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Henbane Black

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  • Botanical: Hyoscyamus niger
  • Family: Solanaceae
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Henbane Black

Botanical

Hyoscyamus niger

Family

Solanaceae

Known as

Common Henbane. Hyoscyamus. Hog's-bean. Jupiter's-bean. Symphonica. Cassilata. Cassilago. Deus Caballinus. (Anglo-Saxon) Henbell. (French) Jusquiame.

Old Use

medical

Parts Used

flowers, leaves, seed

Medicinal

bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs, cramps, cramps stomach, epilepsy, gallstones, kidney stones, respiratory, rheumatism, stomach pain, sore throat, toothache

Infection & Inflammation

fever, throat infections, throat inflammation, toothache

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, joint inflammation, joint pain, rheumatism

Mind & Nerves

epilepsy, fatigue (exhaustion), nervousness, stress relief

Respiratory System

bronchitis, catarrh, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, throat infections

Stomach & Intestinal

cancer, diarrhea, digestion, liver weakness, indigestion, kidney stones, stomach pain

Properties

anti inflammatory, diuretic, fungicide, narcotic, sedative

Description

The annual and biennial form spring indifferently from the same crop of seed, the former growing during summer to a height of from 1 to 2 feet, and flowering and perfecting seed, the latter producing the first season only a tuft of radical leaves, which disappear in winter, leaving underground a thick, fleshy root, from the crown of which arises in spring a branched, flowering stem, usually much taller and more vigorous than the flowering stems of the annual plants. The annual form is apparently produced by the weaker and later developed seeds formed in the fruit at the ends of the shoots; it is considered to be less active than the typical species and differs in being of dwarfed growth and having rather paler flowers. The British drug of commerce consists of dense flowering shoots only, and of larger size.

Properties & Uses

Henbane has a very long history of use as a medicinal herb, and has been widely cultivated to meet the demand for its use. It is used extensively as a sedative and pain killer and is specifically used for pain affecting the urinary tract, especially when due to kidney stones. Its sedative and antispasmodic effect makes it a valuable treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, relieving tremor and rigidity during the early stages of the disease. This species is the form generally considered best for external use, whilst the white henbane (H. albus) is considered the most appropriate for internal use. All parts of the plant, but especially the leaves and the seeds, can be used - they are anodyne, antispasmodic, mildly diuretic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative. The plant is used internally in the treatment of asthma, whooping cough, motion sickness, Meniere's syndrome, tremor in senility or paralysis and as a pre-operative medication. Henbane reduces mucous secretions, as well as saliva and other digestive juices. Externally, it is used as an oil to relieve painful conditions such as neuralgia, dental and rheumatic pains.The leaves should be harvested when the plant is in full flower and they can then be dried for later use. There is an annual and a biennial form of this species, both can be used medicinally but the biennial form is considered to be superior. This is a very poisonous plant that should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The seed is used in the treatment of asthma, cough, epilepsy, myalgia and toothache. The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have a bitter, acrid taste with a neutral and poisonous potency. Anthelmintic, antitumor and febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of stomach/intestinal pain due to worm infestation, toothache, inflammation of the pulmonary region and tumours.

Other Uses

The leaves scattered about a house will drive away mice

Cautions

All parts of the plant are very toxic. Symptoms of poisoning include impaired vision, convulsions, coma and death from heart or respiratory failure

Distribution

It is found throughout Central and Southern Europe and in Western Asia, extending to India and Siberia. As a weed of cultivation it now grows also in North America and Brazil. It had become naturalized in North America prior to 1672, as we find it mentioned in a work published in that year among the plants 'sprung up since the English planted and kept cattle in New England.

Constituents

The chief constituent of Henbane leaves is the alkaloid Hyoscyamine, together with smaller quantities of Atropine and Hyoscine, also known as Scopolamine. The proportion of alkaloid in the British Pharmacopoeia dried drug varies from 0.045 to 0.14 per cent. Higher yields are exceptional. The amount of Hyoscyamine is many times greater than that of Hyoscine. Other constituents of Henbane are a glucosidal bitter principle called hyoscytricin, choline, mucilage, albumin, calcium oxalate and potassium nitrate. On incineration, the leaves yield about 12 per cent of ash. By destructive distillation, the leaves yield a very poisonous empyreumatic oil. The chief constituent of the seeds is about 0.5 to 0.6 per cent of alkaloid, consisting of Hyoscyamine, with a small proportion of Hyoscine. The seeds also contain about 20 per cent of fixed oil.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.