want
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and
remember what your provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and
any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions
your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how
it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the
results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have
the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date,
time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your provider if you have
Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.
Not what you’re looking for?
90,000 10 dangerous plants to stay away from
These dangerous plants are less known than nettles, although many of them burn much harder. At the same time, they can be found in your favorite park, along the sidewalk on which you walk to work, on the green lawn where you decided to have a picnic.
1. Sosnovsky’s hogweed
This giant “dill” with large white inflorescences on thick stems can reach three meters in height.If you see this, don’t get close.
Hogweed juice contains furanocoumarins, which deprive the skin of UV protection. Therefore, burns and large blisters appear on the affected areas, even under the gentle morning or evening sun. And if the juice gets on the mucous eyes, you can go blind.
For the sake of fairness, let’s say that there are also non-dangerous species of hogweed. Some of them are even eaten. For example, for cooking borscht, hence the name.
But if you are not a botanist and are not sure that specific umbrellas and the stems with leaves located under them are harmless, it is better not to risk it.
2. Meadow parsnip
This is also an umbrella plant. True, it is smaller and with dull yellow inflorescences. Parsnip juice and pollen contains 90,021 psoralens – substances that, like furanocoumarins in hogweed, increase the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight. The result is burns (stripes, spots, rash, blisters) that appear on the affected area within 24 hours after contact. The most dangerous parsnip is considered during the flowering period, that is, in July – August.
The name sounds gentle, even touching, but this plant is only externally a flower (yes, yellow, beautiful). Berries start after contact.
Poisonous buttercup juice causes severe skin irritation – with itching and blisters. Once in the mouth and nose, the pollen of the flower provokes coughing and spasms of the larynx.
So collecting buttercup bouquets and smelling them is absolutely not worth it.
4. Larkspur (delphinium)
This plant is also from the insidious buttercup family, although it seems that its tall, covered with small blue and purple flowers, the stems are nothing like buttercup.
On contact with skin, larkspur sap and pollen can cause irritation, similar to that caused by contact with stinging nettles.
Sometimes delphinium flowers are bred as decorative ones. In this case, you can work with them only with gloves, and also drive children and pets away from the flowers.
5. Lumbago (sleep-grass)
Another relative of the seemingly harmless, but predatory buttercup. Its juice contains poisonous alkaloids that cause inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. Therefore, it is advisable to tear such flowers with gloves.
6. Poisonous oak
This beautiful shrub with almost glossy leaves saturated with sap belongs to the genus toxicodendrons – “toxic trees”, if this name is literally translated from Latin.
Its leaves and stems contain urushiol oil . It irritates the skin and can cause severe allergies – an itchy red rash with bumps and blisters.
According to experts from the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), severe reactions even require 90,021 urgent medical attention.
7. Poison ivy
The closest relative of the poison oak, and has the same habits. It is easy to distinguish it from other ivy: each branch of the poisonous ivy ends in three glossy leaves.Depending on the season, the leaves can be either green or beautiful yellow, orange or even red.
8. Ash tree (burning bush)
Ash tree forms a slender bush with many beautiful inflorescences and is often used as a decoration for gardens. But this showy plant is dangerous. When its seeds ripen, a huge amount of essential oil is released. If you bring a match to the plant, a flame will flare up over it. In this case, the ash tree itself will not suffer.This curious feature was the reason for the appearance of the second name – the burning bush.
Do not touch the ash tree without gloves and closed clothing . You will not feel anything right away, but after about a day, burns with blisters may appear on the affected area of the skin. Later, the bubbles will burst, leaving scars in their place.
All kinds of this huge genus of plants are sometimes very different from each other: some look like wildflowers, others like cacti … One thing unites all representatives: caustic milky juice , which gave the genus its name.
This juice is toxic . It leaves burns on the skin, and once on the mucous membrane of the eye, it causes a sharp burning sensation and temporary blindness. Later, symptoms such as fever, malaise and swelling may appear.
10. Castor bean
This plant is a source of castor oil. But during the preparation of the oil, the castor bean fruits undergo a powerful steam treatment, which destroys the toxins contained in them. But if the toxins are not removed, problems can arise.
You can touch the castor oil plant. But you shouldn’t pluck it: if you accidentally damage the skin of the fruit, you may get a dose of ricin. Once in the mouth (for example, from poorly washed hands), this substance can cause 90,021 to develop gastroenteritis, including fatal. Additional side effects are neurological disorders and lesions of the mucous membranes of the eyes.
How to make sure that there is a poisonous plant in front of you
It is rather difficult to distinguish a dangerous plant from a safe one.Often only a professional botanist can handle this task. Therefore, there is only one advice: if in doubt, it is better not to approach.
Literary experts can use the PlantNet application. Just take a photo of the plant, indicate your location (to speed up the search) – and get the most likely name for your flower.
What to do if you touch a poisonous plant
- Rinse your skin with running water as soon as possible, or at least wipe with a damp cloth.
- Apply an antihistamine cream to the affected area to reduce irritation symptoms.
- Take an antihistamine. Anyone will do, just follow the instructions carefully.
- When it comes to contact with plants that make your skin sensitive to sunlight, try to hide from the sun for the next few days: spend more time indoors and wear long sleeves.
What dangerous plants are found in central Russia
Umbrellas with purple-speckled stems, leaves that look like parsley or carrots, and an unpleasant “mouse” smell are found along river banks and in other wet places.This is one of the most dangerous plants in central Russia! Spotted hemlock and related species contain a powerful poison that causes nausea, muscle weakness, convulsions, respiratory arrest and death.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
In ancient Greece, hemlock extract was given to convicts to be executed. It is believed that the philosopher Socrates, who was sentenced for blasphemy and corruption of youth, also drank it. Later, hemlock began to be used in folk medicine, but it is because of this that poisoning most often occurs.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially seeds and roots. It happens that children unknowingly eat it. But there is a risk even if the plant sap just gets on the skin, especially if you put food in your mouth without washing your hands. In case of poisoning, you must immediately call an ambulance, rinse the stomach, take activated charcoal.
