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Cestrum nocturnum Health Concerns
by Erowid
v1.0 - Aug 27, 2008
Ingestion of night jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum L.) has not been well-documented, but there is some reason to believe that caution is in order. The most commonly-reported problems associated with night jessamine are respiratory problems from the scent, and feverish symptoms following ingestion.

Some people - especially those with respiratory sensitivities or asthma - report difficulty breathing, irritation of the nose and throat, headache, nausea, or other symptoms when exposed to the blossom's powerful scent.1,2 Some Cestrum species contain chlorogenic acid, and the presence of this potent sensitizer may be responsible for this effect in C. nocturnum.3

Some plant guides describe night jessamine as "toxic"3,4 and warn that ingesting plant parts, especially fruit, may result in elevated temperature, rapid pulse, excess salivation and gastritis.1

The mechanisms of the plants psychoactive effects are currently unknown, and anecdotal data is extremely limited. In a rare discussion of traditional entheogenic use of the plant, Müller-Ebeling, Rätsch, and Shahi describe shamanic use of night jessamine in Nepal.5 They describe experiencing "trippy" effects without mentioning unpleasant physical side effects. Rätsch's Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants also describes a handful of reports of ingestion of the plant without mentioning serious adverse side effects.6

Spoerke et al.3 describe the following toxic effects reported from ingesting C. nocturnum:
Ingesting 15 lb of plant material caused a cow to salivate, clamp its jaws, collapse, and eventually die. A postmortem showed gastroenteritis and congestion of liver, kidneys, brain, and spinal cord. Although the berries and the sap are suspected of being toxic,7 several cases of ingestion of the berries have not shown them to be a problem, with one exception. Morton cites a case where children ate signficant quantities (handfuls) of berries and had no significant effects and another two where berries were ingested in smaller amounts, with similar negative results.2

Ingestion of green berries over several weeks by a 2-year-old child resulted in diarrhea, vomiting, and blood clots in the stool. Anemia and purpura [discoloration of the skin caused by subcutaneous bleeding] were also noted. A solanine alkaloid isolated from the stool was hemolytic to human erythrocytes.8
They further advise "Care should be taken when handling the broken plant, and the berries should be kept out of the reach of children."3

References #
  1. Queensland Government Poisons Information Centre. "Night blooming jessamine". Jun 27 2007. Accessed May 1, 2008; http://www.health.qld.gov.au/poisonsinformationcentre/plants_fungi/nibl_jessamine.asp.
  2. Morton JF. Plants Poisonous to People in Florida and Other Warm Areas. Hurricane Press. 1971. As referenced in Spoerke DG, Smolinske SC. Toxicity of Houseplants. CRC Press. 1990.
  3. Spoerke DG, Smolinske SC. Toxicity of Houseplants. CRC Press. 1990.
  4. Harborne JB, Baxter H. Chemical Dictionary of Economic Plants. John Wiley and Sons. 2001.
  5. Müller C, Rätsch C, and Shahi SB. Shamanism and Tantra in the Hiamalayas. Inner Traditions. 2002.
  6. Rätsch C. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. Park Street Press. 2005.
  7. Lempe KF, McCann MA. AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. American Medical Association. 1985.
  8. Fruthaler GJ. "Solanine poisoning". Oschner Clin. Rep.. Jul 1955:50.
Revision History #
  • v1.0 - Aug 27, 2008 - Erowid - Initial version published on Erowid.org.