Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
Atropa belladonna is the botanical name of the plant more commonly known as belladonna. Other common names for belladonna include atropa, deadly nightshade, death's herb, dwale, witch's berry.
The Atropa genus is a part of the Solanaceae, more commonly known as the nightshade or potato, family of plants. The Solanaceae family also includes brugmansia, capsicum, eggplant, henbane, jimsonweed, mandrake, petunia, potato, tobacco, tomato plants.
In older botanical classifications, the mandrake plant was considered a species belonging to the genus Atropa. It was given the name Atropa mandragora. More recent botanical classifications put mandrake in the genus Mandragora, under the name Mandragora officinarum.
Classification Of Atropa belladonna
Species: A. belladonna
Atropa belladonna is indigenous to Europe and Asia. It has since become established in other areas, and has been cultivated by human beings in many parts of the globe for centuries.
Over the past several thousand years belladonna has been utilized for many purposes. Most notably its medicinal properties, of which there are many, and also its mind altering effects.
Chemistry Of Atropa belladonna
The major chemical components of belladonna are:
Hyoscyamine and atropine are the primary active constituents of Atropa belladonna. In living plants hyoscyamine predominates. During drying and storage hyoscyamine is converted to atropine.
Apoatropine is the secondary alkaloid. Scopolamine and many other tropane alkaloids are present, in lesser quantities.
Percentage of tropane alkaloids, including hyoscyamine, atropine, apoatropine, scopolamine:
Stalk: up to 0.9%.
Seeds: about 0.4%.
Dried root: 0.3% to 1.2%.
Unripe berries: up to 0.8%.
Ripe berries: 0.1% to 9.6%.
Dried leaves: 0.2% to 2.0%. (reference 1)
Belladonna can be fatal to people and most animals. The same size dose needed to kill a person or animal may have very little effect upon some birds and herbivorous animals, like thrushes and rabbits.
Children are sometimes poisoned by Atropa belladonna. This most often happens when the naive and innocent little ones mistake ripe belladonna berries for similar looking edibles, like blueberries.
First Aid for accidental ingestion or belladonna overdose:
--- Gastric lavage (empty contents of stomach).
--- Administration of physostigmine or pilocarpine.
Medical Use Of Atropa belladonna
In modern times there are few medical preparations made with belladonna. However, tropane alkaloids like atropine and scopolamine can be extracted from belladonna.
Tropane alkaloids are utilized in various modern medications for the treatment of various conditions including:
--- pink eye
--- spastic colon
--- stomach ulcers
--- motion sickness
--- Parkinson's disease
--- irritable bowel syndrome
--- excessive nighttime urination (reference 2)
In earlier times belladonna had a multitude of medical applications. It was included in the preparation of medicines to treat various conditions including:
--- to ease pain
--- to treat neuralgia
--- to treat infant colic
--- to treat rheumatism
--- treatment for gout
--- treatment for sciatica
--- treatment for epilepsy
--- treatment for jaundice
--- treatment for scarlet fever
--- treatment for skin diseases
--- treatment for kidney diseases
--- treatment for bladder diseases
--- treatment for whooping cough
--- treatment for nervous ailments
--- treatment for urinary tract problems
--- treatment for various mental illnesses
--- treatment for respiratory tract problems
--- to dilate the pupil prior to being operated on
--- to relieve photophobia (abnormal sensitivity to light)
Availability Of Atropa belladonna
Depending on where you live, belladonna might be available with a prescription or over-the-counter in places like pharmacies, health food stores, other businesses that stock similar products.
Atropa belladonna can still be found in a few homeopathic preparations like creams, ointments, pills, plasters, tinctures, for the relief of colds, cough, fever, flu, gout, infant colic, inflammation, various types of pain, other assorted maladies.
If you are interested in cultivating your own plants for medicine, you might be able to find live Atropa belladonna plants for sale, as well as Atropa belladonna seeds, at a local nursery.
Seeds for growing plants, as well as other belladonna related items, can also occasionally be found at amazon or ebay. Richters has Atropa belladonna plants and seeds, they can be found here.
To preserve the potency of the medicinal ingredients, when drying after harvest do so in an area that is well ventilated and dark as possible. Store dry belladonna in a cool and dark environment within an air-tight container, like sealable ziplok plastic bags.
Harvested belladonna plant material is not generally sold for human consumption in most parts of the world, because of its toxicity. However, Atropa belladonna is sometimes available in its dried form for purposes like casting spells.
Atropa belladonna Dose Size
Belladonna has been consumed for magical, medical, mystical, psychoactive, or other purposes, for many centuries. Prior to ingestion, take into consideration that it can be fatal especially at larger dose levels, see this.
For internal consumption dried belladonna leaves are often used. Less often the ripe berries, fresh or dried, are consumed. Other parts of the plant contain lower concentrations of alkaloids but can be employed also.
