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Belladonna Atropa

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  • Botanical: Atropa belladonna
  • Family: Solanaceae
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Belladonna Atropa

Botanical

Atropa belladonna

Family

Solanaceae

Known as

Atropa belladonna, Belladonna, Devil's Berries, Death Cherries, Deadly Nightshade, Tollkirsche

Old Use

medicinal

Parts Used

fruit, leaves, roots

Medicinal

asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, colds, coughs, cramps, fever, flu, hay fever, headache, menopausal symptom, morning sickness, neuralgia, pain relief, pre-mestrual, sweaty feet, ulcers, hay fever

Hormone & Sexual Organs

cramps, menstrual cramps, morning sickness

Infection & Inflammation

flu

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, back pain, joint pain, knee pain, lower back pain (lumbago), muscle pain, rheumatism, spasm

Mind & Nerves

fatigue (exhaustion), loss of appetite, pain relief, sciatica

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, hay fever, pertussis, whooping cough

Skin & Hair

eczema

Properties

analgesic, anesthetic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant

Description

The root is thick, fleshy and whitish, about 6 inches long, or more, and branching. It is perennial. The purplishcoloured stem is annual and herbaceous. It is stout, 2 to 4 feet high, undivided at the base, but dividing a little above the ground into three - more rarely two or four branches, each of which again branches freely.

The leaves are dull, darkish green in colour and of unequal size, 3 to 10 inches long, the lower leaves solitary, the upper ones in pairs alternately from opposite sides of the stem, one leaf of each pair much larger than the other, oval in shape, acute at the apex, entire and attenuated into short petioles. 

First-year plants grow only about 1 1/2 feet in height. Their leaves are often larger than in full-grown plants and grow on the stem immediately above the ground. Older plants attain a height of 3 to 5 feet, occasionally even 6 feet, the leaves growing about 1 to 2 feet from the ground. 

The whole plant is glabrous, or nearly so, though soft, downy hairs may occur on the young stems and the leaves when quite young. The veins of the leaves are prominent on the under surface, especially the midrib, which is depressed on the upper surface of the leaf. 

The fresh plant, when crushed, exhales a disagreeable odour, almost disappearing on drying, and the leaves have a bitter taste, when both fresh and dry. 

The flowers, which appear in June and July, singly, in the axils of the leaves, and continue blooming until early September, are of a dark and dingy purplish colour, tinged with green, large (about an inch long), pendent, bell-shaped, furrowed, the corolla with five large teeth or lobes, slightly reflexed. The five-cleft calyx spreads round the base of the smooth berry, which ripens in September, when it acquires a shining black colour and is in size like a small cherry. It contains several seeds. The berries are full of a dark, inky juice, and are intensely sweet, and their attraction to children on that account, has from their poisonous properties, been attended with fatal results.

Properties & Uses

belladonna is used as a sedative, to stop bronchial spasms in asthma and whooping cough, and as a cold and hay fever remedy. It is also used for Parkinson's disease, colic, motion sickness, and as a painkiller.

Belladonna is used in ointments that are applied to the skin for joint pain (rheumatism), leg pain caused by a disc in the backbone pushing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia). Belladonna is also used in plasters (medicine-filled gauze applied to the skin) for treating psychiatric disorders, a behavior disorder called hyperkinesis, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), and bronchial asthma.

Rectally, belladonna is used in hemorrhoid suppositories.

Cautions

Belladonna is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It contains chemicals that can be toxic.

Side effects can include dry mouth, enlarged pupils, blurred vision, red dry skin, fever, fast heartbeat, inability to urinate or sweat, hallucinations, spasms, mental problems, convulsions, and coma.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Belladonna is UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Belladonna contains potentially toxic chemicals and has been linked to reports of serious side effects. Belladonna is also UNSAFE during breast-feeding. It can reduce milk production and also passes into breast milk.

Congestive heart failure (CHF): Belladonna might cause rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and might make CHF worse.

Constipation: Belladonna might make constipation worse.

Down syndrome: People with Down syndrome might be extra-sensitive to the potentially toxic chemicals in belladonna and their harmful effects.

Esophageal reflux: Belladonna might make esophageal reflux worse.

Fever: Belladonna might increase the risk of overheating in people with fever.

Stomach ulcers: Belladonna might make stomach ulcers worse.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract infections: Belladonna might slow emptying of the intestine, causing retention of bacteria and viruses that can cause infection.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract blockage: Belladonna might make obstructive GI tract diseases (including atony, paralytic ileus, and stenosis) worse.

Hiatal hernia: Belladonna might make hiatal hernia worse.

Narrow-angle glaucoma: Belladonna might make narrow-angle glaucoma worse.

Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia): Belladonna might make rapid heartbeat worse.

Ulcerative colitis: Belladonna might promote complications of ulcerative colitis.

Difficulty urinating (urinary retention): Belladonna might make this urinary retention worse.

Distribution

Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia.

Constituents

Atropine, hyoscyamine, scopolamine (all alkaloids)