Learn from My Mistake. Do Not Eat Raw Taro Leaves. They Are Poisonous.

raw taro leaves poisonous

Here’s the deal: please never, ever, ever, ever eat raw taro leaf.

I’m not sure where you live or if you even know what taro leaf is, but for the love of ALL the baby goats, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT eat raw taro leaf.

Taro grows like mad in tropical climates. It’s everywhere here in Hawaii. It has large green leaves (also called “luau leaf”) and the root is starchy like a potato. Both the taro leaves and taro root are commonly eaten throughout the islands. But they must, must, must be cooked properly first. Allow me to explain the fuckery.

Last week I was at my local health food store and I bought a big bag of taro leaves. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but the cute hippie chick who was in the produce aisle told me they were her favorite green and she just steams them and adds some salt and pepper. Easy peasy and delish. I was sold.

I tried the leaves that very night. I steamed a few of them in a steamer basket for about 15 minutes and then I made a badass bean and rice burrito using the steamed leaves as a wrap. It was solid. The next night, Luanne simmered some chopped up taro leaves in her instant noodles (yup, my woman loves instant noodles). She thought they were bomb diggity.

Then Saturday morning rolls around. Oh, Saturday, how I love thee. I threw on some Diana Krall, made a hot cup of brewing cacao, and then I sat on my deck and didn’t do a damn thing. It was perfect. When I got hungry about an hour later, I went to the kitchen to make a smoothie. This is where the narrative takes a turn straight into shit town.

I was running low on my regular smoothie greens (kale, collards, bok choy, chard and spinach) so I grabbed the bag of taro leaves and I added 3 big leaves to my blender, along with the other smoothie ingredients (water, soy milk, banana, frozen berries, ginger, turmeric and ground flax seeds). I poured a smoothie for myself and one for Luanne.

This would have been fine and dandy except for the small fact that RAW TARO LEAVES ARE POISONOUS AS FUCK.

After the first drink of smoothie, we both noticed a spicy taste. We shrugged it off because it reminded us of how arugula tastes in smoothies – not a favorite, but it gets the job done. After we had two more big drinks, it hit us. Something was very, very wrong.

My throat started to feel super hot. It was as if I had swallowed a bee and it stung me, mid swallow. Or maybe like I had swallowed a cigarette butt that was still lit. Either way, this hot, stinging sensation traveled up my jaw, all the way to my ears. I started coughing. At this point, I heard Luanne coughing as well. I shouted to her, “Put the smoothie down. Do not drink anymore!!” and I quickly went to my computer and Googled “raw taro leaves,” at which point the words “toxic,” “poisonous,” and “2 cases of death” popped up on my screen.

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Shit. Please don’t tell me that Luanne and I are going to die from eating a fucking plant. The irony would be way too rich.

I ran into Luanne’s office, took her smoothie away from her and dumped both our smoothies into the compost. Within minutes, the heartburn-like symptoms started. It felt like my chest was on fire from the inside. My heart raced. Luanne moved to the couch and laid down. I grabbed my phone and called poison control. I waited for 10 minutes for someone to pick up. As I was waiting on the phone, Luanne ran to the bathroom and forced herself to throw up to get the toxins out of her. An understandable move, but one that she would later regret.

Finally, a nice RN answered the poison hotline and she told me that raw taro leaves are extremely poisonous and they need to be cooked for a full 45 minutes to successfully remove all the toxins. Helpful news. Too bad I did not know this PRIOR to blending the shit out of the leaves, making the toxins even more bioavailable, and then drinking it down.

She told me that this was going to be painful but there was no need to go to the E R, unless our throats started to close up and we could no longer swallow. If we could breathe and swallow, then we were good to go and we would just have to wait it out because there is nothing that can be done about taro leaf poisoning.

She also firmly advised against throwing up if we could help it because the toxins that are on raw taro leaves are like tiny little razor blades. So if it hurt going down (which, CHECK, it did), then it would hurt just as bad coming up – but it would be even worse because it’s double the razor-like action (my words, not hers). Too late for Luanne, but now I knew that the exit strategy was through my ass, not my mouth.

By the time I got off the phone with poison control, I was pretty sure we weren’t going to die, but I did have a new symptom. My stomach felt like someone very large was punching it over and over again. I could barely walk and when I did, I was definitely walking like a hunched over 95-year-old man. We didn’t have diarrhea per se, but we had severe stomach cramps, tricking us into thinking diarrhea wasn’t far behind.

At this point in the story, Luanne was horizontal on the couch, I was hunched over in the armchair, and Sweet Pea was on the floor staring at us, wondering what the fuck went wrong with our happy Saturday morning.

That’s when we were hit with the next wave: sheer exhaustion and lethargy. We couldn’t get up. All we could do was be still and endure the burning, stinging throat, the hot esophagus, the severe chest burn, and the violent stomach cramps. Luanne stayed on the couch and I slowly shuffled to the guest bedroom. We both slept.

I got up two hours later. It was noon and I felt super hungover. My head pounded, my throat felt raw, my stomach was in knots, I was tired as fuck and everything ached. In all of my poisoned misery, however, I did manage to find some gratitude.

It has been over three years since I’ve had a hangover and going through this experience reminded me just how grateful I am to be done with that self-inflicted bullshit. Yes, this taro leaf douchery was technically self inflicted, but had I known that raw taro leaves would make me feel like an infected wart on the inside of a flaming hot asshole, I would NOT have partaken of this particular ingredient.

I moved to the couch with Luanne and we both moaned and groaned and felt sorry for each other and for ourselves. We stayed there for another hour, until I mustered up enough strength to make some simple miso soup because we needed something in our tummies. We sipped soup. We slept. We watched Shameless. This was on repeat for the rest of the day, until we went to bed at 8:30pm.

I woke up at 2:30am on Sunday morning with painful stomach cramps. I was tossing and turning in bed so I moved out to the couch. I farted really damn loud two times in a row and then I laughed and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 6:45am. Have you ever had a bad hangover and then the next day you were hungover from your hangover? That’s how we both felt on Sunday. We slept on and off all day. I ate some toast and drank some tea. We bitched to each other about how bad we felt. We slept some more. It was not a good day and we were asleep by 9pm. I did call the health food store where I bought the taro leaves and asked them to please put up a warning sign about eating them raw. They seemed receptive.

I woke up early Monday morning at 1:30am, again with intense stomach cramps. I moved to the couch and again, I farted SUPER loud (only once this time) and then I cracked up and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 6:30am. We both felt super lethargic and our stomach cramps were on high, but still no diarrhea. I worked from 7am to noon and then I slept for a few hours. We managed to go to the grocery store to get some activated charcoal in the hopes that it would help draw out some of the toxins that were making us sick.

At one point during our journey to the store, I couldn’t decipher whether I was super hungry, if I needed to shit, if I needed to lay down, if I needed to throw up, or if I was about to pass out. I felt like it was a yes to any and all of these scenarios. It was very confusing.

We managed to get the charcoal and while we were at the health food store, we did a spot check to make sure they put up a warning sign next to the taro leaves. You can see here that they did, so if you’re ever at Island Naturals in Hilo and you see this sign, you now know why.

I don’t know if the activated charcoal helped or not because on Tuesday we were still exhausted and had various lingering symptoms, especially tummy cramps and heartburn. By Wednesday, we still felt weird but we felt like there was hope that this was coming to an end.

It’s Thursday morning as I write this and I woke up with more energy than yesterday but my stomach still feels like it’s being punched. This time by a toddler, not a sumo wrestler, so hooray for that! Now, I didn’t write this poisonous tale for sympathy, oh no, no, no. We are going to be just fine and we don’t need anyone feeling bad for us. I wrote this as a public service announcement.

I can’t believe that something so potentially poisonous is sold so casually at a grocery store. As we talked to people in our private Facebook group about this, we heard from a lot of people who have lived in Hawaii for a long time who had no idea that eating taro leaves raw was so harmful.

On the flip side, we talked to one of our native Hawaiian friends and she lost her shit when she heard that we blended up and ingested raw taro leaves. She said that she won’t even buy the cooked leaves from most places. She has a couple go-to places she will buy from because these are the only people she trusts to cook them properly. So while this is common knowledge to some, other people are totally in the dark about it. I sincerely wish that I would have known about this before it was too late!

