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Datura stramonium

Datura stramonium (Solanaceae)

JIMSON WEED, THORN APPLE, DEVIL'S APPLE, JAMESTOWN WEED

 

The leaves and seeds are dangerous for self-use, but are given by herbalists to relieve muscle spasm, for instance in asthma and Parkinson's disease.

 

The unpleasant effects that Datura produces if misused, such as double vision and hallucinations, led to its common name of devil's apple. Despite these effects, the herbalist Gerard recommended a salve made from the leaves for "all inflammations whatsoever". The origins of this widely naturalized plant are unclear but it is claimed to be a native of both western Asia and South America. It was introduced to Europe as a drug in the 16th century, and is a strong-smelling annual with large, soft, oval leaves. Funnel-shaped, bluish-white flowers appear in late summer and are followed by an egg-shaped capsule covered in spines, which opens into four segments containing the brown seeds.

 

PARTS USED

Leaves, seeds.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Tropane alkaloids, including hyoscamine, hyoscine, and atropine.

 

ACTIONS

Reduces muscle tension and spasm; relieves asthma; blocks a certain part of the nervous system (cholinergic) to prevent muscle contraction.

 

MEDICINAL. USE

Given for the relief of bronchial spasm in asthma and the muscle spasm associated with Parkinson's disease. It is used for similar purposes in Ayurvedic medicine.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, tincture, smoked leaf.

 

CAUTION

Poisonous, use only on the advice of a qualified practitioner.

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