Hemlock vaguely resembles a poisonous milestone, or hemlock. Cicuta is also an umbrella plant that loves moisture. It can be distinguished by its stem without purple spots and a massive root with cavities and partitions inside.This root smells good and thus attracts the boys who eat it.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
This should never be done: the hemlock root is deadly poisonous. For a long time it was believed that the poison for Socrates was prepared from this plant, and not hemlock, but the description of the symptoms did not fit. With hemlock poisoning, muscle weakness and respiratory arrest come to the fore, and in the case of hemlock, seizures like epileptic ones. However, nausea, diarrhea, and many other symptoms are the same.
The hemlock root is especially dangerous, but the rest of the plant is also poisonous. If you eat the leaves or the stem, then death probably will not occur, but still you should not risk it. If you suspect poisoning, you should immediately consult a doctor: supportive therapy in most cases helps to stay alive.
Another dangerous umbrella plant is Sosnovsky’s hogweed, which cannot be confused with anything because of its enormous size.Fleshy long stems with spreading leaves attracted the attention of livestock breeders: cow parsnip was brought from the Caucasus and began to be grown in the middle lane to feed cows. True, it turned out that due to such a diet, milk acquires a strange and rather unpleasant taste.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
In agriculture, the cow parsnip was abandoned, but it grew along the roadsides, in the fields and turned into a real attack. The problem is that the villi on its surface contain substances that make the skin so sensitive to the sun’s rays that the affected area is covered with painful blisters.The plant is especially dangerous on a clear day and for people with pale skin. If you rub your eyes, you can go blind. At the same time, at first, a person does not feel anything special – a burn occurs only after a few hours, and sometimes days.
After contact with cow parsnip, wash the skin thoroughly with a soft sponge and soap, close the damaged areas so that the sun’s rays do not fall on them for two or three days. Blisters are treated with an antiseptic and bandaged, and antihistamines also help.With burns, you need to go to an ambulance or a doctor.
Aconites – popularly called wrestlers – are a whole genus of the buttercup family, although because of the color-helmets they look more like legumes. In the middle lane, aconites do not germinate well and are rarely found in nature, but gardeners love them because of the large brushes of blue-violet color. On a flowerbed, fighters can be difficult to distinguish from larkspur: the difference is again in flowers – in larkspur it is open.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
Both larkspur and fighters are poisonous, but fighters are deadly: to die, it is enough to eat two or four grams of the plant.Even inhaling pollen is dangerous. But most often people are poisoned with alcoholic tinctures and aconite decoctions, which are used for joint pain and cancer.
In large doses, aconite interferes with the heart rate, inhibits respiration, and causes paralysis. There is no antidote, as with most herbal poisons, so only washing and symptomatic treatment are performed. But toxic substances are absorbed through the stomach in about an hour – if there are a lot of them, then after that there is almost no hope of salvation.
Like aconites, ash trees are more often found in flower beds than in forests and meadows. They attract attention with beautiful pink flowers with dark veins, long petals and curved stamens. I want to smell them or collect a bouquet from them, but in no case should this be done.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
Ash trees contain a lot of essential oils. If you bring a match to them on a sunny day, a fire will break out. That is why these flowers are also called the burning bush: the flame does not harm the plant.But the essential oils secreted by the flowers and leaves of ash trees damage the skin and mucous membranes like Sosnovsky’s cow parsnip.
As a rule, wounds appear on the face and from the hand to the elbow. A person does not feel anything when he sniffs or touches ash trees, but soon blisters appear on the affected areas, then they burst and turn into painful ulcers that do not heal for a long time and leave marks. With these symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Lily of the valley
Lily of the valley is considered a symbol of purity and love, but this plant is very poisonous, and in its entirety.The toxic properties of lily of the valley were even used in the script of the cult series Breaking Bad, where the protagonist, a chemist, almost killed a six-year-old child by treating him with delicious red-orange berries of lily of the valley. At least, everything indicates that it was he who did it.
Lily of the valley
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
But more often they are poisoned with lily of the valley when they use it as a heart remedy. The substances contained in it really help with heart failure and tachycardia, only in strictly defined quantities.If you drink a tincture or a decoction, you can achieve the opposite effect: the heart will fail, and before that the pressure will jump, vomiting, diarrhea, headache will begin, a rash will appear on the skin, the person will feel disoriented and lethargic. In the worst case, death will come. Therefore, if you have a chance to try lily of the valley and your health has deteriorated, you need to urgently call an ambulance, rinse your stomach and take activated charcoal.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
The wolf bast has other alarming names: deadly wolfberry, bad man.They were given for a reason. Although this plant is used in folk medicine, and in former times it was rubbed with it instead of blush, after contact with wolf bast, you can really die. All parts of it are dangerous. If you try to pluck a branch (it breaks off with difficulty), irritation will appear on the skin, but even worse – eat bright red berries that grow directly on the branches, like sea buckthorn.
Berries cause a burning sensation in the mouth, so you can’t eat a lot of them. Another thing is that you can swallow them whole and get a dangerous dose of poisons: only three or four pieces can be fatal for a child, and a little more for an adult.Because of the wolf’s bast, it becomes difficult to breathe, there is pain in the abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions are also possible. In severe cases, death occurs.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
Castor oil plant can often be found in city flower beds or garden plots. Sometimes it grows up to several meters in height, it has large leaves with diverging rays, often with a beautiful purple tint. Children are especially attracted by the fruits of the plant – bright red, brown or green capsules with long thorns on the outside and variegated seeds on the inside.The well-known castor oil is obtained from castor bean seeds, but they also contain the deadly substance ricin, which, by the way, was also used by the main character of the series “Breaking Bad”.
Castor oil causes severe poisoning with severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and seizures that lasts for about a week. Fortunately, if you just swallow a couple of seeds, you probably won’t die. But if you chew them, you can get a lethal dose of poison.In addition, ricin often irreversibly affects the internal organs, so it’s better to just admire castor oil.
© Alexey Durasov / TASS
Unlike the bad guy, celandine is a deceptive name. This small plant with yellow flowers, which blooms twice a season, is really used in folk medicine as an antibacterial agent (and as a choleretic agent, and against warts, and for mastopathy), and some young mothers bathe their babies in a decoction of celandine.But celandine is poisonous, so you should not do this.