(above: taro growing in downtown Hilo. It literally grows everywhere.)

I’m not giving you a recipe today because, honestly, after reading this, I didn’t think you would be hungry, am I right?!

Have you ever eaten anything poisonous?

Tell us about it in the comments and maybe someone will be spared.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with learning from other people’s mistakes.

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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Meggie on August 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Fuck. Absolutely horrified that you’ve been through this, and hoping for much, much, MUCH better days in the very near future.

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Thank you Meggie,
      Feeling about 92% better this morning!

      • Holly on August 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm

        Fortunately, I haven’t been through such food poisoning, and I’m so sorry you both experienced that, and I’m SO GRATEFUL to have this knowledge now, so THANK YOU!!!
        I did read a very helpful article on Wellness Mama awhile ago, though, on food poisoning and what to do.
        She said the key was apple cider vinegar (one with The Mother, like Bragg’s) and activated charcoal (so awesome job on getting that!) Hopefully this is helpful! It’s the best food poisoning solution advice I’ve come across.

        • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm

          Great tip!

          • Jaime on July 4, 2019 at 7:09 pm

            You guys are brave!!!

            • Molly Patrick on July 4, 2019 at 7:34 pm

              Not brave, just ignorant! lol

              • KUMAR SATYAM on July 4, 2020 at 11:53 pm

                Fuck me. I just tore a bit of it and chewed it like 20 minutes ago. Started feeling weird in my mouth and throat. Threw out what was in my mouth, puked a bit. Still feeling like vomiting and weird in my stomach. I was looking for what the fuck happened online when I came accross this post. Wish I had read it sooner. Fuck Taro Leaves. Why do people eat them anyways….they’re not even so good…..?‍♂️

                • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on July 5, 2020 at 10:14 am

                  Oh no! We hope you get some relief. It’s safe when cooked, but raw taro is no joke! We recommend seeking out the advice of a doctor, medical clinic, or poison control hotline if you continue feeling unwell. <3 Stephanie

                • Doug J on November 9, 2023 at 6:48 pm

                  I’ve lived in Hawaii for 23 yrs. When the voyagers traveled here they brought with them many of the staples needed to survive. Coconuts and Kalo (taro) were among the most important. The nutritional value in Kalo is off the charts. It’s their superfood. The korm or tuber is a very slow digesting carb with a lot more flavor than potatoes. I’ve been eating taro hash browns for breakfast and it gives me energy till the middle of the afternoon. So many things to make with it. The leaf is better than spinach if you prepare it properly. With coconut milk, a little ginger. We put squid or chicken or tofu in it LauLau. It’s a big hit at potlucks.

                • Christine on March 14, 2024 at 2:07 pm

                  If you cook them long enough they are delicious and taste like spinach, but you have to cook them way, way down. Do not steam. Boil them for at least 30 to 40 minutes. They should be really, really soft. Cook 1/2 the time, drain the water. Cook 1/2 the time again, and drain the water again.

            • Abhay sharma on January 11, 2020 at 4:16 am

              I ate it .what to do i ate just a small part i cant imagine your situation . By eating just a small part i feel horrible.

              • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on January 11, 2020 at 7:43 am

                Hi Abhay, Sorry you are dealing with this! You can contact the Poison Control Center for guidance. I hope you feel better soon! ~Karen

                • Samjhana Dhungel on July 27, 2021 at 8:00 am

                  its very common food and eaten widely in our country . I found some here in indian grocery store yesterday and I was just showing my colleagues how beneficial it is for our health and telling her never ever it should be eaten raw and your story popped up . I feel sorry that you guys suffered a lot . there is one more thing I would like to add up that when you are prepping the taro either leaves or fruit always use gloves and if not available use some oil on your hands before touching it because it will be super itchy otherwise.

              • Kaitlyn on August 16, 2021 at 12:31 am

                I made the same mistake. I looked online and found some Chinese remedies. It seems raw ginger or rice vinegar can cure it. I put some raw ginger in my mouth and chew it then drink vinegar. The blade cutting sensation went away after I drank 2 cups of vinegar with chewed ginger .

                • Mel on November 5, 2022 at 5:48 pm

                  Thank you!!! I ate some fried roots but apparently they were undercooked since I had a stinging sensation in my mouth right after. Then hours later the feeling was in my upper stomach, I did this and it helped a lot

        • Simi cai on May 1, 2021 at 7:48 pm

          I am a Chinese, and I went through the same thing this morning. Normally I steam the taro root but this morning I fried it in a short time.
          After few bite, I notice there are something wrong,like hundreds of bees stung in my mouth.
          But luckily i immediately called my father,he is a Chinese doctor.
          He suggested me to drink a medicine called glucorune,which can help to dissolve the toxic. But I don’t have it in my hands.
          Then he suggested me to find some licorice and boil it and drink the water.
          It was magical , most the pain went away with in ten minutes after I drunk the licorice water.
          Thanks to my father and hope this information can help some poor ppl like us.

          • Kat on May 2, 2023 at 8:14 pm

            Thanks for sharing that effective remedy

      • Rathiya on August 18, 2020 at 8:50 am

        HI Molly,

        Thank you so much for writing this

        Evening I had a small leaf.what all symptoms you had at that time.. even i my having now. Is there any way that escape from throat burn and stomach burn ?

        • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 18, 2020 at 11:28 am

          Hey, Rathiya – Sorry you are dealing with the effects of eating raw taro. We do not know of any specific way to escape the burning sensation. If you are suffering, definitely call your doctor or poison control. ~ Team Dirty

      • Arathy on June 5, 2021 at 11:08 pm

        So…I’m here cus I chewed a tiny bit of a baby taro leaf cu I thot it was cute ?? thankfully I just took a tiny bite and right now my mouth feels like I ate fire or a bee. Reading this made me feel better cus I will live, I guess…anyway thankyou for giving out this warning, we all need it ? To tell you the truth, my family cooks taro leaves and it eat almost every week ,it’s a staple food item. But …I never knew….? I’m not telling my family about this..they gonna make fun of me..

    • Cathie on December 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      Bad kimchi is the only food ive ever gotten sick from twice fromt he same jar because i didnt realize that was what caused it the first time. Thought it was bad sushi.

      Anyway as soon as nasuea hit the second time i loaded up on a shitton of activated charcoal. Nasuea and cramps subsided quickly. If anyone takes a.c. Take more than suggested.

    • Jayp on March 3, 2020 at 3:55 am

      I just cut some taro and lick the knife and bite a small amount tof the root. It was really really small. My throat starts to itch, and I had difficulty breathing. So I searched on internet about it and about WHAT TO DO if it happens. But nothing. Then I found your article. I quite didn’t eat it, juste taste it and it was horrible, and you you ate a lots of leaves. You are lucky to be alive. I can’t imagine how painful it was. I don’t get why they don’t warn us about the reactions…

      • Molly Patrick on March 3, 2020 at 4:04 pm

        Feel better soon!
        It was truly awful.

  2. Anna M Miller on August 18, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Holy shit.. So sorry you went through that and thank you for sharing your story. I laughed at your comments about farting, laughing and then going back to sleep. So pleased I am not the only grown ass woman that thinks farts are hilarious. My husband is so not on the same page as me on that. He finds them nasty. Pleased you are feeling better.

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Farting is hilarious, especially when they are super loud. It gets me every time.

  3. Deb on August 18, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Your experience sounds awful. I’m sorry for you both and definitely appreciate the warning. 🙁

    My “poisoning” experiences were from taking niacin (major heat flash moving through my body where I could feel/see the heat moving up via bright red skin – lasted about an hour and also, per poison control, nothing can be done about it) and the couple times as an adult that I took zinc (threw up violently several times about 5-10 minutes after ingesting and then felt fine; the second time I took half as much as the first time but still threw up and then decided zinc tablets aren’t for me).

    For both things I wasn’t feeling great and tried it because someone said it helped them feel better.

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Damn, that sounds brutal!

