Deadly Nightshade = Atropa belladonna – Schwarze Tollkirsche (Solanaceae)
- Belladonna, Poison black cherry.
- Dried or fresh leaves, root.
- Smooth muscle anti-spasmodic, Narcotic, Anticholinergic, Mydriatic, Hallucinogenic.
- Deadly Nightshade is one of the most valuable medicinal plants. Various preparations of this plant have been used both in orthodox and in herbal medicine. It had been used to treat intestinal and renal colic, as well as to relieve urinary spasms. It is the source of pupil of the eye (mydriatic). It is also used as an antidote to some poisons. Another constituent hyoscine is an ingredient in many sea sickness medicines. The plant also has smooth muscle relaxant properties which makes it useful in conventional medicine as an anaesthetic, particularly when digestive or bronchial secretions need to be kept to a minimum. The herb can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, reducing tremors and rigidity, and improves speech and mobility. Externally the plant extracts, in the form of liniments are used to relieve rheumatic conditions and gout. The plant has also been used in homeopathic medicine.
- All parts of this plant are exceedingly toxic. An excessive dose can cause severe poisoning and even death. Symptoms of poisoning include thirst, dryness of the mouth and throat, visual disturbances, weakening of the pulse, and convulsions. Death may occur as a result of heart failure. Fruits of this plant, to which children are often attracted have caused severe poisonings. Preparation of this plant may be hazardous in hot climatic conditions in the tropics. Atropine, even in low therapeutic dose, can block the action of the sweat glands, can suppress heat regulation and can cause death through over-heating and heat-stroke. There have been reported cases of death in children who were given only a few drops of 1% solution of atropine in the form of eye-drops. An excessive dose can cause hallucinations.
- Deadly Nightshade preparations or the pure alkaloids should not be taken during pregnancy, in cases of prostatic gland disease, paralytic ileus, glaucoma, and tachycardia, or by people under treatment with antidepressant drugs. As this plant is classified as a poison it should only be used under medical supervision.
- Not generally combined with other herbs.