Belladonna is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 5 feet in height. The roots are the most toxic with the leaves following close behind. It has toxins atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine. It causes hallucinations and delirium. When used for medical purposes, they are used as anticholinergic agents. It is named Belladonna, meaning beautiful woman, because it is used to make the pupils dilate making the woman appear seductive.
Belladonna (Deadly nightshade) – Information about the plant
Common names include Deadly nightshade, naughty man’s cherries, devil’s herb, beautiful death, and death cherries.
Botanical name or family
The botanical name is Atropa belladonna. It belongs to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. Other members in this nightshade family are potato, tomato, chili peppers, eggplants, and tobacco.
Geographical places where Atropa belladonna plant grows
It grows natively in temperate regions of South and Central Europe. Deadly nightshade is also grown in Southern Sweden and Britain. It is naturalized in North America where it grows in shady, moist, limestone-rich soils.
Deadly nightshade medicinal uses
It has a long history of use as a poison, cosmetic, and medicine. The chemicals atropine and scopolamine have medicinal value. Both have almost the same use. Belladonna is used in the form of tinctures, powders, and decoctions. It is also used as alkaloid salt mixtures.
Relaxes muscle spasms: Patients are given atropine to relax muscle spasms.
Antidote for insecticide poisoning: If one develops rashes while gardening, then one can use belladonna tincture or paste to get rid of the symptoms.
Induces sleep: Occasionally, people have used belladonna to induce sleep. However, due to their intense hallucinatory effects, people stopped using it.
Used to treat sciatica: The leg pain caused by the disc in the backbone pushing against the nerve can be treated with Deadly nightshade.
Cures motion sickness: Scopolamine in the belladonna plant is useful for treating motion sickness.
Treat irritable bowel syndrome: Derivatives of Deadly nightshade in combination with other medicines are used for treating many conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Get relief for Parkinson’s disease: When people with Parkinson’s disease have an unstable response to medical treatment, deep brain stimulation is needed. Often the use of alternative therapy such as the use of belladonna helps the patient to an extent.
Alleviates symptoms of diverticulitis: When pounces form in the walls of the intestine, it creates problems. Sometimes, these pockets develop inflammation and cause severe pain. Use of belladonna is recommended to get relief from the pain and the inflammation.
Can cure stomach ulcers: When painful sores form in the walls of your stomach, it leads to vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, bloating, and heartburn among many other things. Use belladonna to get relief and cure the ulcers.
Cures pink eye: Pink eye is otherwise known as conjunctivitis. It is a bacterial infection that turns the person’s eye red. It might cause burning and eye discharge. You can use a poultice made of Deadly nightshade to get relief. Be sure not to touch the leaves directly and use a suitable masking agent like hibiscus leaves.
Get relief from excessive night time urination: For people who have the constant urge to go to the bathroom at night, the use of belladonna will help to relieve the symptoms. Have the decoction before going to bed, and you will be cured of the symptoms in a few days.
Used to treat a common cold: People use the preparations made from belladonna to treat the common cold. This is because it opens the airways and removes the phlegm accumulated there.
Cure for flu: Mild cases of flu can be treated with an application of belladonna paste. You must add other soothing agents to offset the irritation caused by belladonna leaves.
Treats fevers: It has an antipyretic nature. You can get relief from fevers using the preparations made with belladonna plant.
Relief from a sore throat: You get relief from a sore throat when you have a diluted decoction of belladonna. The danger of overdose is always present, so only use the medicines given by a registered and experienced doctor.
Relieves inflammation: Used in the form of an ointment, Belladonna shows beneficial effect for relieving inflammation of all types.
Alleviates joint and back pain: Belladonna is used in the form of ointments to treat joint and back pain.
Good for gout: Gout is the inflammation of the joints due to degeneration of the connective tissues and drying of the fluid in the joints. Deadly nightshade helps ease the inflammation and thereby reduces the pain.
Cure for an earache: It is used as a home remedy for earaches. The person who has an earache is given the decoction twice a day for two days. This will help to rid an earache.
Used as a pain reliever: The most effective use of belladonna is as a pain reliever. You can use it for relieving a variety of pains including muscular pain, pain due to inflammation, pain due to insect bites, and pain due to allergies.
Helps relieve the symptoms of GI complaints: The alkaloids of the belladonna plant are used along with pectin and kaolin. Usually, phenobarbital is used, and then, the pectin might be added.
Augments the action of other medications: When used alongside opioid analgesics, the derivatives of belladonna enhance the effect of anxiolytic and analgesic effects. You get more relief, and the medicine acts faster.
Used for eye examinations: Atropine sulphate is used as a muscarinic agent for enhancing the treatment of the eyes. It helps to dilate the eyes, and thus the doctor can examine the eye in more detail.
Treat bronchitis: Hyoscyamine is one of the non-prescription treatments given to those who suffer from bronchitis. However, this is now discontinued.
Antidote for poisoning: This is in the case of organophosphate poisoning. It is also used for carbamate poisoning. For nerve gas attacks, it finds use as an auto-injector.
Diarrhea and visceral pain: A combination of opium and belladonna is used to treat diarrhea and visceral pain. By removing the bacteria in the guts, this medication will cure the person of all sorts of pain.
Used as a tincture: Opium tincture is poured over cigarettes made with belladonna leaves and used as a medicine. This tincture is used for treating a variety of ailments including burns, rashes, and skin infections.
The antidote for belladonna poisoning is pilocarpine or physostigmine. Small children are known to have survived after eating 20-30 berries. But, usually eating one leaf or 3-4 berries can prove fatal for adults. It is not used cosmetically anymore since it causes visual distortions, increases heart rate, and makes the person unable to focus on near objects.