    • Rebecca Kirkman on August 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      I also have bad reactions to zinc. It makes me lightheaded like I’m going to pass out! I thought I was the only one.

      • Francie on September 20, 2023 at 3:46 pm

        I hate zinc. It’s worse than swallowing iron on an empty stomach.

    • Joni Solis on September 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      I only take zinc right before going to sleep or I too will feel sick.

      As a child, my dad asked me to get rid of some Taro plants that were taking over our side yard. I didn’t know that this plant could hurt me and I didn’t wear any gloves as I dug and pulled them from the ground. HUGE mistake as my hands felt like they were on fire for an hour or more from getting some of their stem juice on them! I do still like Taro plants and still grow them but I am more careful handling them now.

      • Kat on May 2, 2023 at 8:17 pm

        Good to know to wear gloves – thanks

  4. Lillian on August 18, 2018 at 9:32 am

    You poor babies! Ugh, how terrible for you guys but thank you for the information as I will be traveling to Puerto Rico next week and I eat taro, the root veggie. No raw leaves for me!

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Have a great trip and enjoy cooked taro!!

  5. Jacqueline O'Connor on August 18, 2018 at 9:47 am

    OMG! I’m so glad you’re both through the worst of it. I had food poisoning back in college in the 80s, when eating a chicken salad sandwich from one of those machines in the Student Center was okay. Until it wasn’t. At one point in my tenth hour in the bathroom, when I had nothing left to throw up, I thought I was dying. Thankfully I wasn’t! I can’t imagine going through what you did for days. Hopefully, you have saved several people from a similar fate by going through this and telling us your tale. Carry on with your badass self!

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 10:22 am

      Damn it!! I know the feeling and it is TERRIBLE!!
      Glad you got through it!

    • Francie on September 20, 2023 at 4:06 pm

      Uh-oh, you mentioned chicken, so I have to come clean. After I decided to become a vegetarian back in 1971, one day I was craving protein. I didn’t know about the wonderful sources of plant-based protein back in those days. So I was snooping around the kitchen for something to satisfy my craving. I found a piece of chicken in the oven, and justified that I was too hungry for protein to maintain my new vegetarian diet right now. I would resume being a vegetarian tomorrow. I chomped into it and finished chowing down, down to the bone. That night, for the whole night, I had the worst stomach cramps I’ve ever experienced in my entire lifetime. After that excruciating ordeal, I swore I would never eat chicken again, or anything else non-veg. I’ve stuck to that decision for 52 years, but some of us need a strong karmic kick to help us choose a better diet and stick to good eating habits.

      • Team Dirty - Brittany on September 21, 2023 at 7:35 am

        Thanks for sharing your imperfection with us! And wow… 52 years later. Impressive!

  6. Leah Corbett on August 18, 2018 at 9:53 am

    That’s super good to know. I think markets that sell things like this should be required to have warning signs. I wouldn’t have thought to look it up before blending a smoothie either. I did know about rhubarb leaves, but my finding that out was a fluke, and didn’t matter cuz I don’t like rhubarb anyhow. Thanks for sharing your story, man that sucked for you! Glad you’re ok. xo

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Leah!
      I agree about the warning signs, damn!

  7. Shannon on August 18, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Oh Hun ,
    That’s sounds fucking terrible, although I was fully expecting diahoerra and you both shat yourselves Lol??
    All done – lesson learned. Hope ya both feeling back from the Void now .
    Love an Light
    Shannon in London x

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Yup, yup, carrying on!

  8. Kate on August 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Molly & Luanne — This is a great PSA, not just for those living where taro root is commonly found, but for travelers too. Wish it could be more widely known — if there’s a fatality it might wind up in the news but not when it incapacitates for a week with awful physical symptoms.

    I’ve never experienced poisoning but have had allergic reactions — such as niacin, like Deb posted here — which came on suddenly and frighteningly (especially the heart palpitations). The worst experience: A few days after discovering I was pregnant I had an exam by my gynecologist who wore latex gloves. I broke out in a rash so extreme that it covered my body from the top of my head to the undersides of my feet and all places inbetween. It was excruciating, itchy, and I cried a lot, scared it meant something bad. It didn’t. I just had to stay away from latex, at least during the pregnancy.

    I had to soak in oatmeal baths for long periods. What seemed to finally heal me up was going to a movie with my neighbor. She couldn’t stand how I was holed up indoors for 2 weeks and said I had to go out. I protested because I looked like a rashy ole freak, so we went to a mid-week matinee where no one else was around. The next day it began to dissipate and eventually I was rash-free and 8 months later birthed the best rash-free baby girl the world has ever seen 🙂

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Omg! Thank you for sharing your rashy experience, Kate!
      Glad all is well.

  9. Poppy on August 18, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Wow definitely sorry you had to go through several days of such extreme discomfort! I woke one night with spinning sensations and soon started vomiting. I was able to go back to sleep but felt really tired the next morning. I figured out the hard black seeds that were hiding in my frozen local cherimoya fruit got blended up in my smoothy and yes they are TOXIC. Have to be really careful finding every seed before blending. Thanks for your article. The funniest line for me is “I’m not giving you a recipe today because, honestly, after reading this, I didn’t think you would be hungry, am I right?!” Yep, right. LOL Take care and Aloha, Poppy

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Good tip on those seeds, my dear!

  10. Tina on August 18, 2018 at 11:14 am

    So awful! So sorry… so glad it wasn’t worse & you are both OK (or getting there) now. 🙂
    My only poisoning was from food, Chinese Restaurant Buffet (yech) 5 years ago. I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life (I won’t describe, ya’ll know what it does) for three (3!) days (longest ever with a bout of this sort), all I could do was sip water in between toilet hugging trips, which weren’t far as I pretty much lived on the bathroom floor (yech again). When I started trying to ingest some real food (the BRAT diet) I did OK, but after a week I tried to return to my “vegetarian” diet which included dairy & eggs, & there I went, straight back to being nearly as sick as I was the first time, although only a 24 illness this time. Apparently my gut flora was pretty destroyed & was incapable of digesting dairy or eggs: which on the POSITIVE side is when I transitioned to a VEGAN!! It took me a looong time to eat anything other than BRAT, and I soon learned that oil was also no longer a friend of my belly either, out it went! Do I ever eat at any kind of buffet? NO WAY! And that is my PSA: just don’t do it. God knows what nasty things it’s harboring from the kitchen or the clientele.

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Sounds awful, lesson learned!

  11. Rachael Mackenzie on August 18, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Sounds horrible! I’m glad your over the worst! I have a friend who is visiting her sister in Hawaii soon, I will check she knows!! Thank you!

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

      Yes, please do!

  12. Lori on August 18, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Holy shit, boss lady! So, I poisoned myself by cooking kidney beans in a crock pot instead of boiling the hell out of them for at least – what is it? – 15 minutes? DO NOT CROCK POT KIDNEY BEANS IF YOU HAVEN’T BOILED THE CRAP OUT OF ‘EM!

    Feel better!!!!

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

      Good one, thank you for sharing!

  13. Mary Kay on August 18, 2018 at 11:51 am

    I picked fiddlehead ferns this spring. (The new tender curled growth of ferns) Love them stir fried & cooked in soups. I had blanched them so I could freeze them. Threw a handful in the blender with my other green morning smoothie. I got that same biting spicy peppery taste on the 1st sip, but took another big drink anyway. Got a blister on my lip this time and my throat felt the same as as yours-all prickly. I threw it away at this point, but then my throat started tightening. Went to the clinic. Benadryl was the solution. Nurse asked where I had picked, which was along the side of the road in our small Alaskan village. She said it was probably roadside toxins & to pick only in the woods. Good advice, but I am fairly certain it was the fact that the ferns were not cooked. I gifted the rest of my ferns to a local resident who didn’t have any reaction.

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Fuck! You know the feeling then! Isn’t it awful?
      Thank you for sharing, this has been noted!

