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   Index



 

CHENOPODIACEAE

(Goosefoot or Saltbush family)

 

This is a large family of about 1400 species of low-growing plants in 102 genera. Nearly all are found in, and are tolerant of salted earth in sea shores, deserts, etc. Some are xerophytic and resemble cacti.

Many are of major economic importance as food plants. These include Atriplex L. spp., Beta vulgaris L. (beetroot, sugar beet, mangold wurzel, Swiss chard), Chenopodium L. spp., and Spinacia oleracea L. (spinach). The burning bush (Kochia scoparia Schrader f. trichophylla Schinz & Thell.) is commonly grown in gardens as an ornamental bedding plant.

Chenopodium ambrosioides L. var anthelminticum A. Gray is cultivated for its anthelmintic volatile oil known as American wormseed oil, chenopodium oil, or Baltimore oil. A Sumerian recipe for soap (circa 2500 B.C.) utilised Salicornia fruticosa L. as the source of alkali (Rowley 1960).

A variety of dermatoses, including allergic contact dermatitis, photodermatitis, and mechanical injury have been reported. Nothing is known about the nature of the allergens nor the phototoxic principles.


Atriplex hortensis L.
Orache

A pellagra-like syndrome has occurred in starving persons who ate garden orache (Tyszlukiewicz & Zelazowski 1964).



Atriplex littoralis L.
(syn. Atriplex serrata Hudson)

Women who ate the plant under famine conditions in China (where the plant is known as Noong Jang-ai) developed oedema and then a pruritic bullous eruption of exposed skin. Men where rarely affected (Martin, cited by Maxwell 1929). This disorder, known as atriplicism, has been interpreted as a photosensitisation (Cairns et al. 1968) and attributed to ingestion of Atriplex serrata and Amaranthus mangostanus L. (fam. Amaranthaceae). King (1966) records that species of both of these genera tend to grow on garbage dumps around human habitation.

A. littoralis was reported by Matignon (1897, 1900) to produce adverse effects.



Bassia paradoxa F. Muell.
(syn. Sclerolaena paradoxa R. Br.)

The sharply pointed fruits of this Australian species can produce mechanical injury (Cleland 1925).



Beta vulgaris L.
(syn. Beta maritima L.)
Beetroot, Sugar Beet, Mangold Wurzel

Dermatitis in the sugar beet industry affected two thirds of workers employed in the crystallising department. Sugar appeared to be responsible for the dermatitis and secondary infection was common (Prosser White 1934).

A food handler who had contact dermatitis showed positive patch test reactions to beet and to spinach (Spinacia L.). Control tests were not recorded (Morris 1954). A positive patch test reaction to beet pulp was observed in a dock worker who had allergic contact dermatitis from cattle fodder products including maize and barley (fam. Gramineae) and brans (Malten 1970).

Beet pollen may cause pollinosis (Wodehouse 1971).

Nater & Grosfeld (1979) reported contact dermatitis from the herbicide Betanal(TM) (containing phenmedipham) which is used on sugar beet.



Chenopodium L.

Between 100 and 150 species are found in temperate regions (Willis 1973), a number of which have been used for food by man (Usher 1974).

A pellagra-like syndrome has occurred in starving persons who ate unspecified species of Chenopodium (Grzybowski 1948, Sebastynski 1960, Yu 1957, Lukács 1958). Poisoning in animals from ingestion of the plants and human poisoning from ingestion of chenopodium oil (see Chenopodium ambrosioides var anthelminticum) does not appear to produce photosensitivity (Kingsbury 1964).

Contact with the plants has been reported to cause dermatitis (Becker & O'Brien 1959) and to evoke photodermatitis (Lubieniecki 1961).

The pollen of some species, especially Chenopodium album, can cause pollinosis (Wodehouse 1971).



Chenopodium album L.
Lamb's Quarters, White Goosefoot

The plant is cultivated in India for fodder and as a pot-herb, and is a ubiquitous weed. Cases of photosensitisation have been seen following its ingestion as a green vegetable (Behl & Captain 1979). It is said to be useful in the treatment of vitiligo (Behl 1973).

This species produced a positive patch test reaction in one of 50 patients investigated for "weed dermatitis" (Shelmire 1939).



Chenopodium ambrosioides L. var anthelminticum A. Gray
(syn. Chenopodium anthelminticum L.)
Wormseed, American Wormseed, Hedge Mustard, Jerusalem Parsley, West Indian Goosefoot

Aplin (1976) notes that the volatile oil has been reported to cause an irritating itch in a person who handled the plant.

Chenopodium oil, otherwise known as American wormseed oil or Baltimore oil, is extracted from the flowers and fruits of the plant by steam distillation. It consists chiefly of ascaridole and para-cymene. As well as being used as an anthelmintic (for which purpose it is effective but possesses toxic side effects), it has value as a fragrance raw material.

