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Readers Respond: Do Poinsettia Plants Make You Sick?

Responses: 52


Poinsettia plants don't make you as sick upon ingestion as the myth claims, but some who have an allergic reaction to latex get sick just being around poinsettia plants. Do you experience this allergic reaction to poinsettia plants (or know somebody who does)? Symptoms include itchy throat and trouble breathing.

It's bad enough to learn you suffer from an allergic reaction to poinsettia plants upon receiving one as a gift. It's worse to discover that you have this health problem through exposure to displays of poinsettia plants at work or in apartment hallways -- where you may not have control over the matter.

Poinsettia Plants -- Shortness of Breath

Yes, poinsettia plants contain a latex protein. People who have a latex allergy can get very sick even being in the room with them. I have a latex allergy and found this out the hard way. A member of the family brought a poinsettia plant into the house. I noticed that my throat started to itch and then, by the next day, I was really having trouble breathing. It just so happened that, that night, on our local news they were warning about it. We took the poinsettia plant outside and I started to get better. If you notice, well, around my hometown anyway, public places no longer put them on display. It's really too bad because they are really beautiful and so much a part of our holidays.
—Guest Rebecca

Poinsettia Plants and Latex Allergy

I am very glad to see that you have posted the info that Rebecca provided to you about natural rubber latex allergy. I don’t believe I know Rebecca, but I too have natural rubber latex allergy. This is a disabling & life threatening allergy. The poinsettia is only one of 40,000 items in everyday life that contains one or more of the 53 identified latex proteins at this time. Many gardening tools and gloves have rubber. Many gardening shoes do as well. Insecticides contain the chemicals used in latex glove production which make them lethal to any of us with natural rubber latex allergy. There are many plants whose DNA makeup is so close to latex that we have severe & life threatening reactions. I appreciate all that I have learned through About, & I’m thankful to give this comment.
—Guest connie

Even ACLU Offers No Help to Sufferer!

I never knew that others were allergic. Although I have never had any trouble with latex (as far as I know), poinsettia plants (or poison-ettas as my son used to call them) make me dangerously ill. I have to carry an epipen because if I walk into a building with one anywhere in it, I will have an anaphylactic reaction. Unfortunately, if I run into one and have to take my epipen, then I am supposed to go to the hospital which is full of them, making it the WORST place I can go. Further, when I tried to contact my congressman about it and its relation to the ADA and my employment, he snubbed me saying it was so rare, that it wasn’t a big enough problem for him to make an issue. The ACLU turned me down too and we know how litigious they are. What kind of help is there?
—Guest Donna

Passed Out Near Poinsettia Plants

Thank you so much for starting this dialoque. I first learned I was allergic to poinsettia plants when I was 12 years old. Whenever I tell someone I am allergic, they look at me like I am nuts! I develop breathing problems, from which I once passed out……right next to the poinsettia. Fortunately, someone was there with me. This can be a very dangerous, life-threatening allergy. Please continue to spread the word. Thanks.
—Guest Karen

Poinsettia Allergies

I'm also quite allergic to Poinsettias. I do not shop from 1 to 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. My Epipen is always with me. My eyes swell, I wheeze, am hoarse, can't breathe and get tachycardia . I also am severely allergic to latex. I found out about the cross allergy at a medical class years ago. Foods too.
—Guest Kathy Magnall

Warning Mechanism Needed

I went in to pay my phone bill, and a lady had a green poinsettia plant there. Of course, by the time I saw it, it was too late. How can we get companies to warn people that they have them in their facilities?

Yes, I Have Suffered for Years

I have stopped breathing. Been resuscitated. Become a hermit from Halloween to President's Day. Cannot go to my kids' or grandkids' holiday programs. Cannot go to the store. Cannot go to church. Cannot go to the doctor. And cannot go to the hospital...unless I use my epipen which requires me to go...and then I get exposed all over again. People are mean about it. They lie about it. They act like they don't know what a poinsettia is when I call before I go someplace. It is ridiculous. These things are weeds. They are not flowers. THEY ARE WEEDS. And they foster MOLD in the soil. They are messy and temperamental things that people throw away because they cannot keep them alive. Get a high quality silk, save some money, and save a life!
—Guest Donna Mixon

Poinsettias = Danger

My son spent the night at his grandparents when he was younger and their poinsettia plant had ladybugs on it. He played with the ladybugs (therefore touching the leaves) for hours and woke up half way through the night unable to catch his breath, wheezing and blue. Luckily they removed him from the house, brought him home and his symptoms subsided. Scary.
—Guest Karen

Allergic to Poinsettias

Since I was a kid I've always had a reaction to poinsettias. I've experienced shortness of breath which leads to headaches, light headed feelings, and also hives.
—Guest Cole

Christmas killer - Poinsettias

YES! I definitely have reactions to poinsettias. I refer to them as the unknown Christmas Killer (jokingly, but with tongue in cheek). AND...inevitably my office will get several plants to give away at Christmas events in addition to them being in every store that you see! My eyes water/itch, I get a scratchy throat, and usually end up with a sinus infection just after Christmas that I attribute to the exposure to the plant. I take Singulair daily anyway, and will take an over the counter medication in addition to that (usually Claritin) to help with the symptoms. I also have to use eye drops (pataday) to help with the eye issues caused by them.
—Guest Guest KKlioness

More Reasons Poinsettias Can Sicken You

With poinsettia allergies, it is especially tough to pinpoint the culprit. Poinsettias grown closely together in greenhouses can be a breeding ground for fungus and/or mold and their spores on both the plant leaves and in the soil. Being allergic to one mold doesn't mean being allergic to all molds. Secondly, all flowering plants produce pollen which can cause problems for some. Then there is the sap that has a chemical in it found in latex -- another source of a possible allergen for some people. It's a tough plant to avoid during the holiday season!

Allergy to Poinsettia - Thank You!

I have been short of breath, my lungs itch, and now my throat and chest feel tight. I thought I had a cross-contamination of a food allergy, but this felt completely different from my normal reactions. I was standing at my sink doing dishes and noticed the poinsettia that my dad decided to buy me for Christmas. The petals are falling and it's dropping pollen, so I thought maybe this is my issue. You all have describe my symptoms! Thank you for sharing. I'm going to throw it out now!
—Guest Shannan

I Had No Idea

I had poinsettias in the house for Christmas and couldn't figure out why I was feeling dizzy and nauseous with migraines. I thought I was just stressed from Christmas, but realized I had only felt sick since bringing poinsettias into the house. I threw them in the garbage and the next day I felt way better -- no more migraines or dizziness! I didn't think just being near something could cause such severe symptoms!
—Guest Brandy

Poinsettias and Sleeping Problems?

After reading several items on poinsettia plants I now think they might cause my sleeping problems each December and January. Every Christmastime my husband, daughters and I have several sleeping problems. Till now we never connected them to poinsettia plants. Does anybody know if these plants can be connected to sleeping problems?
—Guest joanna1961

Allergic to Poinsettias

I have 6 poinsettias around for the holidays and my allergies are bad. Runny nose and cold symptoms but clear drainage.
—Guest Sandra

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