    • Fran on August 18, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      oh hey! I just told your story as a reply to someone else’s story about fiddle heads! LOL
      XXOO love you Sister 🙂

    • Margie on August 20, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      What you find out about your sister on a random post comment! Well, not so random as we are both big Molly/Dirty Girl fans – but still! haha

  14. heather on August 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Not poisoning per se, but as a young teenager, I made snickerdoodles, my favorite cookie. Being new to cooking, I didn’t realize that the flour in my mom’s canister was infested with weevils. After taking a bite of a cookie, I noticed it tasted “off”. I checked the canister and saw the weevils moving around. Totally freaked me out and over 40 years later I still cannot eat snickerdoodles. Bleahhhhhh

    • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Fucking weevils!!!
      lol – thank you for sharing!

    • Jenna on August 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      DO NOT put raw kidney beans in your smootie like i did. They are also poisonous not cooked. ??

      • Molly Patrick on August 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        Poor thing! Yes, all beans must be thoroughly cooked.
        Sorry you learned the hard way.

  15. Lyndsey Hafer Williams on August 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Oh Honey! Lori and I are both aghast at your turmoil and laughing at the same time. It brought back severe food poisoning memories from a Mexican restaurant many years ago – I had to go out and buy us all new underwear after that particular incident. I’ll spare you the shitty details, primarily because Lori is mortified that I’m posting this much. Lol! Anyway, so very glad you and Luanne are on the mend.

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Aghhh!! New underwear!!lol – the worst!
      Love you two!

  16. Linda on August 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    McDonalds + salad = food poisoning on such a level that I seriously didn’t know which end to put in the shitter. This happened 2 years ago, on December 23rd, just across the Canada/US border, as we were heading to Florida for the winter. Within 2 hours I was so violently ill, I really became concerned for my welfare. The next 2 days are a blur, as my partner drove further south to escape the snowstorms (we were hauling a big ass camper and he did a LOT of cursing), and I lay groaning on the front seat, curled up in a ball. On Christmas Day, at a campsite in South Carolina, I managed to consume veggie broth and water. The.Worst.Christmas.Ever! I recovered a few days later, thankfully before we arrived in Florida. I read recently that the same thing has happened to a bunch of people eating Mickey D’s salad, 4 of them hospitalized (which in hindsight I probably should have been). Dear Molly and Luanne, your story was as scary as all get out, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. But while I was groaning in agony for you, I was also laughing my ass off because OMG you are funny!

    • Christy Bernhard on August 20, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      I got it from a Wendy’s salad years and years ago! Fast food salads are lethal man!

    • Geron on August 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

      Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Do you know that when I Google “Taro leaves”, your article was the first one that showed up? And for good reason! Anyone could have easily made that mistake if people are promoting it as a health food. I am really really grateful for this article.

      • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 30, 2019 at 11:12 am

        Hi Geron, Thanks for stopping by. Indeed! We are glad you found this post because the raw leaves need a big caution sign. ~Karen

  17. Peggy Buttinger on August 18, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    RAW fiddleheads. Never been so sick, vomiting and uncontrolled diarrhea allll night long.
    I live on the east coast (New Hampshire) and fiddleheads are a Spring delicacy….cooked!
    I thought it would be creative to just have them raw in a salad. The next day when I knew I was not going to die but wanted to research fiddleheads, bingo….HAVE TO BE COOKED, raw they are toxic.
    The perils of being a plant based whole foods eater I guess. Thank goodness we all survived all the wiser and can warn other potential victims 🙂

    • Fran on August 18, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      oh man, I was in S.E. Alaska and picked them in the raw in the wild and ate them…no prob. On the other hand, my sister, also in S.E. AK, just a different town, picked some and put them in her smoothie, RASH and yucky. Her MD said it was prob. because she picked them off the side of the road and prob. had chemicals on them from the pollution of the cars passing by…?? I also have family members that have cooked them and have been fine eating them. (I come from a big family)
      Interesting that we all had different reactions to them!

  18. cindy brough on August 18, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    How awful! So sorry you guys had to go through that.

    It was 1982, we were on our honeymoon in Chicago, staying at the Hyatt downtown. First day there and we went to brunch at the top of the John Hancock building. Lots of food and champagne. The only thing I didn’t have a bite of was the scallops. During a nap afterwards I woke up to the sound of my husband in the bathroom. It got so bad I had to call the hotel doctor. He called an ambulance and we spent the night in the ER. Early eighties and of course the hotel thought drugs were involved so our room was raided by hotel security. Great story for the grandchildren

  19. Terry on August 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much for the PSA!! I never ate taro in the few years I lived there, but am now grateful I didn’t. What a horrible experience to endure. The only “poisoning” I’ve ever experienced was at the hands of my mom around 1977 (who was a nurse with free range of all meds). I was going through a seriously stressful time (teen years!) and she gave me the med of the day (here, honey…this will help) which soon had my eyes uncontrollably rolling back and my tongue uncontrollably retracting in my throat. Scary as shit!!! But, I survived. And she had to explain it to the docs at the hospital!!
    So glad you’re both better and still able to carry on with more fuckery?

  20. Heather on August 18, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Sounds like a horrible experience! Glad to hear the two of you survived!! My daughter had a nasty reaction to mango skins. She put a slice of mango on its skin to her mouth to eat it and ended up having blisters all around her mouth. It was similar to poison ivy- it bubbles and spreads. The doc said that people react to mango skin. Who knew- I think that grocery stores should put up signs about this phenomenon. Who knew!!

  21. Debra on August 18, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Lesson learned, you poor poor girls ! I believe the raw taro should not be eaten as well that it also needs to be cooked. Feel better soon, big hugs ❤️

  22. Jenell Boyd on August 18, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    What a terrifying ordeal! I want to share my own warning. So way back in 6th grade (1991), we’d been reading My Side of the Mountain, and two boys brought in “wild foods” to share: wild carrots.

    I found wild carrots at home a week later after digging around, and ate them. That night I’m at the hospital getting my stomach pumped out. My mom called poison control and learned wild carrots are also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, and it is poisonous.

    I’m amazed the entire class didn’t get sick like I did. 🙁

  23. Karen on August 18, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Not really food poisoning, but I was poisoned while eating…Growing up, in my house we were pretty casual. We used the counter for food preparation, especially to avoid dirtying dishes, so I was making a bologna sammich, ate it, and later that night felt like needles were attacking every joint in my body. Turns out it was stricknine (sp) poisoning because my mom had sprayed for ants, and didn’t tell us the counters were coated in it. It was dry, but a tiny bit of it must have gotten on my bread. Really thought I was dying.

  24. Kitty Austin on August 18, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    I picked up taro leaves at the Asian market. They are dried and I was thinking about trying to brew them into my tea. Not thinking about it anymore. Yikes.

  25. Parchia on August 18, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    I’m Jamaican, part of our national dish, ackee (looks like scrambled eggs but is a fruit) is poisonous unless it is picked at the right time and prepared properly. I’ve eaten it many times without incident.

    Glad you are feeling better.

  26. Sue Serpico on August 19, 2018 at 7:17 am

    What a horror story!!! So glad you lived to tell the tale, so sorry you had the tale to tell! I’ve had a few experiences with probable food poisoning (two, and not sure what the source was, both restaurant related), but wanted to mention an incident that poisoned my daughter’s two dogs – daffodil bulbs. The dogs got into a pot of bulbs that were dumped out under the deck (blooms were over, waiting to transplant in the fall), chewed them up, and ended up nearly unconscious, vomiting and drooling uncontrollably. They survived, but it was touch-and-go, and they had to spend several days at the animal hospital.

  27. DREA on August 19, 2018 at 10:52 am

    thank you so much for posting. this is awful to read! Im so glad you’re both on the mend. THANKS FOR POSTING.

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Thank you! Feel about 95% better today!

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      You are most welcome 🙂

  28. Karela Blinco on August 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

    I’m so sorry about your experience!
    Last year when I bought my instant pot I bought all the ingredients for your smoky Gouda sauce and placed them in my brand new ip. I didn’t know about how long natural release took and so I started the recipe about 8 o’clock. (Btw, I had heard how good it was and doubled the recipe)
    Well, it took forever to get to the countdown and then I needed to go to bed cuz I had work the next day.
    In the middle of the night I caught the stomach bug my hubby gave me. For the next 3 days, I couldn’t even stand to go in the kitchen because of the smell of the smoky Gouda.
    When I got better, I took a poll of the dirty girls and they all advised to dump it.
    I still cannot stomach the thought of smoky Gouda sauce.
    My nice new ip ring still smells like smoky Gouda though LOL

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      I am so sad for this story because that Smoky Gouda Sauce is the bomb!
      Thank you for sharing!

