Atropa Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)

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Atropa Belladonna (also called deadly nightshade) is medicinal plant used in ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines. Belladonna is a common name used in homeopathic materia medica. It is a powerful herbal medicine, which is sedative, antispasmodic, anodyne and mydriatic. Atropine is an alkaloid derived from the belladonna, which is used in modern medicines for its sedative, mydriatic, anodyne and antispasmodic action.

Atropa belladonna has the ability to improve respiratory health, gastrointestinal health, and nervous system. It relieves muscle pain, spasms, and headache. Atropa belladonna boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation too. It further soothes hormonal imbalances and induces a calming effect. Its anti-anxiety and anti-stress property helps one to relax.

Botanical Description

Basic Information

Scientific NameAtropa Bella-donna
Plant FamilySOLANACEAE
Hindi NameSAG-ANGUR, ANGURSHEFA, SUCHI BUTI
English NameDEADLY NIGHTSHADE, BELLADONNA
Other NamesYEBRUJ, GIRBUTI

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderASTERANAE
OrderSOLANALES
FamilySOLANACEAE  (nightshades)
GenusATROPA
SpeciesAtropa Bella-donna (Belladonna)

Medicinal Parts

  • Fresh leaves
  • Roots
  • Stem

Atropine Alkaloid is extracted from leaves and roots. Fresh leaves and plant branches are used for preparation of belladonna extract.

Derivatives & Formulations

  • Belladonna extract
  • Belladonna Tincture
  • Belladonna Ark
  • Belladonna Satva

Phytochemistry (Active Constituents)

Two main alkaloids are found in belladonna.

  • Atropine
  • Hyoscyamine

Indian belladonna contains more Atropine and Hyoscyamine as compared to European varieties.

Medicinal Properties

Atropa Belladonna (deadly nightshade) has following healing properties.

  • Antispasmodic
  • Pain reliever or anodyne
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Mydriatic (dilate pupil)
  • Sedative
  • Antidepressant

Therapeutic Indications

Therapeutic Indications of Atropa Belladonna (deadly nightshade) are as follows.

Brain & Nerves

  • Headache

Chest, Lungs & Airways

  • Chest pain
  • Inter-costal neuralgia
  • Asthma
  • Whooping cough
  • Persistent cough
  • Hiccup

Joint & Muscles

  • Pain disorders
  • Muscle spasm

Digestive Health

  • Pain due to gall bladder stone
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anal fissure
  • Hemorrhoids

Ear, Nose & Throat

  • Pharyngitis
  • Earache
  • Tonsillitis

Eye

  • Conjunctivitis

Skin & hair

  • Acne

Women Health

  • Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
  • Leucorrhea

Other disorders

  • Diabetes Insipidus
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nosebleed

Benefits & Medicinal Uses

Atropa belladonna, commonly known as deadly nightshade is used in the treatment and management of various diseases and disorders. When taken in right amount it has positive effects on the body and overall health but if taken in large doses without any medical advice it can be harmful and dangerous.

Atropa Belladonna helps in almost all respiratory diseases including asthma, whooping cough, persistent cough etc. In homeopathic medicines, it is also used as a painkiller. It reduces stiffness and alleviates nerve pain.

Research has observed that Atropa belladonna is an excellent source of health promoting compounds such as atropamine, coumarin, hyoscyamine, and flavonoids. The presence of these compounds helps in the treatment and management of various disorders such as peptic ulcer, menstrual cramps and motion sickness. Atropa belladonna is also a part of various homeopathic preparations.

Headache

Few studies have found that small doses of Atropa belladonna help in the treatment of a headache. It is effective for headaches related to drowsiness, migraines and nasal congestion. It relieves nerve stiffness and alleviates a headache. (1)

Atropa Belladonna alleviates nerve, reduces congestion and relieves stiffness. It is effective remedy for following types of headaches.

  1. Headache with pulsating pain
  2. Excruciating headaches
  3. Migraine
  4. Dull headache with feeling of stiffness of forehead and nasal congestion
  5. Throbbing congestive headache
  6. Headache due to nerve irritation
  7. Feeling of Heaviness head
  8. Drowsiness linked with headache

Asthma

Atropa Belladonna dilates respiratory tracts and eases breathing process. It helps in asthma by reducing chest congestion and wheezing.

Lung Congestion

Atropa belladonna contains alkaloids that reduce excess mucus production. It further reduces inflammation and suppresses the formation of inflammatory mediators that otherwise irritate the respiratory system.

Besides this, Atropa belladonna decreases sputum and helps in clearing lung congestion. Furthermore, its antibacterial property helps to get rid of bacteria that get stuck in the mucus. (2)

Whooping cough & persistent cough

Atropa Belladonna is beneficial in cough that occurs due to laryngeal irritation. However, it may not alone beneficial in spasmodic cough. Other remedies also require curing this type of cough. Nevertheless, it is beneficial in cough associated with congestion and throat irritation. It shortens the duration of whooping cough attacks and reduces severity of cough. It is more beneficial when irritation of nerves or tubular musculature is associated with cough.

