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Written by Lawrence Young   
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 00:00


COMMON NAMES banewort, beautiful l lady, deadly nightshade, death's herb

Atropa belladonna, a plant member of the potato family, is sometimes peddled as a surefire method of blowing your mind If potatoes are your thing, we'd suggest that you stick to french fries and keep away from this one.

In Roman times, enlarged pupils were considered a mark of great beauty. Since one of the side effects of this drug is pupil dilation, the Italians long ago christened it belladonna "beautiful lady." Beauty is, however, very much in the eye of the beholder, so you might want to look a bit further into belladonna before the name begins to sound too attractive.

For you chemists, the active ingredients in this plant are the alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hysoscyamine. When abused, this combination has a very high overdose potential.

Peddlers tout belladonna as being a mind-altering drug, and that it can be. Unfortunately, the mind alterations may turn out to be permanent.

Take it and it'll certainly get you stoned. Take a little more and you'll start to act in a somewhat bizarre manner. During the Middle- Ages these effects made it one of the more popular potions for use by those into witchcraft and devil worship. Take too much and you'll end up with serious brain damage or maybe even dead.

Belladonna has been around since ancient times. The roots and leaves of this herb could originally be found in wooded areas of Southern and Central Europe. Today the plant is also cultivated in Asia, Algeria, and the United States.

In native areas, dosage is in the form of dried, crushed leaves (30-200 mg) or belladonna root (30-120 mg). Both can be :eaten or smoked. Both can also be fatal, particularly the plant root, which. contains apoatropine, lethal in even small doses:

In our country, belladonna can be found in a number of legal medicines, including some nonprescription sleeping pills. It is sometimes used as a preanesthetic in surgical situations. When mixed with other ingredients, tinctures of belladonna leaves and root, as well as pure atropine, can act as a treatment for certain types of ulcers and stomach problems by inhibiting gastric secretions. Some asthma drugs such as Asthmador also contain belladonna. Overdo Asthmador, or any other potent form of belladonna, and you'll find yourself on the way to a severe case of overdose-not a very pleasant trip.

While the trip may start out with some pleasant hallucinogenic and hypnotic sensations, before long, a babbling, dry mouth, hot skin, and a rash may develop. The eyes will probably experience blurred vision, and a high degree of light sensitivity in addition to those "beautiful lady" enlarged pupils. Even if you survive this trip, there is a chance that your eyes will never be quite the same again. Permanent brain damage is possible.

Beyond its earliest stages, the trip will also consist of a good deal of fear, restlessness, and confusion. If really overdone, vomiting may progress to convulsions and even death from heart failure. Trip length may vary from several hours to several days, depending on how much belladonna has been consumed.

If you've got even a few smarts, by now you're probably convinced that belladonna isn't your bag at all. Before you take any oaths that you'll never touch the stuff, though, be reminded that you've probably had it already. Because belladonna helps dry up mucous membranes, small quantities can be found in a variety of cold remedies, including Contac capsules. Unless you refuse to follow package directions and over-pop these, the chances for encountering any problems are almost nil.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 January 2011 22:27

Our valuable member Lawrence Young has been with us since Sunday, 19 December 2010.

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