Harar has been described as a ‘Toxic plant’.
A team of researchers in the United Kingdom has claimed that Harar, a poisonous and invasive species of herbaceous plant, is capable of causing serious damage to the human body.
The team, from the University of Exeter, said the herb was found to have the potential to cause cancer and respiratory diseases, among other problems.
The research team, led by Prof. Paul Atherton, said that Harrar was ‘a potent neurotoxin, potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic’, and claimed that the plant was ‘the most toxic plant on the planet’.
They wrote that they were concerned about the potential effects of Harar on the human nervous system, which they said was ‘potentially lethal’.
The team said that the study had shown that the ‘effects of Harrars toxicity are similar to those of the human papillomavirus, which is highly toxic and causes a wide range of adverse effects, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases’.
The researchers also said that, ‘the risk of human health damage from the human consumption of this herb is estimated at between £100 billion and £300 billion a year in the UK, representing a substantial portion of the UK GDP’.
However, Prof Atherson said that it was important to point out that the research was ‘in preliminary stages’, adding that further research would be needed before a conclusion could be drawn.
Harar is commonly found in the Amazon region of Brazil, where the species is commonly used as a medicinal herb.
Harbours most common name is a Portuguese word meaning ‘a weed’ and, as with all plants, it has medicinal properties.
In the Amazon, the species has been identified as the ‘mother of all poisonous weeds’, and has also been used for centuries as a tool to kill mosquitoes.
Dr Robert Lacy, of the University College London, said it was clear that the species had the potential of being an ‘intrinsically dangerous’ plant.’
It is clear that it is very toxic to humans,’ he said.
‘There is a great need for further research into this species, which would be useful in determining how toxic it might be for humans.’
This is a very interesting and novel plant.’
Dr Lacy said that there were other toxic plants on the Amazon that were used as weapons, and that Hararb’s toxic potential was ‘probably much higher than anyone thought’.’
I think it is an incredibly promising plant for understanding the toxicity of plants in general,’ he added.
Dr Lacey said that his group would be pursuing further research on Harar to see if there were further potential health consequences.’
We would be interested in studying whether there is a potential for cancer in humans, if there is, what that might be like, if the toxicity is associated with cancer, or if it is associated only with a specific type of cancer,’ he told the BBC.’
I would be very interested to know more.’
Follow Richard on Twitter: @russ_felton