  29. Lisa on August 19, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I had a similar experience with uncooked beans. About 4 years ago I had finally decided to try and transition to Raw Food eating. I had read a few books on going raw but didn’t do a lot of research on which beans you could and could not eat raw and didn’t realize that some beans are very poisonous if eaten raw. I always hated any kind of beans and never really ate them except for in chili so I figured the best way to try different kinds was to get a mixed bag of them that was made to be used in soups. I ended up soaking them overnight and putting them in a salad the next day. Within in about 30 minutes I was sweating profusely, my head was pounding, I spent most of the day on my knees hunched over in pain. I felt like there was an animal inside me clawing its way out. I threw up more than I ever had in my life and even when there was nothing left I still dry heaved for hours. It was the worst experience of my life. To this day I will not eat any beans raw even the ones that are safe. I love trying new things but now I approach anything new with caution and research the heck out of it before I decide to try it. Glad you two are feeling better.

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      Damn, that sounds awful!
      Thank you for sharing.

  30. Joe DiNovo on August 19, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Molly and Luanne, sorry you got so sick. Glad you are doing better.
    I sent your blog to my amazing daughter. She asked why I sent it. I told her read it.
    It could help your life! She read it then called me. Said, she feels bad for you both. What about it? Ok read it again. There is a message in there. She read it again. Busted out laughing! I asked what is so funny?
    She said. “You always told me that if a guy laughs when he or you farts! He’s the one for you.” That will make your life better!

    • Molly Patrick on August 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      Ha! My mom told me the same thing!
      Thank you for sharing.

  31. Rebecca McDonough on August 20, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Mango peel. Nothing like what you went through, but unpleasant nonetheless.

    I’m so glad you’re better! People think plants are benign, but can you say “hemlock”? Not for nothing, Semites, both of the Jewish and Arab persuasion need to be careful with fava beans, which can cause deadly hemolytic anemia… just from inhaling the pollen, and of course, from consuming them. The list goes on.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  32. Lori Ann Costello on August 20, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Good glory! While I feel for you two, the story also (literally) made me spit water everywhere. 🙂 Glad you’re on the mend! Many moons ago, a friend gave me an assortment of tea bags from England. I brewed a cup of Earl Grey tea and after two small sips, noticed that I was covered head to toe in bumps – think Nestle Crunch! Then the itching started…god awful. Felt OK, but something was clearly amiss, and it was that damned tea! Years later, was taking an ornament-making class at a fish hatchery (my dorkiness knows no bounds!) and the instructor was talking about making pomanders….out of oranges…and happened to mention “oh, if you can’t drink Earl Grey tea, it’s because of the Bergamot oil.” (it’s flavored with oil from the Bergamot orange.) Mystery solved! I’ve never had it again, but have to be careful at tea shops, because it’s often the “house” tea.

    • Molly Patrick on August 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      This is so good to know!
      Thank you for sharing.
      I love your dorkiness.

  33. Karen Warneke on August 24, 2018 at 1:01 am

    My son’s father is Samoan and their family had a large taro plantation while he was growing up. Taro leaves cooked in the ground with coconut milk is one of my all time favourite foods, and a real treat, even for son’s Dad’s side of the family.

    I thought it would be good to point out that even when cooked, taro leaves are not considered a food that should be eaten by someone who is pregnant. Oh how upset I was to hear that when the rare opportunity to have my favourite dish came up and I was pregnant with son. I had to suck it up, ’cause there was no way their family would allow me to have even a small bite.

    I’m very sorry for your experience, and thanks for warning others.

    • Carolee on October 24, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      I’m very grateful for you comment, as I am 13 weeks pregnant right now and I just bought 2 bags of taro leaves to make a Tongan dish with the corn beef, mayo & coconut milk. I just finished tearing the leaves, and I chewed a small RAW piece and so did my 5 yr old daughter and my 20 month old daughter. SMDH!!! WHY IS THERE NO WARNING? We all started freaking out and my girls were crying and I rushed to the pharmacy and we took Benadryl but it didn’t help, because it’s not an allergic reaction, it’s freaking POISONOUS! Then I ended up here, reading this. I was still planning to make the meal tomorrow, but now I am going to use spinach instead. I originally wanted to use spinach, but they don’t have the huge leaves here. Anyways, I’m worried about my baby now. Just glad that I didn’t swallow the taro leaves. My toddler and I both spit it out and my 5 yr old only swallowed a small piece, thankfully!!! We are all doing ok right now.

      • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on October 25, 2018 at 6:41 am

        Hi Carolee, so sorry that you and your little ones had to go through this. If you are worried, definitely talk to your obstetrician. The scientific name for taro is colocasia if you want to research it more and talk to your doctor so you can allay your concerns. ~Karen

      • Cathie on December 16, 2018 at 1:10 pm

        Am i the only one who researches if foods can be eaten raw? Anytime i buy somehig new that is the first thibg i do…

        • Molly Patrick on December 16, 2018 at 7:46 pm

          That’s because you’re awesome!

  34. Jack Jones on August 25, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Sorry, I meant star fruit may destroy the kidneys, not the liver. Still bad tho! Very bad if you have any kidney problems, esp. if you don’t know that you do. Also not good if taking certain prescribed drugs.

  35. Katie on November 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    My husband, myself, and 1 year old son all got food poisoning a few years ago from a buffet. We were sick as dogs all night, and my husband and I had to take turns helping our poor toddler deal with his mess in between our own. It was a shitshow, literally and figuratively. Thanks for sharing, and the warning!

  36. Doug on November 26, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Interesting. Sorry for your horrible experience. I actually found your story/article during a search that was sparked by THIS “episode” from Gone With the Wynns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQV5ZdF0cGw where she had an allergic reaction (external) just from rubbing up against the leaves. That just seems like a plant I’ll leave out of my diet altogether.

    • Molly Patrick on November 26, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      It’s brutal!!
      Lesson learned!

  37. Lisa on December 1, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I make potato chips out of taro root that I mandolin to a nice chip size. Today, I don’t know why, I ate the taro root raw. Within a minute I felt like ants were biting the inside of my mouth. It continued down through my chest. I ran to my computer and found your story when I googled “how to counteract eating raw taro root”. It is now about an hour after I ate it raw. My chest feels like being sat on by a cow. I have a headache and I’m on the couch. I ate activated charcoal, and drank baking soda in water. I don’t think I’m going to die, but I’m not looking forward to what is coming next. I did however crack up in parts of your story, and I appreciate what you went through. Take care. I’ll try. And, for fuck’s sake NEVER EAT RAW TARO should be in the bible.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 2, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Oh no! Hope you are starting to feel better, Lisa! ~Karen

  38. Kiki on December 20, 2018 at 10:37 am

    So sorry this happened to you! One good idea to do while cooking with food from different cultures is to check the background of the food. Any native islander would have told you steer clear unless you knew how to properly clean it. I would stick to asking a native about these dishes next time as opposed to someone who has just lived their for a long time.

    • Molly Patrick on December 20, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Great plan!

  39. Brian on December 25, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Damn! When through the same ordeal just this morning. Luckily I had just a little. My throat is still numb and making it hard to swallow. I had to Google it up fast to find out what type of taro leaves I ate this morning and saw your post. No taro leaf for me again..

    • Molly Patrick on December 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      It sucks so bad, I feel for you!
      It does get better, just hang on!

  40. Mary Howell on January 8, 2019 at 7:40 am

    OMG, my best friend and I had a similar disturbing but now hilarious story when we ate raw taro leaves in Fiji. Thank you for sharing this horrible/hilarious story!

  41. Ray Mak from YouTube on March 23, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Thank you so so so much for writing about your experience. I had the same experience eating raw wild taro leaves that grew all over my garden. Felt like hell and stupid at the same time. Exact same experience you had. Now I know why!