At small-medium doses belladonna can be sedating but most people will find it slightly stimulating, and may feel clear headed with the urge to speak or move around. There are, not infrequently, feelings of an erotic nature.
Smoking Atropa belladonna: In times past, people who partook of belladonna for its psychoactive attributes were sometimes initiated by smoking parts of the plant, like dried leaves or root, with a pipe.
Smoking was considered a relatively safe method of ingestion, and the mildest way for a novice to be introduced to this medicine. Intake was limited to a small amount, 1/10 to 1/4 gram, and discontinued if the initiate felt any unpleasantness.
Effects of smoking small amounts were described as pleasant by some practitioners. 1/10 gram dry plant material can be put into a capsule and taken by mouth. The amount can be increased on further attempts.
Atropa belladonna Tea: Another old method of ingestion was preparing belladonna into an herbal tea. Belladonna tea was sometimes concocted by mixing dried leaves or root with hot water.
The mixture was allowed to steep for a time, being stirred occasionally. When ready, the plant material was filtered out and the resulting tea was imbibed, sometimes with a touch of sugar or honey to sweeten it.
Making tea with about 1/10 of a gram of belladonna was usually tested the first time. On subsequent attempts the potency of the tea was increased in intervals of 1/10 gram or a little more, until a comfortable level was found.
Ripe Belladonna Berries: When a sacred practitioner had reached a point in their path where that they felt a need to delve further than smoking and herbal tea could take them, eating fresh or dried ripe berries was attempted.
They would first try one ripe belladonna berry, on the night of a full moon, in order to appraise the results. Only one ripe berry was ingested to limit the chance of a negative experience.
If there was no adverse reaction, they waited for a minimum of the time it took for a new full moon to appear. On the eve of the new full moon they tried eating one more berry than they did the previous time.
This practice was continued, until an optimal dose size was discovered. The prevailing wisdom held that it was safest to never consume more than 10 ripe berries at one time.
For most practitioners, eating one or two of the fresh or dried ripe berries caused perceptual and cerebral changes, things looked and felt different but they could still function.
Operating an ox cart, rickshaw, camel, donkey, horse, mule, moose, reindeer, yak, or any other activity that required good eyesight/judgement was strongly discouraged by the elders, for obvious reasons.
Eating three or four of the berries was said to give most souls a feeling of being intoxicated. Five to ten berries usually caused hallucinations.
Belladonna hallucinations have almost always described as negative. Most reported them as being demonic, evil, threatening, terrifying, or something of this nature.
Some adults have reported eating up to ten or more of the ripe berries and living, but children have died from eating just two or three. Ten to twenty will kill most adults.
When smoked, effects can be felt shortly after inhalation and can last up to a few hours. Consuming via other methods, the effects can start to be felt after 15 minutes or longer, and can start to peak at 60-120 minutes.
The main peak effects after consuming a psychoactive amount of belladonna can last three to six hours or longer, at small to medium size dose levels.
With larger doses, peak effects can be felt for 24-72 hours, visual disruption can last 3 days or more, disturbing and negative thoughts may continue for weeks.
Small doses can be pleasant and produce a state of clear headedness and well being. Taking larger doses of belladonna can be so unpleasant that it should be contemplated only with circumspect.
Few if any who consume belladonna in large doses, without a good reason for doing so, will repeat the ordeal. Positive reports of good experiences, after taking a large dose recreationally, are almost impossible to come by.
In large doses belladonna has aided chosen individuals, who were summoned, to journey to realms of hell that could not be easily accessed during normal periods of consciousness.
Remember and take into account that belladonna overdoses can be fatal. Death is quiet, and occurs from central respiratory arrest, while in a coma.
If you feel the calling to pursue a relationship with the Atropa belladonna plant, particularly when taking larger doses, do so with extreme caution.
The potency will vary from plant to plant and in different parts of the same plant. Do not assume that because you ingested a certain amount from a specific part of a belladonna plant that the same amount from the same part of another plant will produce the same results.
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
Reference work about almost every common, and most less common plants and fungi, that humans have used to alter perception, mood, or consciousness. Includes history, distribution, cultivation, preparation, dosage.
Over 900 pages of easy to understand text with hundreds of full color photographs and b&w illustrations. This is the most thorough psychoactive plant encyclopedia available at the present time. Contains 6 pages about Atropa belladonna with several color and b&w images.
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
THC & Tropacocaine
Part of this out of print book contains information about synthesizing tropacocaine from the atropine found in dried belladonna, or other plants that contain worthwhile quantities.
The actual synthesis would only be practical for someone with a degree in organic chemistry. Tropacocaine produces similar effects to cocaine, but it is not as potent.
THC & Tropacocaine
reference 1 - encyclopedia of psychoactive plants
reference 2 - healthline.com
Erowid belladonna vault.
MedlinePlus belladonna safety concerns.
NeuroSoup list of chemicals in belladonna.
Brief overview of tropacocaine from belladonna plants.