Hyoscyamus niger (Solanaceae)
HENBANE, HOG'S BEAN, CASSILATA
Leaves of the very poisonous
henbane plant are given by herbalists for asthma, colic, and travel
sickness. Homeopaths use Hyoscyamus for sensitive skin, coughs, and
excited or obsessional behaviour.
A centuries-old medicine, henbane was also a famous poison: Shakespeare had Hamlet's
father die from henbane juice poured into his ear. Its medicinal uses ranged from a
painkiller to a headlice killer and all parts of the plant were used, in the form of a
cigarette, dried herb, or juice. Native to Europe but naturalized in the Americas and
Australasia, it is an annual or biennial related to the tomato and potato. It has
long, oval, hairy, sticky leaves and brown or yellow flowers with purple veins in summer.
Leaves, particularly from the flowering plant.
Tropane alkaloids, particularly
hyoscyamine and hyoscine.
Reduces muscle tension and spasm; sedative; blocks cholinergic nervous system.
Used to relieve bronchial spasm or asthma, colic or excessive use of purgatives,
and to prevent travel sickness. The homeopathic remedy Hyoscyamus is prescribed for twitching,
coughs, sensitive skin, and excited or obsessional behavioural problems.
Herbal cigarettes, tincture, homeopathic remedies.
Use only under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.