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Daffodil Herb - Dosage and Useful Properties

Taxonomic Class

Amaryllidaceae

Common Trade Names

None known.

Common Forms

None known.

Source

Active components are derived from powders or extracts of the flowers of Narcissus pseudonarcissus of the narcissus family, common in Europe and the United States.

Chemical Components

A crystalline alkaloid, narcisssine, has been isolated from daffodil bulbs and is identical to lycorine, isolated from Lycoris radiata. Other alkaloids (masonin and homolycorin) and a lectin known as N. pseudonarcissus agglutinin (NPA) have also been found in the bulbs. Crystals of calcium oxalate have been noted in plant sap.

Actions

Daffodil preparations have astringent properties. Narcissine (lycorine) acts as an emetic. In one study, extracts containing masonin and homolycorin were found to induce delayed hypersensitivity in guinea pigs. NPA binds to alpha 2 -macroglobulin and to glycoprotein 120 of the HIV in vitro. NPA is inhibitory to mV-I, HIV-2, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in vitro. NPA also inhibits rabies virus attachment to susceptible cells and rubella virus multiplication in vitro .

Reported Uses

Historically, preparations made from boiled daffodil bulbs were used as an emetic. Plasters made from the bulbs were used locally for burns, joint pain, strains, and wounds. The powdered flowers have been used as an emetic. Infusions or syrups have been used in pulmonary congestion.

NPA is used in biochemical research for its ability to bind with glycoconjugates that occur on such viruses as HIV-1 and HIV-2, simian immunodeficiency virus, CMV, rabies, and rubella. It has also been used to develop novel enzyme-linked immunoassays for quantitation of envelope glycoprotein 120 on HIV .

Dosage

Some sources suggest 1,300 mg of powdered flowers or 130 to 195 mg of extract P.O. as an emetic.

Adverse Reactions

CV: CV collapse.

EENT: hypersalivation, miosis.

GI: nausea, vomiting.

Respiratory: respiratory collapse.

Skin: contact dermatitis .

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Daffodil flowers and bulbs are poisonous. Ingestion of even small quantities can lead to rapid death. Avoid using daffodil in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown.

Special Considerations

Alert Narcissine (lycorine) causes eventual collapse and death by paralysis of the CNS. Accidental poisoning by daffodil bulbs has been reported in Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain, and the United States.

Caution the patient against consuming any part of this plant.

Caution the patient to keep plant parts out of the reach of children and pets.

Advise the female patient to avoid using daffodil during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Points of Interest

Daffodil bulbs have been mistaken for onions in cases of accidental pOIsonmgs.

Commentary

In vitro studies showing the inhibitory effects of a daffodil-derived lectin on HIV and CMV infections indicate potential in biochemical research and in the development of new immunoassays for these viruses; however, there is insufficient evidence for future therapeutic use. Therapeutic claims are anecdotal and not based on controlled human trials. Daffodil plants are toxic, and caution should be used when handling them. This plant is not recommended for internal use.

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