Botanical Name :Hyocyamus nigar
Habitat: Low-lying ground near the sea and Lower Mountain slopes.Found in sandhills, sandy open areas and waste ground in seven counties in Ireland.
Description: Annual/Biennial plant growing to a height of 1m. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires a well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure. The plant flowers from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
Prefers a sunny position and a dry soil. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil but prefers an alkaline soil. Plants succeed in sandy spots near the sea.
Cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant, only the biennial form is considered officinal.
Grows well in maritime areas, often self-sowing freely. Older plants do not transplant well due to a brittle taproot.
Seed – sow summer in a cold frame and pot on as soon as possible before the taproot is too long.
The flowers emit a sickly fishy smell.
Uses : It is widely used as a nutritious Bird feed.
Medicinal Uses: Gastric, or intestinal cramps, diarhhoea, neuralgia, cough hysteria, manis, skin inflammation and boils. Niger seeds has anodyne, narcotic and mydriatic properties, employed as a sedative in nervous infections. In veterinary practice used as urnary sedative.
Henbane has a very long history of use as a medicinal herb, and has been widely cultivated to meet the demand for its use. It is used extensively as a sedative and pain killer and is specifically used for pain affecting the urinary tract, especially when due to kidney stones. Its sedative and antispasmodic effect makes it a valuable treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, relieving tremor and rigidity during the early stages of the disease. This species is the form generally considered best for external use, whilst the white henbane (H. albus) is considered the most appropriate for internal use.
All parts of the plant, but especially the leaves and the seeds, can be used – they are anodyne, antispasmodic, mildly diuretic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative. The plant is used internally in the treatment of asthma, whooping cough, motion sickness, Meniere’s syndrome, tremor in senility or paralysis and as a pre-operative medication. Henbane reduces mucous secretions, as well as saliva and other digestive juices. Externally, it is used as an oil to relieve painful conditions such as neuralgia, dental and rheumatic pains.The leaves should be harvested when the plant is in full flower and they can then be dried for later use. There is an annual and a biennial form of this species, both can be used medicinally but the biennial form is considered to be superior. This is a very poisonous plant that should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
The seed is used in the treatment of asthma, cough, epilepsy, myalgia and toothache.
The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have a bitter, acrid taste with a neutral and poisonous potency. Anthelmintic, antitumor and febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of stomach/intestinal pain due to worm infestation, toothache, inflammation of the pulmonary region and tumours.
The leaves scattered about a house will drive away mice.
Henbane can be toxic, even fatal, to animals in low doses. Not all animals are susceptible; for example, the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including cabbage moths, eat henbane.
It was sometimes one of the ingredients in gruit, traditionally used in beers as a flavouring, until replaced by hops in the 11th to 16th centuries (for example, the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 outlawed ingredients other than barley, hops, yeast, and water).
Henbane is thought to have been the “hebenon” poured into the ear of Hamlet’s father, although other candidates for hebenon exist
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.