If the you-know-what hits the fan one day, everyone that doesn’t have an extensive survival garden up and running will be looking to their environment for edible wild plants. It’s likely we’ll be less than perfect in our choice of safe, tasty greens. What if we find ourselves getting sick soon after trying a new plant?
The DOOM and BLOOM Show #21 went over survival edibility tests and tips on what to avoid when you’re foraging for food. It’s there to download at your convenience. Let’s talk about when you have been poisoned by plant toxins.
Most food poisoning is actually due to eggs, dairy products and meat that have been contaminated by some type of bacteria. Most animal meat is not toxic by itself (pufferfish and barracuda are exceptions that come to mind), but there are plenty of plants, even ones we eat commonly, that have toxins that could seriously harm you. Eating the seeds of an apple, in quantity, will make you sick due to cyanide-like compounds within it.
Symptoms to expect if you have food poisoning would include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, vision disturbances, confusion and palpitations.
When you suspect that you have been poisoned, wash your mouth out immediately to make sure that you don’t have any plant material still to be ingested. Then purge yourself, whether it be by pressing down on the back of your tongue with 2 fingers or using a preparation like syrup of Ipecac. Most poison control centers will advise against using this substance, because it may be difficult to figure out exactly how much will work. The answer is to use the smallest amount of the stuff that will make you vomit. Drink clear fluids like water to dilute the toxin and help flush it out of your system.
Activated charcoal is another product that is used to treat poisoning. Activated charcoal in your stomach and intestines causes toxins to bind to it, therefore keeping them from entering your system. Some poison control centers don’t want you to use this either, due to dosing issues and the fact that it could give you constipation. Take an Ex-lax when you take the charcoal to help move things along. In terms of dosing, there are various online charcoal products pre-measured that you can use in liquid or capsule form. Some brand names are SuperChar, Actidote, Liqui-char, InstaChar, and Charcodote.
Prevent food poisoning by being sure what you’re eating; get a good edible plant guide for your area, one with plenty of photos. Foragerpress.com has an assortment of books that might fit the bill. Remember, if there is still modern medical care available to you and you feel sick, get to an emergency room ASAP!