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Sago as a source of carcinogens (cycasin) Сreated by 1st year student of the Faculty of Biology Master's Alexandra Brusser
Sago palms can easily cause death The ornamental Sago palms (which are really not palms at all) that many people use in landscaping and as indoor plants can also cause the death of your beloved pet. The Sago Palm, also known as Coontie Palm, Cardboard Palm, Cycad or Zamia, is in the family Cycadaceae, which showed up on our planet before the dinosaurs. They contain a very potent toxin called CYCASIN. Two other toxins occur in the plant but cycasin is found in the highest concentration and is thought to be responsible for the life-threatening clinical signs and death.
Cycads are hardy evergreen yard plants that grow in warm states, such as Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia, and are also used as ornamental houseplants. Lately, their increased use as houseplants has made them available all over the world. Cycads, such as Zamia floridana, Cycas revoluta, and Cycas circinalis, arose from vegetation that dominated in the Mesozoic era.
TOXICITY AND MECHANISM OF ACTION Cycad toxicosis has been described in people and many animals, including dogs, sheep, and cattle. Cycad palms produce three toxins: cycasin, beta-methylamino-L-alanine, and an unidentified toxin. Cycasin, which is converted to its aglycone, methylazoxymethanol, may cause centrilobular and midzonal coagulative hepatic necrosis and gastrointestinal irritation. In addition, cycasin is carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.
Beta-methylamino-L-alanine, a neurotoxic amino acid, causes ataxia in rats and is implicated in Guam disease in people. Guam disease is characterized by symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Lou Gehrig (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) diseases.The unidentified toxin, a high-molecular-weight compound, may cause hindlimb paralysis in cattle because of axonal degeneration in the central nervous system. All parts of the plant are toxic, but the seeds contain higher amounts of cycasin than do other parts of the plant. Dogs usually ingest the seeds. Although toxic, the young leaves are palatable.
Unfortunately these plants are not sold with warning labels so buyers often don’t know that they can be deadly if ingested. Many dogs, cats, horses, and a plethora of other animals find Sago Palms delicious. The entire plant is toxic but the seeds of the plant have the highest concentration of toxin and are, unlike the spiked fronds, easy to ingest. In fact, some veterinarians think that dogs are particularly drawn to these deadly treats. Often, Sago Palms are the only plants in a yard full of greenery that a dog tries to eat.
The poison in these plants is so toxic that dogs have died after ingesting a single seed. Once a pet has ingested and absorbed the toxin, death can occur in just a few hours. If you think that your pet has eaten ANY part of a Sago Palm, no matter what quantity, you need to seek emergency treatment immediately. This toxin can quickly take the life of your beloved pet. Some common clinical signs that your pet may have eaten Sago Palm include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, coma, seizures, and lack of coordination. Aggressive treatment must be started immediately.
Since there is no antidote for cycasin, treatment is used to minimize the adverse effects of the toxin on the body, particularly the liver, brain, and gastrointestinal tract. You can expect the veterinarian to run extensive blood work, begin the pet on intravenous fluids and/or a plasma transfusion, induce vomiting (if it has been a relatively short time since ingestion) and then administer charcoal to absorb the toxin. Additionally, various drugs need to be administered (generally by injection) to stabilize, support and treat the effects of this poison on the liver, brain and gastrointestinal tract. Without quick and aggressive intervention you can be sure that death will occur.
I’m recommend that you learn what plants you have and whether or not they are poisonous. Thank you for your time!
Information sources used: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/emergencyvets/2010/06/sago-palms-can-easily-cause-death/ http://blog.mysanantonio.com/emergencyvets/files/legacy/sago-palm.jpg http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/toxicology-brief-cycad-toxicosis-dogs http://files.dvm360.com/alfresco_images/DVM360/2013/11/17/347022ab-64b3-4053-9e1b-37a0912caf1c/i1.jpg https://face4pets.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/sago-palm2.jpg http://www.cloudforest.com/cafe/palms/sago-palm-warning-t5714.html http://www.stuartxchange.org/OlibaFruitInsert.jpg http://blog.mysanantonio.com/emergencyvets/files/legacy/sago%20palm%20seeds.jpg http://arleneaugust.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/toxic.jpg http://www.mif-ua.com/archive/article/33990 http://l.thumbs.canstockphoto.com/canstock7722225.jpg