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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

FDA Poisonous Plant Database

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AUTHOR(S): Banton, M. I.; Jowett, P. L. H.; Renegar, K. R.; Nicholson, S. S.
TITLE: Brunfelsia pauciflora ("Yesterday, to-day and tomorrow") poisoning in a dog.
YEAR: 1989 CITATION: Vet Hum Toxicol, 31(5), 496-497 [English]
FDA #: F19331
ABSTRACT: A 6 year old female Siberian Husky was admitted for emergency treatment of what appeared to be choking. The dog had excessive salivation with intermittent coughing and gagging. No foreign bodies or obstructions were seen or palpated in the mouth, larynx or esophagus, and breathing appeared normal despite the cough. During the physical examination the dog developed a clonic tonic convulsion. In addition to muscular contractions, she had dilated pupils, pale mucous membranes and difficulty with breathing. The convulsion lasted only a few seconds, and afterwards her pupils became pinpoint with absence of a menace reflex. A few minutes later she developed a tonic convulsion and was treated with pentobarbital. The ocular signs observed at this time were horizontal nystagmus. The patient was intubated and some stomach contents removed. Several seeds were in the stomach contents and were identified by the owner as seeds from a "Yesterday, To day and Tomorrow" plant (Brunfelsia pauciflora). The stomach was lavaged with water, and a solution of activated charcoal was instilled. During the next 4 days, the dog had many convulsions, was recumbent and seemed unaware of her surroundings. She was, however, especially sensitive to loud noises which seemed to trigger tonic convulsions. Her pupils were responsive to light but anisocoria was present. The treatment she received included intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, topical ophthalmic ointment, and anticonvulsant therapy using pentobarbital, phenobarbital or primidone. The dog was constipated for sometime after ingesting the plant. When she had a bowel movement, it contained hulls from the seed pods and evidence of the activated charcoal. After the fifth day, seizures no longer occurred. Anticonvulsant therapy was discontinued. Her appetite returned, and over a 3 week period she slowly began to gain strength and coordination in her limbs, with her front legs progressing faster than her rear legs. One year later, the dog is reported to be walking and behaving normally with the exception of reluctance to walk on the kitchen tile floor. Brunfelsia is a genus that belongs to the alkaloid-rich family Solanaceae (1). This genus consists of about 42 species of small trees and shrubs that are native to the West Indies and tropical South America (1). Brunfelsia pauciflora grows naturally in very wet forests at low elevations near the coast from Espiritu Santo south to Santa Catarina in southeastern Brazil and in the Imataca region of eastern Venezuela (2). This plant is available from tropical plant stores in the southern US and may be cultivated in subtropical climates. Brunfelsia is not likely to be found further north than New Orleans because of its extreme sensitivity to freezing temperatures. The popular name "Yesterday, To day and Tomorrow" refers to the rapid color change of the maturing flower. The young flower is bright blue to purple when it first opens and then fades to almost white as it matures. The Brunfelsia species (especially Brunfelsia uniflora. Brunfelsia mire, and Brunfelsia grandiflora) are best known for their medicinal importance to native healers of many Indian tribes in the Amazon region (1), Brunfelsia containing remedies have been described for a variety of disorders including syphilis, rheumatism and as an antidote for snakebite (1). These plants have also been used for their hallucinogenic/narcotic effects and as a fish poison (1). Several examples of Brunfelsia poisoning exist in the literature. Poisoning of cattle in the Columbian Amazon have been reported from ingestion of foliage of Brunfelsia grandiflora (3). Intoxication of dogs by fruit of Brunfelsia australis have been reported in Australia (4,5). The clinical signs reported include gastric and buccal irritation with salivation and vomiting, and nervous irritation with extensor rigidity and opisthotonus. In one report (4) the dogs also had diarrhea, spasms following tactile stimulation, and frequent urination. These signs were not reported in the second reference (5). However, an additional sign observed in one of the dogs was nystagmus. Several of these cases were fatal, and at necropsy lesions were confined to the intestinal tract. Gross lesions consisted of moderate edema and hyperemia of the terminal ileum (4). The signs we observed in our dog were similar to those observed with Brunfelsia australis poisoning, except that constipation, not diarrhea, was a problem. The pharmacologically active/toxic components of these plants have not been clearly identified. A variety of alkaloids have been isolated dating back to the late 1800's. However, detailed studies of their chemistry and pharmacology are lacking. Recently, a convulsant isolated from Brunfelsia grandiflora has been identified as pyrrole 3 carboxamide (6).
GRIN #: 8013 Exit Disclaimer
COMMON NAME: yesterday, today and tomorrow
LATIN NAMEBrunfelsia pauciflora
STANDARD PLANT NAMEBrunfelsia pauciflora (Cham. & Schltdl.) Benth.