Datura stramonium medical uses and side effects (thorn apple)

Datura is a type of herbaceous perennial plant that is mostly seen in the tropical and temperate regions in the world. The different species of Datura or thorn apple are considered to be poisonous to humans. However, some of them can act as aphrodisiac as well. The flowers and seeds are more poisonous than rest of the parts. At times, the plant is referred as witches’ weeds as well because of its deadly properties belonging to the nightshade family. In this article we will talk about Datura stramonium medicinal uses and side effects.

Datura stramonium medicinal uses, benefits and side effects

In Ayurvedic literature, Dhatura has been considered as a medication. It is also used in prayers for the purpose of conducting rituals. Though the plant is considered to be poisonous, Datura has been a part of the spiritual purposes by holy men and Ayurvedic physicians. It is also used in modern medication these days.

All the different parts of Datura Stramonium contain significant amount of poison like scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and alkaloids atropine, which are known to be anticholinergics and deliriants. Datura must be taken by any individual only after prior consultation with an able practitioner who will be able to make a distinction between the toxic and medical dose.

Common Name

Datura Stramonium goes by several names like datura seeds, dhatura tatula, thorn apple stramonium, mad apple, stink weed, and jimson weed. It is also called by other common names like devil’s cucumber, pricklyburr, locoweed, tolguacha, devil’s weed, devil’s trumpet, hell’s bell, and devil’s snare.

Some of the international common names of Datura are:

  • Portuguese: estramanonio, quinquilho
  • Arabic: tatoora, datoora
  • French: belladone, concombrea chein
  • Spanish: chamicogrande, chamisco
  • English: mad-apple, stinkwort

Botanical Name and Family of Datura

The botanical or scientific name of Datura is Datura Stramonium. It belongs to the family of Solanaceae which is only of the deadliest from the Nightshade family.

thorn apple leaf fruit and flower

Geographical Locations where Datura Stramonium plant grows

The origin of this species is considered to be tropical regions of South and Central America. It is known as a cosmopolitan weed in the Southern, Central, and Northern parts of America, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In the USA, it can be seen almost everywhere expect Northern and North-Western Great Plains. It is found in the deserts of east Texas, northern part of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and southern California. Datura Stramonium has also been found to be cultivated in Ontario and Quebec in the late 1800s. In the early 19th century, it was also found in Australia.

In most parts of India, this plant can be seen growing as wasteland weed. Later, its cultivation in the form of alkaloids began in the Europe and India. In India, it is found in the Himalayan region which includes states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Datura Stramonium Medicinal Uses

Though Datura is considered to be deadly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lately has been able to recognize its medicinal qualities as it contains compounds like atropine and scopolamine.

Some of the medicinal benefits of the drugs made from Datura are:

  • It is prepared to create a flying ointment which was believed to be used by medieval witches in Europe which would let them fly. It is quite a complex drug made from other plants like wolfs-bane, hemlock, henbane, and other species from the nightshade species. This ointment or medication can be used for applying to the armpits, vagina, and feet soles.
  • Ayahuasca brew were used for making brew by shamans. Only a few leaves are sufficient for about 30 to 40 people.
  • Smoking cannabis and blends of Datura togethercan be an alternative to cigarettes which is known to not be as ruthless along with the ability to burn easily.
  • Datura served the purpose of healing respiratory problems by the British soldiers. Atropine and scopolamine both can be used as sedatives. It is also useful in case of dizziness, nausea, and motion sickness.
  • In the Ayurvedic literature, Datura was used for problems related to asthma. Jimson weed’s leaves were used for smoking as cigarettes or in a pipe.
  • Datura Stramonium was once also used as an analgesic for the purpose of bone setting whereas the Chinese preferred using it as anesthesia at the time of surgery.

Benefits of Datura Stramonium seeds and leaves are mentioned below:

  • The oil extracted from Datura seeds can be used for treating baldness and stimulating the growth of hair.
  • Dhatura leaves contain atropine and hyoscyamine which is used as a mind altering drug useful for mental disorders.
  • The jimson seeds can be used for the treatment of abscesses and fistulas.
  • The Datura leaves and seeds can be used as narcotic, hypnotic, antispasmodic, and anti-asthmatic.
  • Jimson weed is also known for treating spasm of bronchitis that is known to occur in asthma.
  • Dhatura is used as an herbal medication as mentioned in Ayurveda for treating bone setting and asthma.
  • Datura leaves are quite useful against pain symptoms. The leaves are roasted and applied in the area that is causing pain.
  • If Datura leaves are applied as poultice, it can help in overcoming boils.
  • Dhatura leaves are also quite useful in aids ear ache.
  • For treating heart problems like hypertension and palpitations, thorn apple leaves can be used.
  • The ethanol extract collected from Datura leaves can be used against mosquito and larva in the form of a repellent.
  • The ethanol extract is also useful for having oviposition deterrent, repellent, and acaricidal properties which work against mites.
  • The smoke coming out of burning thorn apple leaves can be quite useful for treating bronchitis and asthma.
  • The vapour out of Datura Stramonium leaves infusion can be quite useful for relieving arthritis like gout and rheumatism.
  • Dhatura leaves are quite useful for relieving headaches.

Datura Stramonium Side effects

Though Datura Stramonium is considered to be poisonous, it can have quite many uses as well. But, it should be taken in moderation after proper consultation with physicians having sufficient expertise. If the doses are higher than expected, it can bring about dangerous side effects as well.

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