As with other medicinal plants, you cannot guess with celandine what the concentration of active substances is. Indirectly, this is indicated by its juice: when it is of a rich orange color (usually in hot summer), there are many substances. But how many of them will get into the broth or tincture cannot be measured with improvised means. Celandine preparations should be taken only under medical supervision: there is a risk of liver damage. It is better not to collect the plant even for bouquets: celandine juice can irritate the skin.
– You cannot eat unknown berries and roots: an upset intestine is still nothing, but you can die.
– You need to be careful with medicinal plants: the content of active substances depends on the season, air temperature, soil composition and other factors.
– Not all plants can be touched with bare hands, but if you do, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water, especially before eating.
– If symptoms of poisoning occur, you should immediately consult a doctor and take activated charcoal just in case.- You need to tell the children about all this and show them dangerous plants.
The editors would like to thank the leading researcher of the VILAR Botanical Garden Tatyana Zagumennikova and Professor of the Moscow Agricultural Academy for their help in preparing the material. K. A. Timiryazeva Elena Malankina
90,000 Why We Suffer From Allergies: A New Explanation
- Karl Zimmer
- BBC Future
Photo Credit, SPL
Allergic reactions to everything from pollen to peanuts are poisoning the lives of millions of people …But why does our body react so painfully to such seemingly harmless stimuli? The correspondent tried to figure it out.
BBC Future .
In my case, it was hornets.
One summer day, when I was 12 years old, I found myself in a tall grassy field not far from a friend’s house and kicked a hornet’s nest the size of a soccer ball. A squadron of angry insects dug into my leg. Their stings pierced me like red-hot needles.I tried to brush the hornets off myself and started running, but after a few minutes I felt that something was wrong with me. A constellation of pink dots has formed around the bites. They began to swell, the rash crawled higher up the legs. I started having an allergic reaction.
A friend’s mom gave me some kind of antihistamine and loaded me into her van. As we drove to the county hospital, I became more and more afraid. I had a very vague idea of the horrors that happen when an allergy breaks loose.I imagined a rash creeping up to my throat and sealing it.
But I survived and now I can tell this story. In the hospital, the rash gradually subsided, but a constant fear of hornets remained. An allergic reaction test showed that I am susceptible to insects. And not to honey bees or various wasps, but to a specific species of hornets that stung me. The emergency room doctor warned me that the next time I stumbled upon their nest, I might be less fortunate.She gave me an EpiPen and told me that I should immediately stick the injector in my thigh if the hornet stings me again. The antiallergic drug epinephrine in the injection will lower my blood pressure, clear my airways, and possibly save my life.
In general, I was lucky. 35 years have passed since that day, and during all this time I have never come across a hornet’s nest.
Such a different allergy
Every person suffering from allergies has their own history of its occurrence.This is the story of how he discovered that his immune system goes haywire when some arbitrary but very specific molecule enters the body. There are hundreds of millions of such stories. In the United States alone, there are 18 million people suffering from hay fever. Food allergies affect millions of American children. Various types of allergies are becoming increasingly common in many other countries. A far from complete list of allergens includes latex, gold, plant pollen (ragweed, chaff and amaranth pollen are especially dangerous), penicillin, insect venom, peanuts, papaya, jellyfish tentacle burns, perfume, eggs, feces of domestic dust mites, pecans, salmon , beef and nickel.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Insect allergies can take the worst forms
Once these substances cause an allergy, it can manifest itself in a range of symptoms, from annoying to fatal. A rash appears, the lips swell. Hay fever is accompanied by a runny nose and sore eyes. Food allergies can manifest with vomiting and diarrhea. In an unfortunate minority, allergies can almost instantly trigger a potentially fatal whole-body reaction known as anaphylactic shock.
The cumulative burden of all these misfortunes is colossal, while the range of treatments is limited. EpiPen ( is also known in Russia as EpiPen – Red .) Can save lives, but the long-term treatments available to doctors offer mixed results for people plagued by mold allergies or the annual appearance of pollen. Antihistamines often relieve the allergy sufferer’s symptoms, but these medications cause drowsiness.
We could have a more effective treatment if scientists could understand the nature of allergies.However, the intricacies of the various causes of allergic reactions are such that they can be maddening. Cells are excited, chemicals are released, signals are transmitted. Scientists have so far only partially described this process. But behind all this biochemical web lies an even more intriguing mystery: why do we have allergies at all?
“This is exactly the problem that I love,” Ruslan Medzhitov told me recently. “It is very great, it is fundamental and absolutely unexplored.”
Medzhitov and I walked leisurely through his laboratory, which is located on the top floor of the William Anliyan Center for Medical Research and Education at Yale School of Medicine. His team of postdoctoral and graduate students barely squeeze between human-sized oxygen tanks and incubators filled with immune cells. “We’ve got a mess here, but it’s a productive mess,” he says with a shrug. Medzhitov has a boxer’s face – massive, round, with a wide flat nose.However, his speech is distinguished by the grace of expression.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Everyone has their own allergy symptoms
Indeed, the disorder that reigns in Medzhitov’s laboratory is extremely productive. Over the past 20 years, he has made many fundamental discoveries in the field of immunology and has received a number of the most prestigious awards. In the past, he became the first recipient of the newly established Else Krener Fresenius Prize in the amount of 4 million euros (of which 3.5 million go to research, and half a million to the scientist personally).Although Melzhitov did not receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine, many of his fellow scientists believe that he is more than worthy of this award. In 2011, 26 leading immunologists published a letter in the journal Nature protesting that the Nobel Committee had not chosen him.
Now Medzhitov’s attention is focused on a question, the answer to which can make another revolution in immunology: why are we prone to allergies? No one has a firm answer. However, the theory that is now considered the leading one claims that allergies are a kind of misfires when the body’s defenses against parasitic worms are triggered.In the industrialized world, where such infections have become rare, the system disproportionately responds to completely harmless objects, which makes us suffer in the process of such a defensive reaction.
