If you just brought home a new Monstera plant, you are probably curious to know if this plant poses some risks to you and your family. Or maybe you are wondering if it is safe to touch or eat the plant in the first place. After all, several Monstera plants are called “deliciosa” thanks to the delicious taste of their fruits.
So, does Monstera pose risk? Can Monstera cause allergies, for example? The good news is no, Monstera plants don’t cause allergic reactions per se. However, they can cause a painful and itchy rash on your skin. It is also not safe to consume these plants. The sap of Monstera contains calcium oxalate crystals that may induce swelling and a burning sensation that is almost the same as allergic reactions.
Do Monstera Plants Cause Allergies?
All kinds of substances can cause allergic reactions if the immune system of a person has an adverse response or reaction to it. Theoretically speaking, Monstera plants may trigger allergies. However, this is a very rare occurrence.
If your Monstera makes you suffer from a reaction, it is most probably due to the plant itself containing certain toxins and pretty much everyone will have a reaction to these.
Is Monstera Toxic?
Many plant owners are often appalled by the thought of Monstera being toxic. No one can blame them because of the harmless appearance of these plants. Several varieties can even produce fruits that people can consume. But the sap of Monstera contains toxins that are dangerous to humans in some instances.
Some people tend to be more sensitive to the sap than others to the point that just handling or touching the plant can result in a painful red rash on their skin. But most people can safely touch the intact leaves without any issues. However, damaged stems and leaves will cause a reaction since the sap of the plant can be transferred to the skin of a person.
In general, Monstera plants are categorized as toxic. It is unsafe to consume the leaves of these plants and will cause unpleasant results. The most common symptoms include a burning and sharp sensation on the spots where the plant touched the lips and mouth, with swelling possibly following it, which depends on how prolonged the exposure has been.
When a person ends up swallowing some bits of Monstera, the burning sensation may get worse and spread to the throat. It may even result in a sense of paralysis that can make a person panic since it can make breathing seem difficult.
It is extremely rare for exposure to the sap of Monstera to prove to be hazardous, even when consumption occurs. Most of the time, it will cause localized swelling, pain or discomfort, and possibly some other symptoms like nausea. However, this is not life-threatening and shouldn’t lead to long-term damage.
But there are causes when more serious reactions may occur and you should definitely not eat the plant, nor handle it regularly if you experience a bad reaction to it.
Why is Monstera Toxic?
Calcium oxalate crystals are the toxins responsible for this type of reaction. These crystals are present in the sap of most plants, and they are completely harmless in some instances. But in some plants like Monstera, they usually form shapes similar to a needle.
These shapes can lead to the formation of small lacerations once the crystals are handled or consumed, stabbing and damaging the flesh. It may lead to pain, swelling, and itchiness as the body’s reaction to the damage and intrusion of a foreign or unknown substance.
These crystals are not visible to the naked eye, as well as the small cuts they can make on your skin. Both are microscopic but are still present and can cause damage.
Your individual unique makeup determines the reaction of your body to these. Some people tend to have a more serious response to the lacerations and crystals alike while others will barely notice them.
Some owners don’t need to wear any protective gear when pruning their Monsteras while others have to put on gloves even if they will only brush by the plant.
But almost anyone will have a painful response if they attempt consuming this plant and will also experience burning and swelling around the mouth.
How to Avoid Negative Reactions to Your Monstera
It is always a wise idea to wash your hands properly and thoroughly after touching your Monstera. It may sound like overkill. However, it is the most recommended way to free your skin of residual toxins and guarantee that you keep yourself safe from potential reactions.
It is also important to be extra careful and avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and other sensitive parts of the body if you haven’t washed your hands yet because it will only increase the chance that the sap will cause irritation.
It is generally not good enough to wash your hands if the reaction already started. At this point, the skin already started suffering irritation and it might also continue for quite some time. This is why it is important to remove all toxins from your skin before they even get the chance to cause inflammation. Washing right away will also ensure that you will have a minimal reaction to the sap.
You also need to consider your personal response to the plant when trying to decide how to handle your Monstera. If you know that you have a strong reaction to your plant and your skin prickles even if you only touch the intact leaves, it might be best to ask someone else to step in if ever you need to handle the plant.
You can ask another member of the household to step in if your plant has to be pruned, repotted, or moved. It is especially so if the plant requires pruning because it is likely that you will be exposed to the sap containing the calcium oxalate crystals.
The Bottom Line
Monstera plants are toxic but don’t generally trigger allergies, although almost all types of substances can cause allergies in rare instances. The sap has a toxin content that can make people develop a painful red rash. Trying to consume a Monstera leaf may result in sharp pain, swelling, and a burning sensation.