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Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)


Henbane Information

Hyoscyamus niger is the botanical name of the plant more commonly known as black henbane and stinking henbane. All plants in the Hyoscyamus genus are commonly referred to as henbane.

Hyoscyamus niger is a part of the Solanaceae, which is more commonly known as the nightshade or potato, family of plants.

The Solanaceae family also includes belladonna, brugmansia, capsicum, eggplant, jimsonweed, mandrake, petunia, potato, tobacco, tomato plants.

Classification
Chemistry
Medical Use
Availability
Ingesting
Books
References
Links


Hyoscyamus niger Classification Of Hyoscyamus niger
Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Hyoscyamus
Species: H. niger

Hyoscyamus niger is indigenous to Europe and Asia. It has since become established in most other parts of the globe. In some areas it is so prevalent that it is considered a noxious weed.

Over the past few thousand years henbane has been utilized for various things including medical purposes, for magic, its mind altering effects.

Image: Hyoscyamus niger
Published: 1887
Country: Germany
Illustrators: Walther Muller and C.F. Schmidt
From: Kohler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
Source: Plant Curator


Chemistry Of Hyoscyamus niger

The major chemical components of henbane are:
Hyoscyamine
Atropine
Scopolamine

Hyoscyamine, atropine, scopolamine are the primary active ingredients of Hyoscyamus niger. When the plant is harvested and dried, hyoscyamine is converted to atropine.

Trace amounts of aposcopolamine, cuscohygrine, littorine, norscopolamine, tigloidine, tropine and other tropane alkaloids are also present. (reference 1)

Percentage of tropane alkaloids including hyoscyamine, atropine, scopolamine:
Leaves: 0.03% to 0.28%. (reference 1)
Dried leaves: 0.04% to 0.17%. (reference 2)

The genus Hyoscyamus is comprised of, depending on the source, between 11-20 species. All species in the genus produce tropane alkaloids.

Henbane is not deadly to pigs but can be toxic to many other animals including birds, fish, grazing creatures. It can also be fatal to humans.

First Aid for accidental ingestion or henbane overdose:
--- Induce vomiting, empty stomach.
--- Supply sodium sulphate.
--- Supply medical charcoal.
--- Administer physostigmine. (reference 2)


Medical Use Of Hyoscyamus niger

Hyoscyamus niger has been included in the preparation of medicines to treat various conditions including:
--- to ease pain
--- to induce sleep
--- to treat neuralgia
--- treatment for asthma
--- treatment for toothaches
--- to treat nervous ailments
--- treatment for rheumatism
--- treatment for stomach pain
--- treatment for whooping cough


Availability Of Hyoscyamus niger

Depending on where you live, you might find henbane for sale either with a prescription or over-the-counter in places like pharmacies, health food stores, other businesses that stock similar products.

If you are interested in cultivating your own plants for medicine, you might be able to find live Hyoscyamus niger plants for sale, as well as Hyoscyamus niger seeds, at a local nursery.

Seeds for growing plants, as well as other henbane related items, can be found at amazon and ebay. Richters sells Hyoscyamus niger 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 henbane in a cool and dark environment within an air-tight container, like sealable ziplok plastic bags. This will help it last longer.

Harvested henbane plant material is not generally sold for human consumption in most parts of the world, because of its toxicity. However, it is sometimes available in its dried form for purposes like casting spells.


Hyoscyamus niger Dose Size

For thousands of years Hyoscyamus niger has been consumed for magical, medical, mystical, psychoactive, or other purposes. But at large dose levels henbane can be fatal, see this.

The primary active compounds in henbane are atropine, hyoscyamine, scopolamine. At small-medium doses most people will feel sedated and relaxed, but some may find it slightly stimulating at first.

For internal consumption dried henbane leaves are often consumed. The dose amounts stated below are based on dried leaves. Other parts of the plant can be employed also, but the alkaloid content can vary dramatically.

Smoking Hyoscyamus niger: Smoking dried henbane leaves is a common method of ingestion. It has been consumed in this way as an intoxicant and to treat things like asthma, insomnia, toothaches, as well as other types of pain.

Henbane seeds are rarely ingested as an intoxicant, but they are sometimes smoked as medicine to treat asthma, coughs, stomach pain, rheumatism.

When smoked as an intoxicant or for any other purpose, limit the amount to 1/4 gram or less of dry plant material on your first attempt. The amount can be increased by 1/4 gram or less on further attempts, until you find a dose size that you feel comfortable with..

Hyoscyamus niger Tea: Another method of ingestion is preparing henbane into an herbal tea. Henbane tea can be made by mixing dried leaves with hot water.

Allow the mixture to steep for a while, stirring occasionally. When ready, filtered out the plant material was and drink resulting tea.

Making tea with about 1/4 of a gram of henbane is a starting point, for a first try. On subsequent attempts the potency of the tea can be increased in intervals of 1/4 gram or less, until a comfortable level is found.

Hyoscyamus niger Beer: If you make your own beer, henbane can be added. People who like the effects of alcohol may enjoy the qualities that henbane adds to the resulting beverage.

Small to medium size doses of henbane can be sedating and relaxing. Increased awareness with a loss of ability to concentrate and experiencing warmth can be present.

Also the sensation of pressure on the head, a feeling of floating, dry mouth, dilated pupils, altered vision, are fairly common with conservative amounts.

Effects usually start to come on in about 20-45 minutes after ingestion and peak after about 60-120 minutes. Peak effects can last three to four hours after they begin.

As time goes by, you might find yourself getting more and more relaxed. When more time has elapsed, most individuals will get to the point where they need to get some sleep.

Sleep will generally be filled with vivid dreams that can include the sensation of flight. Having control of the dream, to some extent may be possible.

With larger doses, peak effects can be felt for 24-72 hours and visual impairment can last longer. As the dose size increases, loss of coordination, racing thoughts, delirium, hallucinations, become more common.

The hallucinations can feel very real, like you are literally part of a different world. Henbane can cause the body to go to sleep while the mind stays very awake.

No matter what method of consumption you choose, start with small doses and work your way up to medium doses. Always avoid large doses and excess intake, because an overdose can be fatal.


Related Books

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 Hyoscyamus niger and 6 additional pages about other plants in the Hyoscyamus genus.
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants

Mind-Altering And Poisonous Plants Of The World
First section of the book is an introduction. Second section covers over 200 psychoactive plants and fungi, one page per. Discusses active ingredients, toxicity, pharmacological effects, first aid, more.

First two sections are fairly easy for an intelligent layperson to comprehend. Third section concerns the chemistry of psychoactive plants, and would be of most use to those with at least some knowledge of the subject.

Over 450 pages, glossary, further reading, index. Has one page dedicated to Hyoscyamus niger, and two pages about the chemistry of tropane alkaloids that henbane and some other plants produce.
Mind-Altering And Poisonous Plants Of The World


References
reference 1 - encyclopedia of psychoactive plants
reference 2 - mind-altering and poisonous plants


Links
Erowid henbane vault.
RxList henbane safety concerns.
NIH henbane and its toxicity.
USDA Forest Service henbane.





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