7 Plants that Could Kill You if Used Wrong


There’s been a bandwagon leap in the last few decades to try all things natural, because natural is obviously better, or so people believe. While we choose to believe that as well, we’re also a bit more on the realistic side.

Just because a medicine is “natural” doesn’t imply that it’s safe. Herbs are excellent substitutes for pharmaceutical medications as long as you use them properly. If not, some plants could actually kill you if used wrong.

Arsenic is natural and so is plutonium, but you’re probably not planning to toss either one onto your cereal in the morning. Many plants can cure a wide variety of illnesses in the proper dose but will cause poisoning, abortion or organ failure if you take you much. Here are a few of the top plants that you should be careful with.


Survivopedia Wolfsbane Plants that KillOriginally thought to have been gathered from the dripping jaws of the three-headed dog, Cerberus, Wolfsbane, aka Monkshood or Aconite, is wildly toxic, even in mild doses.

It is still used under carefully controlled circumstances as a sedative, fever reducer, and cold/flu medicine.

However, it has a notable effect on circulation, respiration and the central nervous system. Not worth it when there are so many other treatments out there.


Survivopedia Belladona Poisonous PlantsTranslated from Italian to mean “pretty woman”, belladonna, aka deadly nightshade, was originally used to dilate a woman’s pupils so that they glittered.

Now it’s used in the medical field under the name atropine and is used to treat bradycardia (slow heartbeat), arthritis, stomach cramps, hyperhidrosis, as a sedative, and to treat colds, sore throats, and hay fever because of its effects on the respiratory system.

However, though it’s extremely effective, it’s also lethal in a not-so-large dose.

Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, or people with congestive heart failure or ulcers shouldn’t take belladonna in any dose, or even come into physical contact with it.

Stinging Nettle

Survivopedia Stinging Nettle Stinging nettle has many uses in alternative medicine, such as treating urination issues, joint ailments, rashes, allergies, asthma and kidney stones.

It’s also applied topically to relieve muscle aches and pains. Though recognized as possibly safe when used appropriately and for less than six months by people in good health, it may cause sweating and stomach upset.

There is some evidence that above-ground parts can decrease blood sugar levels so if you have diabetes, you should monitor your blood sugar levels closely.

It may also lower blood pressure so if you’re taking blood pressure medications or are prone to low blood pressure, extreme caution should be used when taking stinging nettle.

Finally, if you have kidney problems, you should talk to you doctor before taking stinging nettle because it seems to increase urine flow.

Kava Kava

Survivopedia Kava KavaNative to the South Pacific, kava kava root has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety and restlessness, among other things.

It causes a sense of well-being and calm but there are some serious concerns about the side effects that have caused widespread ban of the plant in countries including the US, Switzerland, Germany, and Canada.

Serious illnesses, including liver damage, depression, and death, have occurred with even short-term use at recommended dosages. It shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women under any circumstances.

Devil’s Claw

Survivopedia Devil’s ClawThis plant is an anti-inflammatory often used to treat osteoarthritis and lower back pain.

Though there’s not much research to support using devil’s claw for anything else, it’s also been used to treat gout, upset stomach, muscle pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Though generally recognized as possibly safe in recommended dosages for up to a year by healthy adults, devil’s claw shouldn’t be used by pregnant women, diabetics, people with heart problems or abnormal blood pressure, or by people with gallstones or peptic ulcers.

It’s thought that devil’s claw may increase stomach acid and bile production.


SurvivopediaFoxgloveAlso known as digitalis, foxglove is treat congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat, asthma and epilepsy when ingested. Topically, it’s used to treat wounds and burns.

Foxglove is listed as unsafe for anybody to use without being under the direct care of a healthcare professional because all parts of the plant are poisonous.

It can cause irregular heart function and death. Long-term use can cause visual halos, stomach upset and yellow-green vision because toxicity occurs.

People with heart disease should definitely avoid foxglove as should pregnant or nursing women.

Also, people with kidney disease may not eliminate foxglove effectively and may become toxic, so they should avoid it, too.


Survivopedia ComfreyThis plant has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments. It’s brewed into a tea to treat heavy menstrual flow, stomach upset, ulcers, diarrhea, persistent coughs, bronchitis, sore throat, and chest pain.

It’s also applied topically to treat arthritis, wounds, rheumatoid arthritis, phlebitis, gout, and broken bones.

Comfrey contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause lung damage, liver damage, and even cancer.

The FDA has recommended that products containing comfrey be removed from US markets. It’s likely safe when applied topically to unbroken skin, though it is absorbed through the skin. It’s considered unlikely safe when taken orally or when applied to broken skin.

The truth of the matter is that most plants are just like most pharmaceutical medications. Though they may be therapeutic at certain levels, they are toxic when taken at higher doses or for extended periods of time. Some, such as hemlock, are lethal in even the smallest doses.

The bottom line? Know what you’re doing before you take anything herbal. If you’re pregnant or nursing, assume that what you take will pass to your baby. Remember that the same drugs that cure you can also kill you.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • WOW! I got goosebumps riadeng this post, Emily! I am about to leave to see my client, Karen, who, 35 years ago, was given 6 months to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her mind now is seeing the effects of radiation; she has slowed, and her walk is a very uneasy, slow, and painstaking shuffle. Her 81-year-old husband is her primary caregiver. The other day as she struggled to stand and then smiled at me, I realized my days with her are numbered and I chose to stay and sit with her to play dominoes, have a cup of tea. Cherishing those precious life-moments that may not come again. I love what you have to say about grace and this gift called Life. I see it in my special-needs clients who remind me that I am special, that they are special, and that life is short, so take time to smell the flowers along God’s Life Path. And sometimes I eat dessert before the main course too. You are so special to share these beautiful thoughts with us! Thank you! Eucharisteo, sister!

  • I worked the most part of my life as a nurse caring for Alzheimer people and just loved them. Don’t ever think they don’t know anything. you can tell who is good to them by who they follow around and their expressions when they don’t want anyone near them. IL’d like to add that if you can do anything about it, don’t let anyone sedate them. The first thing they do is get dizzy and fall, break a hip and it’s all over! I worked 30 years with them.

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