  42. Boshena on March 23, 2019 at 2:09 am

    I just found your site AFTER I ate a not-fully-baked taro chip. In fact I put it in my mouth, than spat it out when it started burning immediately…
    I don’t recall ever suffering from eating anything this bad. The only thing I think would resemble it would be putting a hot coal in your mouth. It is just nasty…

    So, I googled it and am extremely relieved that I probably won’t be dying from it, just be sick for a day or two.
    No more taro chips for me. I will remember them forever…

  43. Ben on April 11, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Honestly, this story made my day!

  44. V on May 19, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    Sounds more like you ingested a form of elephant and the leaves also appear to be elephant ears. Taro is really hard to grow.

    • Martin on November 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      No what was pictured is taro, although sometimes taro is called elephant ears.

  45. Malti Patel on June 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for evryone’s time to add comments on different food poisoning. One of my chinese friend gave me some bulbs for gardening – I was not sure what bulbs they were so I called her can we eat leaves from the bulbs you gave me , she it is Tauro root bulbs ,chinese people cook Tauro root and make many delicious dishes but she was not sure about Leaves. She did mention that it may be poisonous but not sure so I decided to google before I cook. Thanks a lot for saving me.

    • Molly Patrick on June 11, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      So glad this helped you!

  46. Hillary on July 14, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Hi molly!!! This happened to me two nights ago and I’m nervous because the pain isn’t going away. I ate a bit of the raw leaf on Friday night, and it’s now Sunday afternoon and my tongue and throat is still so uncomfortable. And my esophagus hurts a bit and my stomach too. I know it will probably go away soon, but what foods should I avoid in the meantime, and what should I eat? I find that I wake up and it’s fine, but it slowly gets worse throughout the day. It even almost hurts my ears, in a “very mild ear infection” sort of way (only sometimes, not constant.) what do you suggest? Ugh this sucks!!!!!

    • Molly Patrick on July 15, 2019 at 5:17 am

      Hi Hillary,
      I understand your pain!
      It took almost three weeks before I felt totally normal.
      It will go away but it does take time.
      Hang in there!!

  47. Patti O on July 18, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I grabbed the taro leaf off the shelf and said “I don’t even know what to do with this” and my hsuband said “Well then don’t get it”, but I snapped at him and said “I’ll figure it out!”. Went home, took a bit of a taste to see what I was working with and the hell fire began. I tore through the bathroom looking for aloe vera to gargle, settled on jajoba oil (?) I was not in my right mind, am still out of it. Full on poisoning. It sounds liek I only had a small dose in compariosn to you two, but HOLY FUCK that wass uncomfortable. Thanks for your entry, it was the only one I found with anything more than “Just don’t eat ’em”.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on July 18, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Patti O!! Oh no! Glad you are ok and thanks for stopping by! ~Karen

    • Molly Patrick on July 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      I’m so glad this was helpful!
      When I went through my experience I also could not find very much about it online so I decided to write about it.
      It’s such a horrendous thing to go through!
      Feel better soon.

  48. Ruchi on July 25, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Hey.. I came across your blog while searching for what happened to me last night. Well, I am from India and yesterday I was trying to make a dish called “Patra” from the state of Gujrat in India and guess what’s the main ingredient of the dish.. heck yeah, Taro leaves! As I am not from the state of Gujrat so of course I didn’t know the nitty gritty of a dish from that region. So basically, I had to devein the leaves, make a thick roll after placing leaves one upon another while applying spiced gram flour paste on each one them and finally steam. What I didn’t know how long to steam so I took the roll out, cut it in small pieces and I knew the leaves were a little raw and undercooked so I was like meh.. I am hungry so will just toast it lightly to give it the right texture. I made it and had around 3-4 pieces when I started to feel this needling sensation in my throat, my ears were buzzing and my chest was feeling heavy. It wasn’t as bad as your’s but bad enough to last till 4 in the morning and as I am writing this my upper body still feels heavy. So, yeah #relatable and great post. Thank you for sharing this valuable experience.

    • Molly Patrick on July 26, 2019 at 2:07 am

      I feel your pain, Ruchi!
      I am so sorry you experienced the sting of raw taro. #somuchouch
      At least now you know! That’s how I feel about it. I will never LOOK at a taro plant the same.
      You are not alone, my dear. Also, know that your pain will pass, it just takes time.
      Sending you lots of love!

  49. Martin on November 7, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Reading this after just doing the same. Fortunately I only took just a taste, but it’s like eating a cactus.

  50. Sas on January 18, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Omg can’t believe you actually survive ingesting 2 whole taro leaves.. Mustve been agony. I made that mistake with taro once in Malaysia but only took a bite, and that alone gave me blisters in throat and mouth. Wow this site will help warn others hopefully. On the bright side your detailed story is quite funny. Glad you can now laugh about it…

    • Molly Patrick on January 19, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      It was horrible!
      Glad you didn’t eat more than a bite!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on January 20, 2020 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for stopping, Sas! Molly & Luanne have documented their Malaysia travel (Luanne is from Malaysia) in a few other blog posts we invite you to check out! Thankfully, accidental raw taro ingestion has not been a part of those adventures. ~Karen

  51. Rona Reid on March 5, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this PSA! I was just doing a little search on both the leaves and the roots, for future recipes, and I found your VIPost. I’ve eaten cooked taro root a couple of times and liked it. A lot of recipes use the leaves for wraps to cook foods…like banana leaves are used. In my search I found several notes on cooked taro leaves being both a super food, filled with nutrients, and recommended for pregnant women, so of course I was amazed to see a comment from a woman who said her family wouldn’t allow her even a bite of the cooked leaves when she was pregnant! I really think we need more accurate information about these dangers, especially as we are in an age of ‘global cuisine’, when unusal foodstuffs are being newly introduced to areas thousands of miles away as a common part of every day life.
    For my own part I once made homemade yogurt with sour milk….a month later I was okay, (but my doctor had told me there was no actual cure, and that my nightly visits to the washroom might continue indefinitely). Another woman I know developed a bacterial infection of some nature when travelling in India (and I’m sure what caused it tasted absolutely delicious). It has been causing her gut difficulties for years now! So sad. I have not had the opportunity to travel outside of North America, but I have heard from other travelers that activated charcoal is a necessary companion…so if my future does take me to any wonderful and exotic place, that is definitely top of the list of what’s in my carry-all.
    Wishing you all great health and happiness!!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on March 10, 2020 at 6:13 am

      Hi Rona, kudos to you for taking time to research potential ingredients and learn about them. ~Karen

  52. PAM on March 10, 2020 at 4:13 am

    I did the same thing last night but took a night of leaf and had milder symptoms . Sorry about your horrible experience. Mine was really scary also.

  53. Maurie on May 21, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Molly,
    Just read your blog on your experience with eating taro leaves. Had a good chuckle on your well written and entertaining letter. I had a similar experience many years ago now, when my son, who was about 4 at the time, decided to have a munch on a taro leaf. He started screaming almost immediately and I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with him. He was holding the remains of a taro leaf in his hand, so i suspected that this is what the problem was. Wanting to be sure, i thought i would chew on a small amount of leaf to see what the symptoms were…. and holy shit, my tongue immediately went numb. It felt like someone was sticking hundreds of needles into it, and no amount of drinking water and spitting gave me any relief. I can’t imagine the pain you and your partner would have been going through.
    We can all laugh at our mistakes looking back now.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on May 22, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      Oh wow, Maurie! We’re so happy you and your son both escaped with relatively little harm done. Sending you lots of love (and laughs)!