According to Medzhitov, this is not true. Allergies are not just biological errors. In fact, they are an effective defense against harmful chemicals. These remedies served our ancestors for tens of millions of years and continue to serve us today. Medzhitov admits that this theory is controversial.But at the same time, he is confident that history will prove him right. “I think the situation will change 180 degrees compared to the stage when the idea itself is fiercely opposed,” he told me. “The moment will come when everyone will say:“ Well, yes, this is obvious. Of course, this is how it happens. “
Doctors of the ancient world knew about allergies. Three thousand years ago, Chinese doctors described a” plant fever “that caused runny nose in the fall.There is evidence that the Egyptian pharaoh Menes, the founder of the First Dynasty, died of a wasp bite in 2641 BC, although according to another version he was killed by a hippo while hunting. Two and a half thousand years later, the Roman philosopher Lucretius wrote: “What is food for one, is poison for another.”
Photo author, Thinkstock
Sometimes allergies pass with age
But only a little over a century ago, scientists realized that all these diverse symptoms are different heads of the same hydra.By that time, researchers had already established that bacteria and other pathogens are the cause of many diseases, and we repel the attacks of these enemies with our immune system – an army of cells that can release deadly chemicals that precisely target antibodies. They further found out that the immune system can do harm.
At the beginning of the 1900s. French scientists Charles Richet and Paul Portier studied the effects of toxins on the body. They administered small doses of sea anemone venom to the dogs, and a week later, if the dog survived, injected it with an even lower dose.Within a few minutes the dog was in shock and died. Instead of protecting the animal from harm, the immune system made it even more susceptible to the toxin. ( For the discovery of this phenomenon, which he gave the name of anaphylaxis, Richet received the Nobel Prize in 1913 – Ed.)
Other scientists have found that certain medications cause rashes and other symptoms. Sensitivity increases with exposure, as opposed to the protection against infectious diseases that antibodies provide.The Austrian pediatrician and tuberculosis diagnostician Clemens von Pirke wondered how substances that enter the body can change the nature of its reaction. To describe this process, he coined the term “allergy” in 1906, made up of the Greek words ἄλλος (other) and ἔργον (work, exposure).
In the decades that followed, scientists discovered that the molecular stages of these reactions were strikingly similar. The process begins when the allergen enters one of the body surfaces – skin, eyes, nasopharynx, mouth, respiratory tract, intestines.These surfaces are replete with immune cells that act as border guards. When a guard encounters an allergen, he absorbs and destroys the intruder, and then decorates the outer surface with fragments of this substance. Then the cell finds some kind of lymphatic tissue. There, it transfers the fragments to another immune cell, which produces fork-shaped antibodies known as immunoglobulin E or IgE.
These antibodies activate a response when they encounter an allergen again.The reaction begins when an antibody activates a component of the immune system known as a mast cell or mast cell, which explodes and releases a swarm of chemicals. Some of these chemicals cling to nerve endings and cause itching and coughing. Sometimes mucus appears. The muscles in the larynx contract and it becomes difficult to breathe.
Photo author, Thinkstock
People are escaping allergies in different ways – someone tries to wear a mask …
This painting, recreated in laboratories over the past century, reveals part of the mystery of allergy indicated by the question ” how?”.The question “why?” Remains unanswered. This is surprising because there is a very clear answer to this question, which is mostly provided by the immune system. Our ancestors were constantly attacked by pathogens. Natural selection favored those mutations that helped them repel these attacks; and these mutations accumulated to eventually create the sophisticated defense system that we have today.
It was more difficult to understand how natural selection could lead to allergies.A powerful immune response to harmless things could hardly have contributed to the survival of our ancestors. In addition, allergies are oddly selective. Only a few people are allergic, and only a few substances are allergens. In some people, allergies begin to manifest themselves far from a young age, sometimes the allergies from which they suffered in childhood disappear. And for decades, no one could understand what IgE is and what its properties are. He did not show the ability to stop any viruses or bacteria.It looked like our body was producing some special kind of antibodies – just to ruin our lives.
One of the first clues appeared in 1964. Parasitologist Bridget Ogilvy investigated how the immune system counteracts parasitic roundworms – nematodes. She found that rats infected with these parasites produced large amounts of a substance later called IgE. Further research has shown that these antibodies signal the immune system to launch a devastating counterattack against the worms.
Parasitic worms pose a serious threat not only to rats, but also to humans. Hookworm worms affect, in particular, the intestines and suck blood. Liver flukes can destroy liver tissue and cause cancer. Tapeworms can invade the brain and form cysts. More than 20% of people on Earth are carriers of helminthic infestations, most of them live in low-income countries. Before the advent of modern health care systems and food safety control, our ancestors were forced to fight worms, as well as ticks and other parasites throughout their lives.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Allergies to pets are quite common
In the 1980s. several scientists have argued vigorously for the relationship between parasites and allergies. Probably, our ancestors in the process of evolution developed the ability to recognize proteins (proteins) on the surface of worms and respond by producing IgE antibodies. The antibodies “ignite” the cells of the immune system on the skin and in the intestines to stop the parasite’s attempt to enter the body as soon as possible.”We have about an hour of time at our disposal to respond decisively and lower the parasites’ chances of survival,” says Professor David Dunn, a parasitologist and immunologist at the University of Cambridge.
According to the parasitic theory, the proteins of the worms have the same shape as other molecules that we constantly encounter in life. If we encounter such molecules, we turn to a pointless defense. “Allergies are nothing more than an unfortunate side effect of warding off parasitic worms,” says Dunn.
When Medzhitov was just starting to study immunology, he was taught the parasitic doctrine of the origin of allergy. However, 10 years ago, he began to have doubts on this score. “I saw it didn’t explain anything,” he says. Therefore, Medzhitov pondered his own theory on this score.
Reflections make up a considerable part of Medzhitov’s scientific work. This is a legacy from his years of study in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s, when the country’s universities had little equipment and even less interest in training good scientists.Medzhitov’s student years were spent at the Tashkent State University in Uzbekistan. Every autumn, professors ( according to the order of the communist party organs – Ed.) sent students to the field to help collective farmers in the cotton harvest. We worked every day from dawn to dusk. “It was awful,” says Medzhitov. “If you didn’t work, you were expelled from the university.” He recalls how he secretly took textbooks on biochemistry with him into the field, for which he was punished.
