BelladonnaBelladonna also known as deadly nightshade plant is an herb used for various indications since centuries. The leaves of belladonna when crushed have an unacceptable odor and tastes bitter, both when fresh and dry. Belladonna is generally used with other ergot alkaloids, barbiturates or homeopathic preparations.
Health and belladonna
- There are various unclear scientific evidences relating to the health benefits of belladonna. However more research is required in these fields to prove the safety and effectiveness of belladonna.
- Belladonna can reduce the amount of mucus production and relax the air passage in the lungs.
- Belladonna is also used as a headache cure, for ear infection, irritable bowel syndrome, correct the nervous system disorders, and decrease PMS symptoms and menopausal symptoms (hot flashes).
- Besides these there are various health conditions like acute infections, anxiety, arthritis, hemorrhoids, hay fever, gout, diverticulitis, kidney stones, measles, mumps, muscle spasm, short bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, sore throat, tooth ache and many more, but there is no scientific evidence to prove these benefits.
Side effects of belladonna
- Small doses of this herb is generally safe for non-allergic, healthy individuals, but can cause frequent side effects like dilated pupils, dry mouth, skin rashes, confusion, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations.
- Belladonna alkaloids administration can also inhibit cognitive function and gastrointestinal motility.
- Very high doses can also lead to death. But in children a small dose can also be fatal as the symptoms might appear long after an overdose has occurred.
- At dilute concentrations also belladonna can cause dry skin, flushing, sun sensitivity, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, headache, blurred vision, photosensitivity, nervousness, dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, convulsions or coma.
- People with Down’s syndrome or myasthenia graves are especially sensitive to belladonna.
- Belladonna should be avoided by children, old people, and people with heart diseases, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms or fluid in lungs.
- Belladonna can also affect the activity of stomach and intestines so should be avoided in ulcers, reflex, and hiatus hernia, poor movements of intestine, colitis, constipation or after a surgery.
- Belladonna ingredients are also found in breast milk of nursing mothers, thus use of belladonna is not recommended for them as it can be prove dangerous for infants.
Read the product labels and discuss the dosage with a health care professional before starting the therapy to avoid any complications. Also let him know if you are under medications or other drugs for some condition.
Belladonna is also referred to as deadly nightshade. It is a plant which has been classified as toxic. However human use of belladonna has continued down the ages. Belladonna alkaloids are also found in many prescription medicines in their synthesized form.
The belladonna herb contains certain psychoactive alkaloids which are known to have an effect on the brain. Reports have indicated that hallucinations, nervousness and altered perceptions are some of these effects. Belladonna is also an anticholinergic which means that is can alter acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter. This can lead to symptoms such as confusion and drowsiness. If the plant is ingested, it could cause slurring of the speech, dryness of the mouth, increase heart beat and even convulsions.
The belladonna plant is a perennial one with dark green oval shaped leaves. Its bell shaped violet flowers and black fruit make it rather attractive. Many a times it is children who become victims of this toxic plant. The adverse effects of the herb may be greatly aggravated in children and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, agitation; dizziness and visual impairment are likely to occur. Sleepiness, tiredness, breathing problems and even death may also occur.
The plant contains atropine which is a toxic alkaloid and eating just two fruits of the plant can be fatal. Use of the derivatives of belladonna in medication is widespread. Such medications are then used to treat headaches, abdominal cramps and menstrual symptoms. The derivatives are usually mixed with Phenobarbital and ergotamine.
There have been no recent medical studies which have analyzed the role of belladonna by itself. Use of belladonna in homeopathy is known to be safe. The addition of belladonna derivatives is in extremely low levels and hence not toxic. Homeopathy essentially makes use of constituents that are repeatedly diluted in water and hence may not retain any parts of the original substance. In fact, some studies conducted on homeopathic use of belladonna have revealed that in comparison with a placebo, belladonna did not produce any effects. Homeopathic medications which use belladonna are generally prescribed for cold, flu, boils, pink eye, earache, tonsillitis, sunburn, acne and nose bleeds.
There are many individuals who grow belladonna for landscaping or because of the flowers and fruits. In such cases, extreme caution must be practiced due to the toxic effects of the plant, especially in children. Many individuals who have taken belladonna have reported allergic reactions. These reactions are usually unexpected and may cause symptoms such as breathing trouble and facial swelling. Those who have an increased sensitivity to belladonna must avoid taking it in any form.
Those with heart conditions must also avoid taking this herb as it is known to elevate heart rate. In some cases, belladonna may cause eye pain and skin rash. Some of the less common effects of this plant include urination problems, nasal congestion, reduced perspiration and light sensitivity. Individuals who take belladonna must avoid operating heavy machinery or consuming alcohol. Heat must also be avoided as belladonna causes reduced sweating.