Persistent Hiccup

The most common cause of persistent hiccup is continuous irritation of vague nerve. However, some food triggers also irritate the diaphragm and cause its involuntary contractions. Atropa belladonna soothes the diaphragm and reduces nerve irritation. Thus, it becomes effective in persistent hiccup.

Pain Disorders

Atropa Belladonna has anti-inflammatory and analgesic property due to which it is effective in all types of pain disorders. It also acts on nerves and reduces their irritation and sensitivity to pain. Its oral intake and local application in form of ointment are beneficial for alleviating pain. It helps in the relaxation of nerves and muscles and deactivates pain signals. Its sedative property induces a calming effect and decreases muscle cramps and stiffness. (3)

It is effective in following pain disorders.

  1. Rheumatic pain
  2. Leg pain
  3. Backache
  4. Sciatic nerve pain
  5. Neuralgia
  6. Gout

Muscle pain and fibromyalgia

Belladonna has muscle relaxant property. It reduces spasm of the involuntary muscles. It relieves spasmodic pain and benefits in muscle cramps.

Boosts Immunity

Atropa belladonna is an anti-inflammatory agent that suppresses the production of inflammatory mediators and reduces overall inflammation. It increases phagocytosis, a process in which specialized cells in the body ingest harmful bacteria or dangerous foreign particles. Thus it keeps infections and diseases at bay.

Atropa belladonna further inhibits degeneration of healthy cells which otherwise deteriorates overall health. Hence, it prevents the onset of diseases, enhances the overall immune system and improves overall health. (4, 5)

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is caused due to deterioration of nerve cells and thus it affects body movements. Atropa belladonna has been traditionally used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Naturally occurring alkaloids present in it possess anticholinergic property. Anticholinergics are drugs that inhibit the action of acetylcholine, a substance present in the brain that opposes dopamine, a chemical that controls body movements. Hence, Atropa belladonna reduces tremors and abnormal nerve functioning. (6)

Anxiety & Stress

Studies have found that low doses of Atropa belladonna possess anxiolytic and anti-stress properties. It helps in reversing negative effects of stress on behavior and mood. Atropa belladonna stimulates the release of pleasure hormones such as dopamine and helps a person to relax. It further reduces stress, anxiety and a feeling of depression. Such an effect is attributed to the presence of principal active compound atropine in it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Atropa belladonna is an anticholinergic agent that blocks the action of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a substance that helps in the contraction of smooth muscles. Inhibition of acetylcholine action helps in the relaxation of muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and relieves diarrhea, colic, and spasms which are the main features of irritable bowel syndrome. It reduces fecal urgency and possesses anti-spasmodic activity.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Studies have found that a combination formula containing alkaloids from Atropa belladonna helps in reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as lethargy, fatigue, breast tenderness and irritability. It was observed that females who were treated with Atropa belladonna containing formula reported reduction in these symptoms.

Strengthens Nervous System

Atropa belladonna helps in the management of diseases and disorders related to the nervous system. It relieves the symptoms related to it and soothes the nervous system. It further reduces the stiffness of the nerves and decreases their irritation.

Dosage

The dosage of Atropa Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) depends on the parts and derivatives used in the different systems of medicines. Here are some examples of belladonna dosage for your references.

Parts/DerivativesDosage*
Leaves Powder50 to 100 mg
Root Powder25 to 100 mg
Leaves Juice1 to 4 drops
Belladonna Extract (traditional water extract)5 to 10 mg
Belladonna Tincture1 to 3 drops

The dosage of belladonna given above is a single dosage. Herbalist can recommend twice or thrice a day according to your health problems and symptoms.

Caution & Side Effects

Atropa Belladonna (deadly nightshade) may be UNSAFE, TOXIC & INTOLERABLE. It contains some alkaloids, which has potential side effects. Unwise and wrong use of belladonna can lead to following side effects.

  • Dilated pupils of the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Increases heartbeat
  • Dryness in the mouth and throat
  • Red or Inflamed skin
  • Dryness of the skin
  • Fever
  • Decreased urination
  • Decreased sweating
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations

Pregnancy & breastfeeding

Atropa Belladonna may be UNSAFE and TOXIC in pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can cause serious side effects in pregnancy and may result in reduction of breast milk in breastfeeding.

Contraindications

Atropa Belladonna (deadly nightshade) should not be used in following health conditions.

  • Tachycardia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Fever
  • Constipation
  • Stomach ulcers
  • GERD
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Down syndrome
  • Narrow angle glaucoma
  • Urinary retention

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