Photo author, Thinkstock
Plants blooming, pollen – the most powerful allergens
It was no better in graduate school.He came to study at Moscow State University immediately after the collapse of the Soviet regime. The university turned out to be bankrupt, Medzhitov did not have the equipment necessary to conduct experiments. “I have been reading and thinking almost all my time,” Medzhitov told me.
He was mainly thinking about how our body perceives the external world. We recognize the “patterns” of photons with our eyes, and the “patterns” of vibrations in the air with our ears. According to Medzhitov, the immune system is one of the systems for recognizing “patterns”: it detects molecular signatures instead of light and sounds.
While searching for scientific articles on his discipline, Medzhitov came across an abstract of an essay written in 1989 by Charles Jenway, an immunologist at Yale University, entitled “Approaching the Asymptote? Evolution and Revolution in Immunology.” ( An asymptote is a straight line in mathematics that a curve approaches endlessly. – Ed.)
Medzhitov was intrigued and spent several months of his scholarship to buy a reprint of this work. His expectations were fully justified, since this work revealed to him the teachings of Jenway on “innate immunity”, and this teaching was destined to change his life.
At the time, Jenway argued that antibodies have one major drawback: the immune system takes several days to develop an effective antibody against a new invasion. He suggested that the immune system may have another line of defense that provides faster defenses. It may be using a “pattern” recognition system that quickly detects bacteria and viruses and triggers a response immediately.
Medzhitov reasoned about the same, so he immediately wrote to Jenway. Jenway responded, and a correspondence began between them, which eventually brought Medzhitov to New Haven, Connecticut. In 1994, he became a postdoctoral researcher at Jenway’s laboratory. Charles Jenway died in 2003.
Photo author, Thinkstock
People refuse many products, just not to suffer from allergies
Medzhitov still wonders how Jenway agreed to work with him.”I think the only reason he took me to his lab is because no one else wanted to pursue this idea,” he recalls.
Feeling support from Jenway’s colleagues, Derek Sant’Angelo and other laboratory staff, Medzhitov learned very quickly. Soon, he and Jenway discovered a new class of sensors on the surface of a particular type of immune cell. When faced with an invasion by a foreign body, such a sensor attaches to the alien and triggers a chemical alarm system that sends other immune cells to search for pathogens to detect and destroy them.It is a fast and accurate way to detect and eliminate foreign bacteria.
The discovery by Medzhitov and Jenway of these sensors, now known as toll-like receptors (TLR-4) in mammals, has revealed a new dimension in our immune defenses and has been recognized as a fundamental principle of immunology.
Medzhitov continued to speculate after he and Jenway discovered toll-like receptors. If the immune system has special sensors for bacteria and other foreign bodies, it may have unopened sensors to detect other enemies.It was then that he started thinking about parasitic worms, immunoglobulins E (IgE) and allergies. But at first, when he thought about it, the picture did not add up.
It is true that when the immune system detects parasitic worms, it releases IgE. However, IgE does not play such a significant role in the fight against foreign organisms. For example, scientists genetically engineered mice that were unable to produce IgE and found that such animals were still able to defend against parasitic worms.Medzhitov was skeptical about the idea that allergens mimic parasitic proteins. Many allergens, such as nickel or penicillin, have no possible counterparts in the parasite’s molecular structure.
The more Medzhitov thought about allergens, the less important their structure seemed to him. Perhaps allergens are not related to each other in shape, but in what they do.
We know that allergens often cause physical harm. They open cells, irritate membranes, destroy proteins.Maybe, Medzhitov thought, allergens cause such serious harm that we need protection from them. “If you think about all the main symptoms of allergic reactions – runny nose, tears, sneezing, coughing, itching, vomiting, diarrhea – they all have something in common,” says Medzhitov. “They all have to do with expelling something.” Suddenly, the mystery of allergy began to be presented differently. Allergies are not a sign of a malfunction in the body. They represent the body’s strategy to get rid of allergens.
Author of the photo, Thinkstock
Caption to the photo,
It is usually difficult to determine exactly what allergies are, as a rule, special tests do not help.
Studying this possibility, Medzhitov found out that the idea had already surfaced from time to time, but then was again buried. For example, in 1991, evolutionary biologist Margie Prophet suggested that allergies combat toxins. Immunologists rejected this idea, apparently on the grounds that Prophet was a stranger to them.Medzhitov found the evolutionary theory of toxins proposed by Prophet very useful. “She seemed to have untied our hands,” said the scientist.
Co-authored with two of his students, Noah Palm and Rachel Rosenstein, Medzhitov published his theory in Nature in 2012. Then he began to test her empirically. He first checked for a link between damage and allergies. He and his colleagues injected mice containing PLA2, an allergic enzyme called phospholipase A2, which is found in bee venom and destroys cell membranes.
As Medzhitov predicted, the animals’ immune systems did not respond to PLA2 itself. Only when the PLA2 enzyme broke open the cell membranes did the immune system produce IgE antibodies.
Another prediction contained in Medzhitov’s theory was that these antibodies would protect the mice instead of causing them disease. To test this hypothesis, Medzhitov and his colleagues, following the first injection of PLA2, injected mice with a second, stronger dose of the drug.If the animals had not been previously exposed to PLA2, their body temperature should have jumped sharply, which could even have led to the death of the test subjects. However, the exposed mice responded with an allergic reaction that, for reasons not yet clear, weakened the effects of PLA2.
Medzhitov did not know that another scientist was conducting an experiment on the other side of the United States, the results of which could further substantiate his theory.Stephen Galli, chair of the Department of Pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine, has for many years studied mast cells, mysterious immune cells that can kill people during allergic reactions. He had a suspicion that in fact the mast cells should help the body. So, in 2006, Galli and his colleagues found that mast cells destroy the toxins contained in the viper venom. This discovery led Galli to the same idea to which Medzhitov was inclined: and whether allergies can fulfill a protective function.
