Counselling interventions for Households on the Dangers of the Houseplant, Dieffenbachia spp. (Floristic Dumb cane), in Calabar

Dr Bassey Ekeng Effiom, Godwin Michael Ubi & Mercy Lawrence Ekwok


Diffenbachia species commonly called dumb cane is a houseplant found in homes, offices, banks and landscape premises as ornamental plants. Ingestion of dieffenbachia sap or plant parts leads to stinging and burning sensations to the mouth and throat, irritates the mucousal membranes, swelling of the mouth and throat, hoarse voice, nausea, vomiting and blindness if sap is in contact with the eyes. This family of plants has shown high levels of acute and chronic toxicities with high mutagenic, carcinogenic, genotoxic potentials. Results of the phytochemicals – proteins interactions in biological systems revealed that oxalates impair and inhibit the formation and functionality of essential amino acids due to complex formations of alanine glycoxylatetransferase (GRHPR), Chromobox homolog 5 chromosome (CBX5), alpha ketaglutarate dehydrogenase (AGXT) and glyoxylatereductase (OGDH). The glycosides on the other hand affect and interact with cytosolic beta glucosidase (GBA3) while saponin interacts with neurotransmitter proteins, alpha L rhamo, sephadex and FOXB proteins which together manifest in the associated symptoms and toxicity earlier stated. There is need to create awareness on the dangers and toxicity of this houseplant especially here in Nigeria, Cross River State and Calabar where the use of this supposed ornamental plant is on the increase.

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