HISTORICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REVIEW:It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both were rumored to have used it for murder); and, predating this, it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The genus name Atropa comes from Atropos ("unable to be turned aside"), one of the three Fates in Greek mythology, who cut the thread of life after her sisters had spun and measured it; and the name "bella donna" is derived from Italian and means "beautiful woman" because during the Renaissance the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Species: Atropa Belladona
VERNACULAR NAMESSanskrit: Suchi
English: Indian belladonna Belladonna, Devils Cherries, Naughty Mans Cherries, Divale, Black Cherry, Devils Herb, Great Morel, Dwayberry
Hindi: अंगूर शेफ़ा Angur Shefa, luckmuna, Luckmunee, साग अंगूर Sag-angur
Urdu: Bikh luffah, Poast bikh luffah
Bengali: Yebruj •
Tamil: Bellatona, Pelletonacceti •
Nepal: बेलाडोना Belaadonaa
SynonymsSynonyms in Ayurveda: sag angur, angurshapha, suci, girbuti, salakphala
The name Atropa belladonna was published by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. It is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which it shares with potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, jimsonweed, tobacco, wolfberry, and chili peppers. The common names for this species include belladonna, deadly nightshade, divale, dwale,banewort, devils berries, death cherries, beautiful death, devils herb, great morel, and dwayberry.
The name Atropa is derived from that of the Greek goddess Atropos - she who may not be turned aside i.e. the implacable - one of the three Greek fates or destinies who would determine the course of a mans life by the weaving of threads that symbolized his birth, the events in his life, and finally his death, with Atropos cutting these threads to mark the last of these.The name "belladonna" comes from the Italian language, meaning "beautiful lady"; originating either from its usage as cosmetic for the face or, more probably, from its usage to increase the pupil size in women.
Rasa: Kashaya Katu Tikta
Guna: Ruksha Ushna
Cultivation:The northerly limits for cultivating this plant are about 50 - 55° north and at an elevation between 100 - 200 metres.
Succeeds in any well-drained moisture retentive soil in sun or partial shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. When grown as a medicinal plant, the highest levels of the medically active alkaloids are obtained from plants growing on a light, permeable chalky soil, especially when on a south-west facing slope The highest concentrations are also formed when the plant is growing in a sunny position and in hot summers
Plants tend to be short-lived
Slugs are very fond of this plant and have been known to completely remove the outer bark from the stems
Propogation:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Germination of stored seed is slow and erratic, usually taking 1 - 6 months at 10°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of softwood terminal shoots in spring
Root cuttings in winter
Harvesting:The root is the most active part of the plant, it is harvested in the autumn and can be 1 - 3 years old, though the older roots are very large and difficult to dig up. The leaves are harvested in late spring and dried for later use
Parts used for medicinal purposeLeaves, Root, Stem, ,
Antidote:-Atropa belladonna has unpredictable effects. The antidote for belladonna poisoning is physostigmine or pilocarpine, the same as for atropine.
Geographical distribution:It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. Its distribution extends from Great Britain in the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province of Gilan in the east. It is also naturalised or introduced in some parts of Canada and the United States
Pharmacological:The active components of belladonna mediate anticholinergic actions. The main effects include inhibition of secretions such as dry mouth, tachycardia, pupillary dilation and paralysis of accommodation, relaxation of smooth muscles in the gut, bronchi, biliary tract and bladder (urinary retention), and inhibition of gastric acid secretion . Atropine is a stimulant of the central nervous system
Toxicity studies:Belladonna is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It contains chemicals that can be toxic.
The foliage and berries are extremely toxic when ingested, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which cause delirium and hallucinations, and are also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics
Side effects can include dry mouth, enlarged pupils, blurred vision, red dry skin, fever, fast heartbeat, inability to urinate or sweat, hallucinations, spasms, mental problems, convulsions, and coma.
KEY WORDS: suci Atropa acuminata Rorle ex Lindley, Atropa belladonna Linn.
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