J Emerg Med 2017 Sep;53(3):e41-e44
Toxicology Laboratory, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Background: Spanish broom (Spartium junceum L.) is an ornamental, medicinal, and potentially poisonous plant.
Case Report: Three children, aged 5-6 years, were accidentally poisoned from ingesting a variable number of seeds of Spanish broom. This plant contains several quinolizidine alkaloids as cytisine, which act as an agonist of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The potential danger varies, depending on the dose. After having ingested one to two seeds, one of the boys was asymptomatic. A second boy ingested four to five seeds and presented some digestive problems with favorable clinical evolution. A third boy ingested seven to eight seeds, and presented with digestive and neurologic symptoms, as well as minor metabolic acidosis. In this case there was vomiting with remains of the seeds. He responded well to a gastric lavage and activated charcoal. He was discharged 24 h post ingestion. The intake within one to eight seeds was accompanied by moderate symptoms, with good response to treatment. Children poisoned by plants with nicotine-like symptomatology usually fully recover, but some fatal cases have been reported. Prevention is always a key aspect to consider so as to reduce the risk of poisoning. There is a lack of legislative measures, based on lists provided by experts, to regulate real or potentially poisonous plants in children's areas. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: This case serves as an example of accidental plant poisoning. For emergency physicians, it is usually complicated to identify the specific plant involved, so initial treatment often starts with basic measures (airway, breathing, and circulation).