Datura

Botanical Name:Datura metel L. (Solanaceae)

Syn : Datura alba Nees, D. fastuosa L. var alba C.B. Clarke

English name: Hindu datura.

Sanskrit name: Dhustura.

Vernacular names :Ben: Dhutra, Dhatura; Hin : Sadahdhatura; Tam: Vellum mattai. Trade name: Dhutra.
Datura is a genus of 12-15 species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Their exact natural distribution is uncertain, due to extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe, but is most likely restricted to the Americas, from the United States south through Mexico (where the highest species diversity occurs) to the mid-latitudes of South America. Some species are reported by some authorities to be native to China, but this is not accepted by the Flora of China, where the three species present are treated as introductions from the Americas. (It also grows naturally throughout most of Australia).

Common names include jimson weed, Hell’s Bells, Devil’s weed, Devil’s cucumber, thorn-apple (from the spiny fruit), pricklyburr (similarly), and somewhat paradoxically, both angel’s trumpet and devil’s trumpet (from their large trumpet-shaped flowers), or as Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to it in the the Scarlet Letter apple-peru. The word Datura comes from Hindi dhatÅ«rā (thorn apple); record of this name dates back only to 1662 (OED).

Scientific Name
Datura Stramonium L. – Named by Carl Linnaeus as published in Species Plantarum (1753). The genus was derived from ancient hindu word for plant, dhatura. The species name is from New Latin, stramonium, meaning thornapple. Stramonium is originally from from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).

They are large, vigorous annual plants or short-lived perennial plants, growing to 1-3 m tall. The leaves are alternate, 10-20 cm long and 5-18 cm broad, with a lobed or toothed margin. The flowers are erect or spreading (not pendulous), trumpet-shaped, 5-20 cm long and 4-12 cm broad at the mouth; color varies from white to yellow, pink, and pale purple. The fruit is a spiny capsule 4-10 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, splitting open when ripe to release the numerous seeds.

Jimsonweed is a cosmopolitan weed of worldwide distribution. It is found in most of the continental US from New England to Texas, Florida to the far western states. Jimsonweed is found in most southern Canadian Provinces as well. It gows in cultivated fields being a major weed in soybeans worldwide. Jimsonweed is common on overgrazed pastures, barnyards, and waste land preferring rich soils.

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Datura species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including .
Datura contains the alkaloids scopolamine and atropine and has long been used as a poison and hallucinogen. The dose-response curve for the combination of alkaloids is very steep, so people who consume datura can easily take a potentially fatal overdose. In the 1990s and 2000s, the United States media contained stories of adolescents and young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting datura.

Datura stramonium is also called jimsonweed. This name comes from the town of Jamestown, Virginia. Various versions of the story exist, but in the most common version, British soldiers sent to quell Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 were accidentally served this unfamiliar plant as food, causing many to be incapacitated for 11 days. Datura wrightii, also called sacred datura or western jimsonweed, has similar effects.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
Dried leaves and seeds of Datura is used in the British and US Pharmacopoeia as antispasmodic under critical conditions of Asthma and whooping cough. Antispasmodic, anodyne and narcotic. Its properties are virtually those of hyoscyamine. It acts similarly to belladonna, though without constipating, and is used for purposes similar to those for which belladonna is employed, dilating the pupil of the eyes in like manner. It is considered slightly more sedative to the central nervous system than is belladonna.

Stramonium is, in fact, so similar to belladonna in the symptoms produced by it in small or large doses, in its toxicity and its general physiological and therapeutic action, that the two drugs are practically identical, and since they are about the same strength in activity, the preparations may be used in similar doses.

Stramonium has been employed in all the conditions for which belladonna is more commonly used, but acts much more strongly on the respiratory organs, and has acquired special repute as one of the chief remedies for spasmodic asthma, being used far more as the principal ingredient in asthma powders and cigarettes than internally. The practice of smoking D. ferox for asthma was introduced into Great Britain from the East Indies by a certain General, and afterwards the English species was substituted for that employed in Hindustan. Formerly the roots were much used: in Ceylon, the leaves, stem and fruit are all cut up together to make burning powders for asthma, but in this country the dried leaves are almost exclusively employed for this purpose. The beneficial effect is considered due to the presence of atropine, which paralyses the endings of the pulmonary branches, thus relieving the bronchial spasm. It has been proved that the smoke from a Stramonium cigarette, containing 0.25 grams of Stramonium, leaves contains as much as 0.5 milligrams of atropine. The leaves may be made up into cigarettes or smoked in a pipe, either alone, or with a mixture of tobacco, or with cubebs, sage, belladonna and other drugs. More commonly, however, the coarsely-ground leaves are mixed into cones with some aromatic and with equal parts of potassium nitrate, in order to inincrease combustion and are burned in a saucer, the smoke being inhaled into the lungs. Great relief is afforded, the effect being more immediate when the powdered leaves are burnt and the smoke inhaled than when smoked by the patient in the form of cigars or cigarettes, but like most drugs, after constant use, the relief is not so great and the treatment is only palliative, the causation of the attack not being affected. Accidents have also occasionally happened from the injudicious use of the plant in this manner.

Dryness of the throat and mouth are to be regarded as indications that too large a quantity is being taken.

The seeds, besides being employed to relieve asthma in the same manner as the leaves, being smoked with tobacco, are employed as a narcotic and anodyne, generally used in the form of an extract, prepared by boiling the seeds in water, or macerating them in alcohol. A tincture is sometimes preferred. The extract is given in pills to allay cough in spasmodic bronchial asthma, in whooping-cough and spasm of the bladder, and is considered a better cough-remedy than opium, but should only be used with extreme care, as in over-doses it is a strong narcotic poison.

Applied locally, in ointment, plasters or fomentation, Stramonium will palliate the pain of muscular rheumatism, neuralgia, and also pain due to haemorrhoids, fistula, abscesses and similar inflammation.

Dautra or Jimsonweed Toxicity
All parts of Jimsonweed are poisonous. Leaves and seeds are the usual source of poisoning, but are rarely eaten do to its strong odor and unpleasant taste. Poisoning can occur when hungry animals are on sparse pasture with Jimsonweed infestation. Most animal poisoning results from feed contamination. Jimsonweed can be harvested with hay or silage, and subsequently poisoning occurs upon feeding the forage. Seeds can contaminate grains and is the most common poisoning which occurs in chickens.

Poisoning is more common in humans than in animals. Children can be attracted by flowers and consume Jimsonweed accidentally. In small quantities, Jimsonweed can have medicinal or haulucinagenic properties, but poisoning readily occurs because of misuse. Ingestion of Jimsonweed caused the mass poisoning of soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.

Dautra or Jimsonweed toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids. The total alkaloid content in the plant can be as high as 0.7%. The toxic chemicals are atropine, hyoscine (also called scopolamine), and hyoscyamine.

Cautions:
Because of Jimsonweed’s toxic properties, the custom of destroying the plant should be practiced on every farm. Animals should not be allowed to graze on sparse pasture inhabited by Jimsonweed. Hay and silage should not be made from fields until all Jimsonweed has been removed. Soybean and other grain fields infested with Jimsonweed can be controlled by a variety of broadleaf herbicides.
Note that herbicides should be applied as directed by a qualified applicator.

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Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Help taken from: en.wikipedia.org and www.botanical.com

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One thought on “Datura

  1. Mirabelle Flint

    Great post, I had no idea that datura could be used to treat asthma, but after a moment of looking, I found a study about it. In Australia, at least, scopolamine patches are available for motion sickness.

    Sounds like scary stuff overall, due to it’s toxicity and reputation for causing amnesia.

    Reply

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