Agency warns against toxic effects of eating moonflower seeds

ATLANTA (AP) - Some teens in Ohio got sick trying to get high from the seeds of a common garden plant known as a moonflower, federal health officials said Thursday.
The cluster of illnesses, which occurred last fall, may be a new form of substance abuse in the Akron-Cleveland area, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The teens recovered after a day or two of medical care.
Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with police departments in Akron and Cleveland.
The cases seem to be the latest twist on finding new and natural ways to get high. Teens from Wisconsin and Vermont have been hospitalized after eating parts of the jimson weed. A 15-year-old in Hawaii was hospitalized in February 2002 after eating flower petals from the angel's trumpet, a poisonous plant found all over that state.
Although the night-blooming moonflower is not on the federal list of controlled substances, law enforcement officials in the Akron and Cleveland area prohibit the sale of its seedpods for illicit use.
Eating seeds from the plant, which resembles a giant-sized, white morning glory and known scientifically as datura inoxia, may cause hallucinations and toxic effects such as seizures and coma, according to the CDC.
"Adolescents and parents should be aware of the potential toxicity from recreational use of a plant," health officials said.
The case of 14 Ohio adolescents who became ill last October and November was recounted in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report said the youngsters either ate seeds from the plant or drank tea brewed from the seeds.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)