Photo author, SPL
Those same mast cells, the main agents of allergic reactions
To get an answer to this question, Galli and his colleagues injected mice with injections containing from one to two doses of poison corresponding to one bee sting thus causing allergic reactions in animals. They then injected subjects with potentially lethal doses to see if the response would increase the mice’s chances of survival. And so it happened. What’s more, when Galli and his team injected IgE antibodies to mice that had not previously been exposed to the poison, these animals were also protected from a potentially dangerous dose.
Medzhitov was delighted when he discovered Galli’s work in the same issue of the magazine Immunity, in which his own article was published. “It was nice to know that someone came to the same results using a completely different model. It was encouraging,” Medzhitov told me.
And yet, after all the experiments, many questions remained unanswered. How exactly does the harm caused to the body by bee venom lead to the release of IgE? And how does IgE protect mice? It is to these questions that Medzhitov’s team is now looking for answers.He showed me some experiments when I visited him again in March. We squeezed our way past the new freezer blocking the corridor to enter the room where his employee, Jamie Cullen, spends most of her time. She placed a bowl of pink syrup under the microscope and invited me to take a look. I saw a whole host of bodies in the shape of a melon.
“These are the cells that create all the problems,” Medzhitov said. I looked at mast cells, the main agents of allergic reactions.Cullen is studying how IgE antibodies collide with mast cells, causing them to become susceptible, and in some cases hypersensitive, to allergens.
An alarm for the body
As Medzhitov predicts, such experiments will show that detecting allergens works in the same way as a home security alarm system: “You can spot a burglar not because you recognized him by sight, but by a broken window.” , he explains.The damage caused by the allergen stimulates the immune system, which collects nearby molecules and creates antibodies to them. Thus, the culprit is identified and can be twisted the next time he tries to break into the house.
Allergies become clearer from an evolutionary point of view when viewed as a kind of home burglar alarm system. Toxic chemicals, the same poisons of plants and animals, have long been a threat to human health.Allergies provided protection to our ancestors by flushing these substances out of the body. And the discomfort that our ancestors experienced when exposed to these allergens could make them move to safer corners of their habitat.
In Jamie Cullen’s laboratory, there is a plastic box in which a pair of mice live. There are dozens of other similar boxes in the basement of the building. Some of the mice are common, others are not. Scientists from Medzhitov’s team used genetic engineering methods to deprive animals of the ability to produce IgE.
Medzhitov and Kallen will be monitoring these allergy-free mice for the next couple of years. Animals can be spared the suffering associated with hay fever caused by ragweed pollen, which inevitably ends up in their boxes with air currents. But, as Medzhitov predicts, they will have worse. Unable to withstand plant pollen and other allergens, they will allow toxic molecules to freely enter their body, where they will harm organs and tissues.
“This has never been done before, so we do not know what the consequences will be,” says Medzhitov. But if his theory is correct, the experiment will demonstrate that allergies equip us with an invisible shield.
How lucky …
Even if the experiment goes as expected, Medzhitov is not sure that his hypotheses about allergies will gain acceptance as quickly as those related to toll-like receptors. The idea of the dangers of allergies is too deeply rooted in the minds of doctors.“You have to reckon with the inertia of thinking,” he says.
However, understanding the goals of allergies can lead to dramatic changes in the way we treat them. “One of the conclusions from our views is that any attempt to completely block allergic defenses is a bad idea,” Medzhitov says. Instead, allergists should investigate why, in a minority of people, defensive reactions lead to hypersensitivity. “It’s the same as with pain,” Medzhitov continues.- Normal pain is good. Excessive pain is trouble. “
In the meantime, Medzhitov would be pleased if he could convince people not to treat allergies as a disease, despite all the suffering they cause.” You sneeze to protect yourself. And it’s just bad luck that you don’t like sneezing, ”he says with a slight shrug. “Evolution doesn’t care about your feelings.”
Allergies in Dogs – Allergies, Signs and Symptoms, Treatments for Dogs with Food Allergies
What to do if a dog has a rash and scabs all over the body
Dogs react differently to the same stimuli.Someone eats chicken with pleasure, and someone starts to itch from it. When this reaction becomes too severe, it is called an allergy. This is when the dog’s body perceives simple things like pollen as dangerous and harmful. Outwardly, this can manifest itself as redness, itching, scabs and rashes on the dog’s skin.
Main types of allergies in dogs:
- Food allergy
- Flea saliva allergy
- Allergy to environmental substances
Now let’s look at how they differ, and what to do if your dog has just such an allergy.
Signs of Allergy in Dogs
Symptoms for allergies can be the same regardless of the type. These are mainly skin rashes, itching, redness and swelling. Allergy symptoms are most often found in the armpits, face and ears, paws and abdomen
Allergies in dogs are manifested on the skin, on the ears, on open areas of the skin, on the paws and on the abdomen.
Allergy symptoms in dogs:
- Discharge from ears, eyes, nose
- Redness and breakouts
- Bad smell from wool and leather
How allergies manifest in dogs is not so important.Outwardly, all types of allergies may look the same, and the treatment will be different. Therefore, for any signs of allergies, you need to go to the doctor, and not self-medicate.
It will not work to establish the cause of the allergy without a doctor.
Food allergy in dogs
One of the rarest types of allergies. It appears gradually. Therefore, if a dog develops an allergy at the same time as a new diet, it is most likely not a matter of food.
It takes time for a food allergy to manifest itself.Usually, an allergy occurs to a particular type of protein. Most often for chicken and beef, less often for turkey, calf, duck and rabbit. That is why they are often included in hypoallergenic feeds.
Treatment for food allergies in dogs begins with a change in diet. First of all, it is necessary to establish what type of protein the dog is allergic to. Therefore, the old protein source is removed from the diet and replaced with a new one. For example, they stopped feeding beef and switched to duck. This applies to both natural nutrition and ready-made feed.In severe cases of food allergy, the dog is completely transferred to hypoallergenic food.
You can buy food for dogs with food allergies at your veterinary pharmacy.