Undiluted chenopodium oil was found to be irritating when applied to the skin of mice, swine, and rabbits, but was non-irritant when diluted to 4% in petrolatum and applied for 48 hours in a closed patch test on human skin. No phototoxic effects on the skin of mice and swine could be demonstrated with the undiluted oil; attempts to induce contact sensitivity to 4% chenopodium oil in petrolatum in 25 human volunteers were unsuccessful (Opdyke 1976, Forbes et al. 1977).



Chenopodium botrys L.
Jerusalem Oak, Feather Geranium

This species produced negative patch test reactions in all of 50 patients investigated for "weed dermatitis" (Shelmire 1939).



Cornulaca monacantha Delile

This species, which grows in the Sahara desert, forms compact, round bushes bearing small yellow thorns (Swift 1975).



Cycloloma atriplicifolium J. Coulter
Winged Pigweed

An extract of this species produced negative patch test reactions in all of 50 patients being investigated for "weed dermatitis" (Shelmire 1939).

The common name pigweed is also used for certain members of the family Amaranthaceae.



Eurotia lanata Moq.

The plant is used for headlice and as a hair tonic to promote growth (Train et al. 1957).



Kochia scoparia Schrader
Burning Bush, Summer Cypress, Belvedere

The pollen of this species can cause pollinosis (Wodehouse 1971).



Salsola kali L.
Glasswort

The leaf tip is armed with a sharp spine which may prove physically damaging to the field worker, who may even fail to find gloves thick enough to keep the spines out of his fingers. The spines may break off under the skin (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Salsola tragus L.
(syns Salsola kali L. var tenuifolia Moq., Salsola pestifer A. Nelson)
Prickly Russian Thistle, Prickly Saltwort, Roly Poly, Tumbleweed

Since about 1900, this plant has become an agricultural weed in North America. The spines of the plant cause irritation to men and horses (Pammel 1911, Schwartz et al. 1957). In New Mexico, USA, a disorder known a tumbleweed dermatitis can occur following skin contact with this plant; direct mechanical injury from the spines appears to be the cause. An extract of the plant produced negative patch test reactions in all of 50 patients being investigated for "weed dermatitis" (Shelmire 1939). Powell & Smith (1978) carried out patch, scratch, and photopatch tests with Russian thistle and an extract. These tests showed that in non-sensitive persons, dermatitis was caused only by mechanical irritation from plant floral bracts. In sensitive individuals, the bracts pierced the skin and stimulated an urticarial reaction.

Migaki et al. (1969) noted that in areas of southwestern USA, spines from Salsola pestifer are sometimes found embedded in the tongues of range cattle. Spines in tongues can predispose to bacterial infection.



Sarcobatus vermiculatus Torrey
(syn. Sarcobatus maximiliani Nees)
Greasewood, Black Greasewood

The numerous branches of this spreading deciduous shrub bear rigid spines capable of inflicting mechanical injury. It should not be confused with Larrea tridentata Cov. (fam. Zygophyllaceae), an unrelated plant also known as greasewood.



Spinacia oleracea L.
Spinach

Schwartz et al. (1957) record that in the canning industry, workers employed in packing spinach are subject to a dermatitis resembling that produced by Toxicodendron Mill. (fam. Anacardiaceae). Spinach can cause dermatitis in housewives (Shelmire 1940).

Dermatitis caused by handling spinach was recorded by Brown (1922). A food handler was contact sensitive to spinach and to beet (Beta L.). A packer of spinach had oedema due to cold (Morris 1954). A vegetable dealer had dermatitis from contact with spinach, and asthma from ingestion of spinach and also green peas (Pisum L., fam. Leguminosae). Patch tests with spinach reported by Zohn (1937) and by Singh et al. (1978) produced negative results. However, Sinha et al. (1977) observed a positive patch test reaction in 1 of 53 patients who had hand dermatitis suspected to be caused by vegetables.



VETERINARY ASPECTS

Ingestion of Threlkeldia proceriflora F. Muell., an Australian species, is reported to cause photosensitisation in animals (Hurst 1942). Kochia scoparia Schrader, the summer cypress, was responsible for photosensitisation in cattle, sheep, and horses during drought years in the Argentine in 1942 and 1943 (Kingsbury 1964).