  54. Lihau on May 26, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Hey, I was born and raised on Maui. I’m a Native Hawaiian and grew up in the culture, but Luau (taro) leaves are not poisonous. If that were the case then pretty much anything would be poisonous unless cooked properly lol. Hawaiians used to eat this all the time before colonization. They do leave terrible itchy feelings in your throat if not cooked properly, so be careful! Rinse your mouth with a baking soda and salt mixture if it does get itchy. Never eat it raw, always make sure that you steam it for an hour or more, which is what our family does. If you eat it with shoyu it’s the best, wrap it around chicken or fish and you have laulau!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on May 27, 2020 at 7:34 am

      Yes, it’s the raw taro leaf consumption that caused Molly and others trouble. Thanks for sharing, Lihau! ~Karen on behalf of Team Dirty

  55. Komal on May 30, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Is there any medicine to feel comfortable after eating it raw please tell me

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on May 30, 2020 at 11:40 am

      Hi, Komal! We do not know of any specific medicine to feel comfortable after consuming it. We definitely recommend seeking out the advice of a doctor, medical clinic, or poison control hotline. They will be able to safely guide you or someone you know that has accidentally ingested raw taro. This is what Molly did when she consumed it not realizing it was so toxic. ~ Karen + Team Dirty

  56. Lisa on May 30, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    The horrible day I ate raw taro root I tried everything. I took activated charcoal. I drank tablespoons of Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With The Mother. I tried eating some fermented coconut yogurt to sooth my throat. I had a horrific headache so I took Advil and laid on the couch and tried not to die! Scared the crap out of my husband! And ME TOO!

    Good luck! Xoxo

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on May 30, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      Glad you made it through ok, Lisa! I hope Komal, who posted earlier today asking for medicine to feel comfortable is ok. ~Karen + Team Dirty

  57. Scott on June 4, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    my GF is Vietnamese we eat taro, squash leaves, polk salad, rubarb all the time. All of these except Squash leaves must be prepared properly or they could kill you. And all of these taste like collard greens or spinach……taro is great because it grows so fast.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on June 4, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Absolutely! We love to encourage our readers to eat a wide variety of leafy greens as long as they’re washed and prepared safely. Thanks for the comment, Scott!

  58. Jas on July 22, 2020 at 8:39 am

    I did the same thing , but I just ate a bit of it , torn peice which was about to go in the steamer.

    My whole mouth got numb, and stinging sensation in the mouth.
    Had 2 cups of green tea after that, felt better within 2 hours.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on July 22, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Glad you only had a small amount and felt better soon after! ~Karen

  59. Cassandra on August 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you so much! We live in Peru, and our friends little boy just put some in his mouth… It’s helpful to see what experience he may have, and what to look out for. Luckily he didn’t swallow any, but so far, it still sucks almost as much as what you have said. So, wow!

    There was a funny story about getting back at raiders in a Salish Indigenous community. The story was told by one of the elders in our ethnobotany class… Arum family plants (the family Taro is part of) grow in Washington and British Columbia, and when properly processed can be considered a food. But, if not processed properly, they will give that same experience you so sadly had to have. The story goes that after several robberies, the raiding party was coming again to the village… but the village was prepared. They ran to safety, though left a big pot of stew going over the fire thinking the theives would help themselves to it. Surely those thieves did! MMM, who could resist? But the villagers had spiked the stew with those plants. They returned to find the thieves writhing on ground in agony. And now, thanks to you, we know exactly how they suffered hour by hour.

    Oofff, I am so sorry!

    I have almost poisioned myself eating bitter almonds!!! HAHA, I am laughing now…. but what a way that would have been to die.

  60. Kealoha on September 12, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Wow only a haole would do some dumb shit like that. Wow.
    Brah you supposed to cook them. Duh. It’s called Laulau.

  61. Luanne Teoh on September 12, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Sending you so much Aloha for your sweet comment KeALOHA 🙂

  62. Meg on September 13, 2020 at 1:13 am

    Ulu fruit is also toxic and will make you sick when eaten raw and unripe..

  63. Tyler on September 13, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Quick tip, a lot of what you see is elephant ear, not kalo (taro). They look similar, but they’re not, so don’t randomly pull the root out and steam it. Elephant ear leaves are poisonous even if you cook them. Always ask the brown people before you eat the vegetation. Rules of general survival don’t apply in Hawaii.

  64. Kaleo Puaa on September 14, 2020 at 10:49 am

    KUMAR SATYAM – People eat it because it’s really really good and good for you. Arguably the best part of laulau to some. Every part of the Kalo (Taro) plant was and is an important part of Hawai`ian diet.

    It’s also common knowledge in Hawai`i that you need to cook all parts of the plant throughly before eating. Typically we only hear of someone getting itchy throat but that’s because its some times not cooked long enough but never not cooked at all. You never hear about anything like this cause locals (Hawai`ian and non-Hawai`ian alike) are taught from small kid time to only eat it when cooked.

  65. Anne on September 15, 2020 at 6:14 am

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with kalo (the Hawaiian word for it) and I hope it doesn’t stop you from having it in probably prepared dishes. Lu’au Stew and fresh poi are two of my favorites. I’d never heard of it not being okay pregnant woman before, that is not a common belief among Hawaiians and if it is my husband is in a world of trouble because we ate a lot of it when I was pregnant. I did have issues with it once when I was preparing kalo to use in a dish called kulolo (a desert) and I wasn’t careful handling it. Got itchy hands as a result. And just for anyone reading this and looking at the “taro” growing in your yard or wild all over the place, while kalo can grow wild it’s not common to find it growing wild. What you’re pointing at is a closely related cousin to kalo often called Elephant Ear, the upright version is called ʻape by Hawaiians. You can differentiate kalo by looking for its piko (bellybutton).


  66. jackie on September 15, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Bula I’m from Fiji and we eat rourou(taro leaves) every other day and it’s my favorite but only cooked right, sometimes with water or coconut milk for 30ms or so and at home. I dont have the hands for it so my aunt cooks it. Sometimes if it’s not cooked well, you can have that itchy aftertaste. Which can be the worst for me. So imagine my surprise when I read your story and you had it blended!!!! woaaahhh you’re brave! But I know it wasnt intentional poor thing.

    My sister posted your blog on her facebook page and I couldnt stop laughing. My apologies and I am so sorry to see you go through this.

    But I agree that if your local supermarket is selling it, put up a sign – WARNING CAN NOT BE EATEN RAW..And maybe some recipes on how to cook it.

  67. Kaila Leilani on September 15, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Its always a good idea to take note of how indigenous people prepare it. I’m Native Hawai’ian/kanaka maoli and that’s something we learn as little keiki. Maybe a good idea to ask your Native Hawai’ian neighbors in the future about preparing local food items like this?

    Sorry you go sick thats never good to happen to anyone and glad you ended up okay. But just something to think about in the future.

  68. Mark on September 16, 2020 at 5:06 am

    I came across this story posted in a plant group I’m in on Facebook, and I’m glad I did.
    I bought a Taro root from the Harris Teeter supermarket near me a couple years ago and, not knowing what to do with it, I planted it.
    I never got around to trying to use it for food and it still grows in my garden, but I can only imagine the troubles I would have had if I had gone through with trying to use it without learning about it first!
    I’ve gotten burny mystery rashes on my arms several times working in that area, never knew the culprit, but now the Taro sounds likely.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  69. Daiana on September 16, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Damn, I’m glad you’re doing okay now. When it’s not cooked properly, taro leaves are itchy as hell so I’m really surprised you drank it raw. I’ve never heard of anyone here in the islands eating it raw because even when it’s cooked properly, we’re not big fans of it.

  70. Melaia on September 17, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Im gonna be honest. I had a good laugh about this but then I realized that growing up Fijian, raw or half cooked taro leaves (or rourou), are a big NO NO if you like your innards well and good is kind of common knowledge. But well cooked and in coconut milk, they are delish! Im so sorry you had to go through that. Ive had many horrible experiences with taro leaves too, only they were cooked (just not properly).

  71. Mark on September 17, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Common knowledge throughout the Pacific Islands. Bake for at least one hour @ 250°c. Or more normally 3 hours in the umu. Same goes for the root.

  72. Nancy Lebovitz on September 27, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Here’s one more: avoid butterfish/escolar/white tuna. Most people can eat a little, like 2 to 4 ounces. It’s got a great texture…. which is caused by a waxy fat which can lead to diarrhea if you eat more than a little of it.

  73. Maks on September 28, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    I took a bite out of a leaf because I thought it would be funny – I didn’t even know what kind of lead it was ?.
    I found this post after I got worried because of the excruciating burning sensation that I started to feel. Luckily, I didn’t swallow any of it!

