Castor Bean Cautionary Tale!

wendy2shoesOctober 7, 2013

My four year old grand-daughter was given a souvenir "bead" necklace from Cuba..I recognized the Castor beans it was made from immediately. Lots of us go to the Caribbean in the winter, so please be aware that the local crafts are usually made from easily available plant material, not man made beads. She could have become very ill if she had ingested one.

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Yes, it's a concern but Castor beans are somewhat indigestible and a child would have to really thoroughly chew 2 or 3 of them before they were in real danger.

I still wouldn't try, but a swallowed (not chewed) Castor bean is going to pass through much like Flax seed does.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 3:36PM
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I disagree. It is dangerous. If swallowed and the seed coat has cracks or if the digestive acids in our stomach destroy the seed coat, the child can be in grave danger

Check this Cornell University link for details:

Here is a link that might be useful: castor bean toxin

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 3:56PM
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It is advisable to keep children away from the castor bean plant or necklaces made with its seeds. In fact donít even have them in or around a house with small children. If they ingest the leaves or swallow the seeds, they may get poisoned. The highly toxic seeds beaded into necklaces, cause skin irritation at the contact point.

If the seed is swallowed without chewing, and there is no damage to the seed coat, it will most likely pass harmlessly through the digestive tract. However, if it is chewed or broken and then swallowed, the ricin toxin will be absorbed by the intestines.

It is said that just one seed can kill a child. Children are more sensitive than adults to fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhea, and can quickly become severely dehydrated and die.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 3:57PM
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You disagreed then referenced a website that basically supported my post...albeit with a little bit more caution and concern.

If death by Castor bean was a frequent childhood problem, nobody would ever grow North America, Cuba, or elsewhere. North American kids are just as smart as developing world kids and developing world parents can be just as protective as North American parents.

I'm not suggesting that Castor bean ingestion doesn't have the potential to be dangerous. I'm just saying that the incidents of childhood mortality due to Castor bean poisoning are likely low because; a) kids don't accidentally/purposefully consume them very often or b) the beans are not releasing their entire payload of ricin when ingested.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 5:19PM
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Smilies - just read your responses to the cautionary note above. Can't believe your second posting! Your position is utterly indefensible and irrational!

The referenced material clearly disagrees with your opinion, yet you argue against what is clearly a logical and rational caution. It strikes me as unlikely that beans seeds are strung on a string without damaging the shell, and the article indicates the potential of serious illness from the ingestion of a single bead, as well as contact dermatitis from such necklaces.

I can't understand how anyone has the nerve to denigrate a well stated caution as was posted; but don't bother trying to explain, just stay away from the kids I love.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:40PM
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I'd just read the response to my reply.. Goodness. I would never minimize something that is potentially fatal - especially if it involves children. Im a first aider and one thing we do know is that children tend to put a lot of things in their mouths, even pieces of toys. How much more a nice round looking seed that can be mistaken for candy? And personally one death due to accidental ingestion of a poisonous object, is one death too many.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:23PM
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Not irrational at all but an opinion formed through the peer reviewed literature available. It's really just a question of real risk versus perceived risk. For Castor Beans, the perceived risk is likely greater.

In this particular journal article, the author notes that 400 cases of castor bean intoxication were found in the reviewed literature. Fatality rate was 8.1%. The woman in question CRUSHED eight castor beans and ingested them....she survived with medical treatment.

Here is a link that might be useful: West Indian Medical Journal - Castor Bean

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:42PM
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sherylgallant(Kelowna, BC z6)

Good grief, people! Ricin is made from castor beans!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ricin Wikipedia

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Hmmm. This could really save me some cheddar on daycare. Where did you get these said miracle beans?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 1:54PM
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