Also known as Belladonna. A wild plant of a gloomy aspect. It grows five feet high; stalks angulated, dark green; leaves large, broad, and flat, of a dull dead green. The bell-shaped flowers stand thickly on long foot-stalks, rising from the bosom of the leaves; they are large, hollow, and hang down. Externally the colour is dusky between brown and green; and within of a deep purple. They are succeeded by berries about the size of cherries, violet black, glossy, sweet, and pleasant to the taste; hence they have been eaten by children ignorant of their very poisonous qualities, with fatal results.

In 1793, some orphans, at the Hospice de fa Pete, at Paris, were employed in weeding a botanical garden. They were attracted by the tempting looking fruit of a Belladonna plant, of which they ate a large quantity. Fourteen of them died a few hours afterwards in consequence. This lamentable catastrophe justifies the generic name Atropa, from one of the fates, who was supposed to cut the thread of life. Belladonna, signifies beautiful lady, because the Italian ladies used the distilled water of this plant as a cosmetic.

Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Nightshade (Belladonna):

It is a valuable medicine in proper hands. The leaves were first used externally to discuss scrofulous and cancerous tumours, and as an application to ill-conditioned ulcers. Some physicians began to employ them internally for the same disorders, on account of their external efficacy. This plant alleviates pain, nervous excitement, and spasm; it is useful in neuralgia, convulsive affections and rheumatism. The vapour of the decoction is sometimes inhaled to relieve asthma.

Belladonna is said to be efficacious in protecting against the infection of scarlet fever, when given in repeated small doses, during the prevalence of the disease, to those who are exposed to it. Eight grains of the extract are to be rubbed up with 1 fluid ounce of water, and from 5 to 20 drops, according to age, given twice a day. After all, its use ought to be in skilful hands. [NOTE: this article is reprinted from a herbalist's handbook written in the early 1800's. The advice given here should NOT be followed. Do not consume this plant. It can kill you!]

Important Disclaimer:   The information contained on this web site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Any information presented is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not take the place of any prescribed medication. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consultation with your physician.

This page and the rest of the encyclopedia of medicinal herbs was reproduced from old herbals written in the 1700 and 1800s. They are of historical interest to show the traditional uses of various herbs based on folk medicine and ancient wisdom. However the traditional uses for these herbs have not been confirmed by medical science and in some cases may actually be dangerous. Do not use the these herbs for any use, medicinal or otherwise, without first consulting a qualified doctor.

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