  74. Megai on November 24, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Yep, just made this mistake. Luckily half cooked instead of raw. Thank you for the public service announcement and I wish I had googled first!!

  75. Zainab on January 18, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    Sorry that you guys had to go through such a pain, I am from Indian and i have always heard my grandma saying to be careful while cooking taro leaves as it can kill. The vein in the leaves should be removed from the leaves before cooking.
    Really appericate you for sharing the incident with us to be careful before you try new stuff.

  76. Mary on February 9, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Believe it or not, I ran into your post researching a vintage recipe.
    Cream of Luau Soup.. it sounded good but I needed to figure out what the heck it was, other than a Hawaiian party.
    Wow, I can not believe there was no warning considering they should have known being a “health” food store..
    You were both troopers ! but I don’t think I even want to try the soup.. I will stick to cream of broccoli 🙂

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on February 9, 2021 at 8:55 am

      Hi Mary – Thanks for stopping by! I am sure the soup is delicious. As long as taro is properly cooked it is fine to eat. Here at CFDG, we are partial to plant based creamy broccoli soup. ~Karen

  77. Christopher Laude on July 30, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    Lmao, rotf -but with you, not at you. I know full well to cook the leaves well, but…. well…

    I often cook taro leaves, sometimes like you would spinach, but for much longer. Tonight, I was making a more elaborate dinner, with risotto, and when I chopped up the taro leaves, there was a little piece on the cutting board that didn’t make it to the sauté pad.

    Ziggy stardust was playing, I was drinking red wine and dancing, and, well, I didn’t want that little scrap go to waste, so … I ate it… what was I thinking???

    This is the laughing part – omg, you are so much more manly than me! That one little scrap had me crying like the little boy I am! I don’t want to imagine what you and yours went through!

    Anyway, I love your writing style! We were close friends in another life. Keep up the good work!

  78. Nanah on August 9, 2021 at 3:44 am

    Can you eat taro raw?

  79. Rasa on October 31, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Bula. Thanks for the article. Such suffering is both horrifying and humorous to anyone with any experience of taro leaves. I have lived in Fiji for 19 years. Taro root, which is called dalo there, is a favorite, common and delicious food. It is usually boiled, deep fried into chips, baked in earth ovens or cut up and made into a curry. Boiled dalo is commonly hand dipped into a coconut milk and dalo leaf soup for meals. It’s very tasty. Sometimes the leaves are washed, spread out, layered and filled with fresh coconut milk then wrapped up, tied and baked next to the roots in the earth oven. It is called Paulsami. If the leaves are not cooked properly, they always cause my throat to itch uncomfortably. Why do i eat this stuff!? It takes a few minutes to know if it is going to cause distress but when done right, it’s excellent. i was told by one cook, that making the coconut milk without squeezing the coconut in water, as is often done, but just squeezing the milk from the grated coconut without the help of any water, is a way to combat the itchiness. Seems to have some validity. A companion of mine once ate some taro leaf which was boiled then pan fried as a patty and was poisoned enough to cause great alarm at the dinner table. If i remember right, we tried honey, lemon juice (Fijians use lemon juice) and straight coconut milk (no water added) as an antidote (which could explain the usual mixing of coconut milk with the leaves in cooking). Another thing locals advised me to use straight coconut milk for, was herbicide poisoning. One cat was exposed orally and not expected to live. I forced a teaspoon to tablespoon portion of coconut milk into her every hour. After 4 days the danger passed. She survived. I would say that taro leaf is the kind of dish one should eat just a taste of, before consuming any more, to see what the effects are. In Fiji they also socially drink a cold tea made from a toxic root called yangona or kava kava which numbs the tongue and makes the inbiber very relaxed and agreeable. The next day, however, enthusiasm for work is nowhere to be found and it is very easy to become angry quickly, over trifles. Another item of interest is the small, fresh, hot chili peppers found on most tables. Sometimes these small chilis can wind up in your mouth for a side dish of crunch or in food preps and the sensation is just unbearable. No need to call poison control. A tablespoon full of sugar is the immediate antidote. This can be done repeatedly until the burn is gone. Maybe two or three spoonfuls. Next time you eat food that is too spicy hot, skip the water, go for the sugar.

  80. Catherine on November 11, 2021 at 1:29 am

    So, like a newb, I decided to try some taro root today that I’d bought at an Asian market. Of course, there were no signs near the display or stickers on the roots themselves warning of their toxicity. I only bought a small piece about four inches long, and it had been dipped in wax, so I didn’t experience any hand itching as I peeled it. Not knowing what it tasted like, I popped a few chunks in my mouth as I sliced it up. It took a while, but the “I just ate too much pineapple” sensation began. Not knowing what to do to help it, I did a quick search and found several articles warning how toxic it was, so I though I should try to throw it up to help stop the effects. Fortunately, I was unable to do so, given the description above about what a bad idea that is. I noticed someone suggested licorice in a previous comment, and I happened to have some licorice root tea, so I tried that. It helped marginally, but the thing that has helped the most was popping open a can of coconut milk and sipping it. It does seem to help the irritation. It seriously should be an FDA ruling or some such that taro be labeled properly!

  81. Rasami on June 24, 2022 at 9:34 am

    I’m so glad I found your article, this is very helpful! Was thinking about growing some taro plants in my backyard and your headline totally caught my attention XD

  82. Amol Dhumal on July 20, 2022 at 10:14 am

    Great blog. Very well written.
    I am from India and taro leves are my favorite😅. I didn’t know they are poisonous. Yesterday i was eating food which includes taro leaves but first time in my life i felt uncomfortable while eating taro leaves. My throat was itching. Felt like something is stuck in my throat and its burning. So i searched on the internet and i came across your blog.

    • Rubeth on January 18, 2023 at 3:58 am

      Taro is indeed a dangerous plant. Especially if it grows wild on land that has never been cared for properly. However, if used and cooked properly, taro tubers (roots) can be very delicious to consume. In our country taro tubers are usually used as healthy food and are often processed into delicious spices or drinks. For taro leaves themselves can also be used as a good substitute for tobacco because it does not contain nicotine at all. Maybe some of you have never known it. But believe me taro tubers are delicious if cooked properly.

  83. Oy on January 9, 2023 at 12:54 am

    Same thing happened to me today but not as much as yours. It was my first encounter with taro leaves so I have no idea about it’s toxicity. Mine was cooked but I think it was not cooked enough. I bit a small portion just cuz I wanted to know what it tastes and it tasted okay then I swallowed it, then it started to hit me. Lips were numb, throat so painful feels like you’re swallowing needles and thorns, and after an hour I felt heartburn everytime I swallow anything saliva included. Thank you for this. This blog is very informative and I found this after searching about how to get rid of those irritations. Keep safe everyone.

  84. Raffi on July 25, 2023 at 8:14 am

    wow:) you are right:) in our culture ( Bangladesh) people who lie they can’t eat taro leaves in last 24 hours because it will be itchy like F… but if you are honest it doesn’t. its true! please try it!

  85. Tadashi on November 26, 2023 at 2:39 am

    Just shows that even if you live somewhere for decades, you will still never truly know the culture of any place. Especially in Hawaii or Asia unless you ask a reputable local that was born and raised there. I say reputable as of course there are local born morons as well. Any born and raised in Honolulu of Japanese American decent and yep NO ONE from Hawaii would ever eat taro (any part of the Taro plant for that matter) raw. And 45 minutes for leaves is way too short, more like 2-4 hours like collard greens or spinach, you gotta cook it till it break down to a mush. This is why they use taro leaves in Kalua pork etc. Its roasted for hours some times overnight. Well glad you came out of it ok and no offense, but next time ask a local 1st or couple of em. ; )

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 27, 2023 at 9:07 am

      Tadashi, thanks for taking the time to comment. It was a lesson learned, that’s for sure. 😂

  86. Ka'ipolani on May 17, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    Im sorry you went throught this experience, If you had properly done your research before trying something new, this wouldn’t have happened. If cooked properly it is something that can be very enjoyable!

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