Anatoly Albesco, chief physician of VetSet
It is possible to differentiate the type of allergy only by excluding the influence of food on its occurrence. Currently, the gold standard for diagnosing food allergy is the application of a diagnostic diet with a limited number of components, then a provocative diet, and again a diet with a limited number of components.
For 6-8 weeks (in rare cases up to 10 weeks), the patient should receive only food with a new source of protein. If during this period the itching has completely disappeared, provocative feeding of the dog with the same diet is carried out (1-2 weeks). Resumption of clinical signs confirms the diagnosis of food allergy. If during the period of the diagnostic diet the intensity of itching has not changed, or if the itching has completely disappeared but has not resumed after the provocative diet, food can be excluded as its cause.
In this case, the most likely cause is a non-food allergy (atopic dermatitis).
If during the period of the diagnostic diet the itching has decreased, but has not completely disappeared, and after the provocative diet has intensified again, it means that the patient, in addition to food allergy, is likely to have a non-food allergy.
Flea allergy in dogs
Flea saliva contains a foreign protein.It is to this that the allergy occurs, which is often called flea allergy in dogs. When a flea bites a dog, toxic protein enters the bloodstream along with the saliva. Therefore, symptoms may persist even after you have removed fleas from your dog. Flea allergies are more common in summer and autumn. This seasonality is due to the fact that at this time fleas feed more actively before hibernation.
To cure an allergy to flea saliva, you need to remove the very cause – fleas. Collars, special shampoos are used.The veterinarian may prescribe medications. The complexity of this allergy lies in the fact that you may not find fleas on the dog. To start an allergy, one bite on the street is enough. In addition, all dogs itch in different ways: someone will comb it so that the owner will not stand it, and other dogs will not even notice.
How to remove fleas from a dog
It is not difficult to remove fleas from the dog itself. However, everyone forgets that fleas do not live on a dog, but on mats and carpets, and even under a baseboard.To cope with flea allergies, you need to remove the parasites themselves from everywhere. Do not forget to clean not only the dog, but also its sleeping place.
Read more in the article How to remove fleas from a dog
Allergy to environmental substances
The reaction to external stimuli – pollen, dust, mold, even grass – is called atopic dermatitis. After flea allergies, this is the most common type. It usually appears between the ages of 10 months and three years.
Atopic dermatitis cannot be cured; you can only make the dog’s life comfortable enough. Sometimes prevention or relocation helps. For example, if your dog is allergic to dust, frequent cleaning, replacing carpets with parquet floors, or moving to the countryside may reduce symptoms.
Unusual types of atopic dermatitis
- Allergy to the sun. Dogs with such allergies have to walk early in the morning and late in the evening when there is no sunlight.
- Host allergy. The dog reacts to specific substances that are contained in the particles of the owner’s skin and hair.
- Allergy to perfumery. It is especially dangerous if the owner uses this perfume.
Diagnosis of allergies in dogs
There is a wide range of methods and research to identify allergies in a dog. It will not be possible to do this in only one way, and a comprehensive study is always needed.This is because different types of allergies can have the same symptoms. Therefore, the task of the veterinarian is to consistently exclude each of the possible options.
It all starts with taking anamnesis. The doctor asks about how the dog is kept, where he lives and sleeps, what vegetation is at home and near the house, that the dog eats every day. You should know the answers to these questions if you are taking someone else’s dog to the doctor. The visit will be useless without answers.
Allergy treatment in dogs
Not all allergies can be cured forever:
- Food allergies in dogs.From the diet, you need to exclude the product to which the allergy appears.
- Allergy to dog food. It is necessary to change the feed itself, for example, switch to another brand. You can keep the same brand of feed, but replace the base. For example, go from duck to rabbit.
- Flea saliva allergy. Regularly use flea medications: collars, shampoos, etc.
- Allergy to external stimuli. Eliminate contact with objects that cause allergies.Remove carpets from the house, put boots on the dog’s paws to exclude contact with pollen and grass.
What can you give your dog for allergies
Sometimes you don’t have to give anything. For food allergies, it is sufficient to exclude a certain type of protein from the diet. For example, go from beef to duck. However, only a doctor can establish this. The same goes for antihistamines. It is not worth giving them the first signs of allergies in dogs, because not all animals even react to them.
If you suspect your dog is allergic, see a dermatologist.
How to prepare for a visit to a dermatologist
It is a big mistake to wash or hide symptoms in a dog. If there are rashes on the skin, do not smear them with brilliant green. If there is discharge, do not wash it off before visiting your doctor. The dermatologist must see the problem overt.
90,000 Allergy to household chemicals – symptoms and treatment
Long-awaited cleaning – the windows shine with cleanliness, the floor shines, everything in the apartment is arranged on the shelves, the dust is wiped off the surfaces, beauty! And suddenly, unexpectedly, you start sneezing, coughing and other signs of allergies.It is quite possible that this is due to the reaction of your body to household chemicals. What leads to the development of allergy to household chemicals, can it be avoided? How to protect yourself from exacerbation, and are there any treatments that can completely cure this type of allergic reaction? Answers in this material.
What is a household chemical allergy?
Allergy to household chemicals means hypersensitivity to substances in various cleaning and detergents, as well as shampoos and soaps.These substances provoke skin damage, increasing its permeability to chemicals, and are themselves serious allergens 1, 2 .
What are the reasons for it?
The most powerful factor in the development of sensitization, that is, increased sensitivity to foreign substances, is contact of the skin or respiratory tract with household chemicals. In this case, contact can occur not only when using cleaning and hygiene products, but also be mediated – that is, through things and household items, on which residues of detergents or cleaning substances have remained.
After contact, the substances enter the body, causing a reaction on the part of the immune system, the cells of which enter into battle with the substances, trying to destroy them as quickly as possible. The biological and immunological processes taking place during this battle lead to the formation of special complexes and antibodies that must fight allergens in the future.
It is important to remember that the complexes are specific: some develop for insect bites or plant pollen, others for cleaning products or animals, that is, in each case, the antigen is different.This explains a kind of paradox in which some people have a reaction to household chemicals, others to animals, but all of them can safely use ordinary detergents 1.3 .
