House Plants Causing Allergies: Can You Be Allergic To Houseplants?

In the last few years there have been many reports of people being allergic to certain types of house plants. Some are even calling it a “houseplant crisis.” If you suffer from any type of allergies or asthma, then you may want to avoid these plants.

The problem with some of these plants is they contain chemicals called allergenic alkaloids (or AOs). These substances are produced naturally by certain plants when they are pollinated by insects such as bees, wasps and ants.

However, if those insects carry the chemical into your body through their bites or stings, then you become sensitized to them. Once you develop an allergy to one of these plants, it will not only affect how you feel but also how you react to other types of allergens.

Some common houseplants that are known to produce AOs include:

Peace Lily – Pollen from Peace Lilies contains the allergen alizarin. When inhaled, this substance causes severe breathing problems in sensitive individuals.

People with asthma or hay fever may experience difficulty breathing after exposure to this plant.

Dieffenbachia – Also called the “dumb cane” or “exotic ivy,” this plant is a common houseplant that contains furocoumarin. This substance causes a sunburn-like rash when it comes in contact with your skin.

If you get the sap of this plant in your mouth or eyes, then you will experience swelling and blistering.

Pothos – This plant is also known as Devil’s Ivy. It is a common houseplant that contains the chemical pneumotoxin.

While it does not cause any immediate effects, this substance can cause breathing problems and skin irritation in some individuals.

Houseplants Causing Allergies: Can You Be Allergic To Houseplants - Picture

Aloe Vera – Some types of this succulent plant contain substances called aloins. These substances can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even death if ingested in large amounts.

These types of aloe plants should be treated as medical needles and should be kept away from children and pets.

Sources & references used in this article:

High incidence of sensitization to ornamental plants in allergic rhinitis by V Mahillon, S Saussez, O Michel – Allergy, 2006 – Wiley Online Library

Phytophilia and service atmospherics: The effect of indoor plants on consumers by BC Wolverton – 2020 – Spring

Allergic contact dermatitis to plants: understanding the chemistry will help our diagnostic approach by S Tifferet, I Vilnai-Yavetz – Environment and Behavior, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com

Using houseplants to clean indoor air by E Rozas-Muñoz, JP Lepoittevin, RM Pujol… – Actas dermo …, 2012 – Elsevier

The basic roles of indoor plants in human health and comfort by KD Kobayashi, AJ Kaufman, J Griffis, J McConnell – 2007 – scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu

Do indoor plants contribute to the aeromycota in city buildings? by L Deng, Q Deng – Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2018 – Springer

Patients’ recovery experiences of indoor plants and viewsof nature in a rehabilitation center by FR Torpy, PJ Irga, J Brennan, MD Burchett – Aerobiologia, 2013 – Springer

Houseplant Poisoning in Small Animals by RK Raanaas, G Patil, G Alve – Work, 2016 – content.iospress.com

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