Poinsettia allergy

We received this email recently from Donna in the USA. We have not heard of any one else who reacts only to poinsettias but, since poinsettias cross react with latex (as do bananas, apples, melons, figs, kiwi and papayas) anyone with a latex allergy could also react to the plants.


PoinsettiaI am one of those who has almost died from exposure to poinsettia-contaminated air. Even one hidden in a closet in the other end of a building that I knew nothing of until after the event nearly killed me.

I had worked as a florist in high school, but allergies developed that made it impossible. One of those was, as it turns out, to live poinsettias. One year, I worked as a credit manager for a major retailer and they decided to put the plants out for sale. They parked several pallets of the things outside my office. Within an hour, my asthma started acting up, so I medicated and left. I returned several days later to pick up my check and after being in the building for less than five minutes, I could not breathe. I exited the building and collapsed in the parking lot. I had to be intubated and resuscitated.

Now, from Halloween/Pre-Thanksgiving until mid-January/President's Day I am a hostage to the damned things. I cannot go to my kids' or grandkids' schools. I cannot go to the store. I cannot go to church. I cannot go to restaurants. I cannot go to the doctor. I cannot go to a nursing home. I cannot travel. I cannot go visit friends. And, worst, I cannot go to the hospital...and I HAVE to go there if I have to use my EpiPen.

People are mean about it. They feign ignorance about what poinsettias are when I call ahead to check on if it is okay for me to go somewhere. Sometimes, they just lie about it. Usually they just don't give it a lick of thought, even after being reminded.

I have had so many serious anaphylactic reactions that I don't know how much more my heart can take. It is painful. It is scary. It is something I know will end up killing me one day. Because people cannot be bothered to accept that the weed they love so much is deadly in ways other than from physical contact.

To repeat...just BREATHING air CONTAMINATED by a single weed (because that is what they are) CAN be DEADLY to ANYONE with a LATEX ALLERGY.

No matter how much some doctors will argue against it. It happens. It happened to me. And it is only the BLOOMING plants that cause the problem.

I was diagnosed at The Environmental Health Center in Dallas by a specialist whose wife also has this severe reaction. And only to blooming plants. He told me he knew of half a dozen people with the allergy this severe. I have met about that many people since who share this nightmare.

Ignoring it. Nay-saying it. Poo-Pooing it. Refusing to admit it. Refusing to print it. None of those things will ever change the facts that this is a dangerous WEED that kills people. Just because you choose to close your eyes, ears, and hearts to this plight does not mean it will go away. As a matter of fact, it just makes you (general you, not specific you) complicit in the deaths and suffering of those who have the allergy.

Beautiful silks actually make better fiscal sense. And they do not kill. Besides you don't have to fuss over the mess and have it die anyway every single year.


See here for a Medscape article on the poinsettia-latex connection, quoting two studies, one demonstrating that 40% of those allergic to latex will also react to poinsettias; the other showing bronchial asthma being induced in a child by exposure to poinsettia.

September 2014

Articles on allergen-free gardening


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