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Daffodil ingestion causes symptoms of nausea followed by violent vomiting and diarrhoea. Daffodil bulbs contain an alkaloid the action of which, according to authorities, varies as to whether the alkaloid is extracted from the flowering bulb or from the bulb after flowering. Thus in the former case the alkaloid produces dryness of the mouth, checks cutaneous secretions, dilates the pupil of the eye, quickens the pulse, and slows and weakens the heart contractions. On the other hand, the alkaloid from the bulbs after flowering produces copious salivation, increases cutaneous secretion, contracts the pupil of the eye, produces slight relaxation of the pulse, and slight faintness and nausea.
A fatal case of poisoning from eating the flowers is on record. A salad of onions in which were mixed some bulbs of Narcissus poeticus caused Taormina, burning, copious stools with dreadful griping, obtuse senses, fainting, cold hands, cold sweat, symptoms not distinguishable from the usual effects of Colchicum, and similar to those of Narc. pseud.
The bulbs of the Daffodil, as well as every other part of the plant are powerfully emetic, and the flowers are considered slightly poisonous, and have been known to have produced dangerous effects upon children who have swallowed portions of them.
The influence of Daffodil on the nervous system has led to giving its flowers and its bulb for hysterical affections and even epilepsy, with benefit.
A decoction of the dried flowers acts as an emetic, and has been considered useful for relieving the congestive bronchial catarrh of children, and also useful for epidemic dysentery. A spirit has been distilled from the bulb, used as an embrocation and also given as a medicine and a yellow volatile oil, of disagreeable odour and a brown colouring matter has been extracted from the flowers, the pigment being Quercetin, also present in the outer scales of the Onion.
The Arabians commended the oil to be applied for curing baldness and as an aphrodisiac.
An alkaloid was first isolated from the bulbs of N. pseudo-narcissus by Gerard in 1578, and obtained in a pure state as Narcissine by Guérin in 1910. The resting bulbs contain about 0.2 per cent and the flowering bulbs about 0.1 per cent. With cats, Narcissine causes nausea and purgation.
N. princeps also contains a minute quantity of this alkaloid.