The Dark History Of Belladonna

The Dark History Of Belladonna

Belladonna is a poisonous plant that has a dark past. Its scientific name is Atropa belladonna and historical events suggest its first usage in Italy.

The name “belladonna” means beautiful women and its usage was to enlarge pupils, for a charismatic and appealing look. The other name for this plant is deadly nightshade, which represents the dark secrets that come with it.

The dark berries of this plant are sometimes called murderer’s berries, sorcerer’s berries or even devil’s berries. The poison of this berry is thought to be the one that killed Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet.”

Is belladonna dangerous?

Although history represents it as an unapproachable plant, it is highly unlikely that it is not in your usage. Belladonna is used in many common medicines and it is also available in a supplement form. Do you know that when your doctor dilates your eyes, the medicine that he uses contains belladonna in it?

Knowing it arises a question, is belladonna safe for your health? Belladonna doesn’t grow in the USA. It is a native species of Europe and Asia. Its plant can grow as tall as 5 feet. The dark purple flowers look beautiful and its berries are rather sweet in taste.

The plant is so toxic that even a smaller quantity of it can cause death. It is extremely dangerous for children and elderly persons. a touch of its leaves can irritate human skin and may initiate a reaction in people with sensitive health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns belladonna as unsafe for human health through an oral route.

The medicinal benefit of belladonna

Even being a toxic plant, belladonna has medicinal benefits. Two of its chemicals called atropine and scopolamine have a role in relaxing muscles. Atropine works better than scopolamine on muscular spasms and heartbeat regulation.

During an eye exam, the eye drops that your doctors use actually have atropine in it. Lastly, it also has an antidote effect for insecticides, chemical warfare agents and others.

Scopolamine, on the other hand, has many sources, one of which is belladonna. The medical benefits of scopolamine include reducing body secretions i.e. stomach acid. It may also benefit from motion sickness during traveling.

In combination with Phenobarbital and some other drugs, any derivative of belladonna either atropine or scopolamine are helpful for treating a number of health problems such as;

  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • stomach ulcers
  • spastic colon
  • Diverticulitis
  • Parkinson’s disease

And some other less dangerous conditions like

  • pink eye
  • motion sickness
  • excessive nighttime urination

Is it available easily?

To your surprise, belladonna products are available over the counter. You can easily get them from your nearest pharmacy. There are so many well-reputed manufactures that prepare these medicines and drugs. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues a safety recall for using belladonna products.

Belladonna nutritional supplements are freely available at pharmacies and health stores. It is available in so many forms like tablets, tinctures, oils, ointments, and sprays.

These health supplements are thought to be helpful in

  • Common cold
  • Flu
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle pain
  • Ear pain
  • Body pains

The final word on belladonna

The question of belladonna’s safety has answered with your doctor. It is safe for you if your doctor has prescribed it. If you are using an over the counter product, make sure that you follow the right way to use it.

Also, note that a number of health supplements and homeopathic medicines are not tested or verified by the FDA. There is no as such answer on their efficacy.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is not sufficient evidence on belladonna’s effective effects. So always double check if you plan to use any of belladonna’s product without a prescription or recommendation from your doctor.



The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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