References

  • Aplin TEH (1976) Poisonous garden plants and other plants harmful to man in Australia. Western Australian Department of Agriculture Bulletin (3964): 1-58
  • Becker SW and O'Brien MP (1959) Value of patch tests in dermatology. Special study of follicular reactions. AMA Archives of Dermatology 79: 569.
  • Behl PN (1973) Personal communication to Mitchell JC. In: Mitchell J and Rook A (1979) Botanical Dermatology. Plants and plant products injurious to the skin. Vancouver: Greengrass, p. 165.
  • Behl PN and Captain RM (1979) Skin-Irritant and Sensitizing Plants Found in India, 2nd edn. New Delhi: S Chand.
  • Brown ED (1922) Experiments on the variability in susceptibility to poison ivy. Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 5: 714.
  • Cairns RJ et al. (1968) Cutaneous reactions to physical agents. In: Rook AJ et al. (Eds) Textbook of Dermatology, 1st edn. pp. 323. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Cleland JB (1925) Plants, including fungi, poisonous or otherwise injurious to man in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia ii: 443.
  • Forbes PD et al. (1977) Phototoxicity testing of fragrance raw materials. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology 15: 55 & 265.
  • Grzybowski M (1948) A peculiar, pellagra-like skin sensitization to light in starving persons. British Journal of Dermatology and Syphilis 60(12): 410-415
  • Hurst E (1942) The Poison Plants of New South Wales. Sydney: N.S.W. Poison Plants Committee.
  • King LJ (1966) Weeds of the World. Biology and control. London: Leonard Hill.
  • Kingsbury JM (1964) Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Lubieniecki S (1961) A case of photodermatitis after contact with Chenopodium. Polski Tygod. Lek. 16: 105.
  • Lukács VF (1958) Über einen mittels Hibernation geheilten Fall von schwerer Photodermatose. Annls Paediat. 191: 183.
  • Malten KE (1970) Allergic contact dermatitis due to cattle fodder products. Contact Dermatitis Newsletter (7): 158.
  • Martin SH (undated) China Medical Journal 39: 808. Cited by Maxwell (1929)
  • Matignon (1897) Janus (Leyde) 2: 499. Cited by Touton (1932)
  • Matignon (1900) Janus (Leyde) 5: 250. Cited by Touton (1932)
  • Maxwell JL (1929) The Diseases of China including Formosa and Korea. Shanghai: ABC Press.
  • Migaki G, Hinson LE, Imes GD, Garner FM (1969) Cactus spines in tongues of slaughtered cattle. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 155(9): 1489-1492
  • Morris GE (1954) Dermatoses among food handlers. Ind. Med. Surg. 23: 343.
  • Nater JP and Grosfeld JCM (1979) Allergic contact dermatitis from Betanal (phenmedipham). Contact Dermatitis 5: 59.
  • Opdyke DLJ (1976) Monographs on fragrance raw materials. Chenopodium oil. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology 14: 713.
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Powell RF and Smith EB (1978) Tumbleweed dermatitis. Archives of Dermatology 114(5): 751-754
  • Prosser White R (1934) The Dermatergoses or Occupational Affections of the Skin. 4th edn. London: HK Lewis
  • Rowley GD (1960) A short history of succulent plants. In: Jacobsen H (Ed.) A Handbook of Succulent Plants. Vol. 1. pp. 1. London: Blandford Press.
  • Schwartz L, Tulipan L and Birmingham DJ (1957) Occupational Diseases of the Skin, 3rd edn. London: Henry Kimpton.
  • Sebastynski T (1960) A case of pellagroid as a consequence of the ingestion of Chenopodium. Polski Tygod. Lek. 15: 688.
  • Shelmire B (1939) Contact dermatitis from weeds; patch testing with their oleoresins. Journal of the American Medical Association 113: 1085-1090.
  • Shelmire B (1940) Contact dermatitis from vegetation. Southern Medical Journal 33: 338.
  • Singh R, Siddiqui MA, Baruah MC (1978) Plant dermatitis in Delhi. Indian Journal of Medical Research 68(Oct): 650-655
  • Sinha SM, Pasricha JS, Sharma RC and Kandhari KC (1977) Vegetables responsible for contact dermatitis of the hands. Archives of Dermatology 113: 776-779.
  • Swift J (1975) The Sahara. Amsterdam: Time-Life Books.
  • Touton K (1932) Hauterkrankungen durch phanerogamische Pflanzen und ihre Produkte (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes). In: Jadassohn J (Ed.) Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Band IV, Teil I. Angeborene Anomalien. Lichtdermatosen. Pflanzengifte. Thermische Schädigungen. Einfluss Innerer Störungen auf die Haut, pp. 487-697. Berlin: Julius Springer [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Train P, Henrichs JR, Archer WA (1957) Medicinal Uses of Plants by Indian Tribes of Nevada. (Revised edn by Archer WA). Beltsville, MD: US Dept of Agriculture, Plant Industry Station [WorldCat]
  • Tyszlukiewicz D and Zelazowski K (1964) Skin changes due to consumption of garden orach. Polski Tygod. Lek. 19: 1166.
  • Usher G (1974) A Dictionary of Plants used by Man. London: Constable.
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [WorldCat] [url]
  • Willis JC (1973) A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns, 8th edn. (Revised by Airy Shaw HK). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [WorldCat]
  • Wodehouse RP (1971) Hayfever Plants, 2nd revised edn. New York: Hafner Publishing Co.
  • Yu KY (1957) Observations on dermatitis solaris in China. In: Proc. XIth Int. Derm. Congr. Vol. 3. pp. 538.
  • Zohn B (1937) An unusual case of spinach hypersensitivity. Journal of Allergy 8: 381.



Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]



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