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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - June 11, 2013

From: Albuquerque, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Ingestion of agave sap from Albuquerque NM
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My boyfriend was out in the Arizona desert without water for two days and sought moisture through what he thought was a yucca plant but instead we believe was agave. He sucked the moisture off the inside if the agave leaves and is having intense throat pains since. How poisonous is the agave sap he ate, and will the side effects get worse?

ANSWER:

We are not the authority your friend should be talking to. He needs to see a doctor NOW!

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on effects of the agave sap. This had not been ingested, as in your case, but there was a severe long lasting allergic reaction. The digestive system is reacting, possibly more violently, to contact with that sap than if it had only been the skin that was affected.

While tequila is distilled from one agave plant, it goes through considerable processing and dilution before it is drinkable and/or safe to drink. No one but a doctor can tell if there is internal damage, but certainly something must be done. If all your friend has to do is take antihistamines or steroids, he will be fortunate.

 

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