What household substances and products can provoke an allergic reaction?
There are many substances that can lead to allergy to household chemicals 1.2 .
Cleaning products, including those containing chlorine.
Surfactants, including those that are part of washing powders and other household chemicals.
Food additives and certain food products.
Means for coloring and hair care.
Household plants and preparations for their care.
What are the symptoms of a household chemical allergy?
This type of allergy refers to contact, and the first symptoms appear at the site of direct penetration of the allergen into the body. Most often it is the skin and mucous membrane of the respiratory tract – the main places of contact of household chemicals with the body.So, for example, a rash and itching, dryness, redness, peeling, cracking or blistering, a rash in the form of urticaria, etc., may appear on the skin. profuse secretion of mucus, a feeling of nasal congestion, itching and soreness in the nose and nasopharynx, cough. But when an allergen enters through the eyes, an allergic inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye develops – that is, the conjunctiva.If the agent was swallowed by inhalation and penetrated into the digestive system, then the symptoms may be similar to symptoms of poisoning: nausea, vomiting, stool disturbances.
Severe allergies to household chemicals can be manifested by bronchospasm, Quincke’s edema, anaphylactic shock 2, 3 .
90,000 8 plants that energize
One of the most popular adaptogenic plants. Ginseng is used as a stimulant during intense mental and physical work, to improve thinking, memory, concentration, and during rehabilitation.The plant helps to fight chronic fatigue, has a tonic effect. Many ginseng preparations are sold in pharmacies, in the form of capsules, tablets, alcohol tinctures. It is often included in complex dietary supplements.
It is used as a stimulant to improve performance in sports, combat physical and mental fatigue, and increase sex drive. Guarana seeds contain a large amount of caffeine, they also contain theophylline and theobromine – substances that are similar to caffeine in chemical structure and mechanism of action.The plant is included in many dietary supplements and energy drinks. On sale are chewable tablets, capsules, lozenges, oral liquid.
It is also called the golden root because of the color of the rhizomes. Rhodiola is used to increase tone, strength, endurance, activation of mental abilities, as an adaptogen – a means that helps the body to adapt to stress and harmful influences. The tincture is recommended for improving athletic performance and for post-workout recovery.It is also believed that the golden root helps with cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer, but there is no convincing scientific evidence of these effects.
This herb is widely used in Chinese traditional medicine. Schisandra fruit contains many antioxidants, substances that have anti-inflammatory effects. They help increase physical performance, stress resistance and various diseases.Other medicinal properties are attributed to the plant, but many of them have not been proven.
In pharmacies you can buy tablets, capsules, syrups, soluble granules with Chinese magnolia vine extract. Doctors often recommend them in case of overwork, decreased performance, physical and psycho-emotional stress.
This is one of the main medicinal plants in traditional Indian medicine – Ayurveda. It is often referred to as “Indian ginseng”. Ashwagandha is considered almost a panacea, but there is not enough information to judge about certain effects of the plant.”Indian ginseng” is often used as an adaptogen, as a general tonic, as a means to improve thinking, increase sex drive and prolong youth.
It is used for sexual dysfunctions in men, weakness and dizziness, to strengthen the immune system, slow down aging, increase efficiency. Some people take cordyceps as a tonic. This is one of the favorite ingredients of many dietary supplements manufacturers.Often non-existent properties are attributed to him and presented as a means of preventing any disease.
There are about 30 species of Eleutherococcus. Eleutherococcus prickly, which is also called “Siberian ginseng”, is used in medicine. The property of this plant is also referred to as adaptogenic. It is believed to strengthen the body and increase resistance to stress, restore immunity, improve appetite, and support the body when playing sports. Siberian ginseng is especially popular in Russia.
Long-lived tree, which is often called “living fossil”. At the end of the last century, dietary supplements based on ginkgo became very fashionable. The leaves of the plant contain substances that improve blood flow in the brain, they tried to use them (some manufacturers of dietary supplements still offer) to improve memory, thinking, and increase efficiency. However, Ginkgo leaf extract has not been approved as an effective and safe remedy. Taking it can be accompanied by side effects.
When using these plants, remember
- None of them are a panacea. Do not listen to sellers who claim that a magic tincture will help you “cope with everything” and “extend life by half.” Each product described in this article has side effects and contraindications, so should not be taken without talking to your doctor.
- Phytotherapy, especially in self-medication mode, cannot replace full-fledged treatment.Do not rely on the healing power of “herbs”.
- The effectiveness of dietary supplements (and many of the listed plants are included in their composition) has not been proven, since they do not undergo clinical trials, but there are more than enough counterfeit and unsafe products on the market.
Information from the website Health@mail.ru
90,000 5 indoor plants that cause allergies – In course.ru
Indoor plants are a joy for their owner. Most of them are completely harmless to humans.However, some indoor flowers can be a real nightmare for an allergy sufferer. We will tell you which plants are best not to keep in the house.
Decorative daisies are very popular, especially in delicate interiors of the Provencal or rustic style. The medicinal properties of chamomiles are widely known.
However, this plant also has a downside. Chamomile pollen is a strong allergen that causes runny nose, itching, rashes, and severe coughs.
Dwarf varieties of chrysanthemums are popular among flower lovers. Unfortunately, these plants are especially dangerous for children and the elderly. Chrysanthemum pollen produces very strong allergic reactions.
3. Palm tree.
If anyone in your household suffers from allergies, try not to buy a indoor palm tree with cones filled with pollen. These are the so-called “male” individuals. Unlike safe women, they provoke allergic reactions such as swelling and lacrimation.
A beautiful plant with a very strong aroma, attractive both in the garden landscape and in the home interior. But hyacinth is not the best choice for a home. Its strong aroma provokes headaches, and the juice can cause itchy skin and runny nose.
5. Indoor gerbera.
Gerbera belongs to the Aster family, which is known for its large amount of pollen. Therefore, for an allergy sufferer, the presence of room gerbera in the house is an almost one hundred percent guarantee of itching, runny nose and sneezing.
In closed rooms the exposure to allergens is stronger due to their concentration. Therefore, the above symptoms can appear even in those who have never suffered from allergies.