Asthma caused by plants which have pharmacological properties

  • Herbalist
  • Pharmacist

Amaryllis, Banha, Cascara, Gentian, Ginseng, Henna, Ipecacuanha, Liquorice, Papaver somniferum, Passion flower, Pyrethrum, Quinine, Sanyak, Sarsaparilla.

Incidence: increasing with the trend for natural medicines.
The allergens are glycoprotein complexes.
The dried roots of the ipecacuanha plant contain an alkaloid (emetine).
In the case of liquorice, the allergen is an extract concentrated from the roots of the glycyrrhiza glarba used in confectionary and as an ulcer treatment.
Glycyrrhizine causes retention of sodium and potassium. Pyrethrum, extracted from chrysanthemums, is used in various insecticides. Ginseng is used as an aphrodisiac and has anti-diabetic properties. Cascara is a purging agent. A new chapter is beginning with asian medicine. Banha (Pinellia Ternata) which is a member of the Araceae family is a medicinal herb which is widely used in Korea. In the manufacturing areas of these herbal medicines, IgE-dependent asthmas have been described with Chukung (Cnidii rhizoma), Banha (Pinellia Ternata) and above all with Sanyak (Dioscorea radix).
Sensitization to these products is due to work place conditions, packaging and handling.
Rhinitis, conjunctivitis and classic asthma sometimes accompanied by contact dermatitis (pyrethrum) or urticaria. The upper respiratory pathologies may be extremely violent.
Diagnostic methods
Skin tests: extracts are not commercially available.
Bronchial provocation test using the raw material (in hospital).


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As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.