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Belladonna Deadly Nightshade

Updated on September 13, 2014

Belladonna

Source

The plant of murder

Belladonna has long been known for its toxic poisoning qualities. Even the nibble of a few berries has proven deadly for some unfortunate few. Although Belladonna has its lethal purpose, it also has other medicinal and recreational functions. But don't go casually using nightshade to catch a funky buzz or end someone's life! Although it may be tempting!

I am assuming NO legal responsibility for what you choose to do with the knowledge shared in this article. This plant has been said to belong to the Devil, so proceed using it with extreme caution and respect!

Belladonna is a perennial plant, native to western, central and southern Europe. It is found over the British Isles for the exception of Ireland and Scotland. It grows on dry soils, wastelands, in woods, and thickets. Becoming 2-5 ft in height, it has a thick, white root and a purple stem. The leaves are dark green, in long pointy ovals, and somewhat star shaped. The cascading purple flowers bloom June through August and then again from August to November, followed by distinctive alluring dark blackberries after the bloom. When the berries are crushed, they are easily recognized by a foul odor, until crushed they have an appealing sweet smell. This plant is not recommended for the novice gardener, especially if the family garden is enjoyed by children or pets. Never handle any part of this plant if you have or suspect to have cuts or abrasions on your hands or skin.

Uses through history

  • Poison
  • Recreational drug use
  • Cosmetics/beauty
  • Witchcraft
  • Analgesic, pain reliever, muscle relaxer

Witches

Source

Folklore

Witches, Warlocks, Pagans, and those practicing Wicca have been persecuted in horrible and gruesome ways since before 1480, they were feared to be demonic, Satan worshipers, charlatans and highly misunderstood and unappreciated for the skills they possessed. Luckily our world is no longer that ignorant, at least not where witches are concerned. In reality, these people were highly skilled in using medicinal herbs, and natural earth provided resources for health remedies, cures, as well as casting spells, and ceremonial practices. All with intent to preserve, heal and protect their coven. It was long believed that witches used a mixture of Belladonna and opium combined with other plants in a flying ointment, when applied to the skin it helped them "fly" to gatherings with their own kind, not literally, but more so a mental "trip" and to induce trance like states. Belladonna is toxic and encourages hallucinatory dreaming, twilight sleep, and dream-like waking mental states. As Indian tribes used peyote for enlightenment and guidance, so have witches used Belladonna. Belladonna has a morbid reputation. Many current day herbalists refuse to grow it for this reason.

Belladonna oil

Yes, it's sold on Etsy, but currently made with 3ml of  Belladonna.  More as an anointing oil for ceremonies.
Yes, it's sold on Etsy, but currently made with 3ml of Belladonna. More as an anointing oil for ceremonies. | Source

Recreational drug use

Belladonna, or Nightshade has sometimes been used as a recreational drug for the vivid and profound hallucinations as well as delirium it produces. Similar to psychedelic mushrooms, and peyote. Hallucinations with Belladonna however, are often unpleasant, fear and paranoia inducing and can be extremely dangerous because of the unintentional overdose that can be easily achieved.

The use of Belladonna for recreational purpose should NEVER be taken lightly. It is not a simple substance to use for a quick high. It is very toxic, and the high it produces is from brain poisoning. Nightshade is highly poisonous, causing death by the paralysis of the respiratory system. Lower doses cause euphoria and disorientation, followed by deep sleep with vivid dreams. In large doses prepare for raving lunacy and possible respiratory failure, followed by death. Like any other drug or substance, each persons tolerance to Belladonna varies, making it that more dangerous.

You can boil 0.5 grams (or less!) of dried Belladonna leaf into 1 liter water for 8-10 minutes. Then allow it to reduce to around 300 ml (it will become a rich golden color, similar to urine when done). Allow the fluid to cool, and it can then be consumed as a tea. The trip from Nightshade can last anywhere from 8-10 hours, producing a high similar to LSD. Belladonna really should NOT be used as a recreational drug, simply put, it's poison. Belladonna can also be prepared as an ointment, oil, or salve, and applied to the skin.

What to expect from a Belladonna high:

  • Body warmth as well as hot and cold flushing
  • Loss of spacial, time, and depth perception awareness
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Vivid dreams
  • Astral travel, OBEs
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Light sensitivity
  • Delirium
  • Confusion and memory issues
  • Paranoia and fear

Cosmetics

Women have used Belladonna primarily to dilate their pupils, because dilated pupils were considered sexy, mysterious, and attractive. Prolonged use however will cause visual distortions, disturbances, inability to focus and potential blindness. In Italian Belladonna means "beautiful lady" or "pretty woman". It was also used on the skin as an ointment to create a healthy vibrant "glow" or "blushing" of the cheeks. Belladonna is rarely used in cosmetics in the 21st century due to its multiple adverse side effects.

Belladonna for medicinal purposes

Belladonna has been used for medicinal reasons mostly through the 1930s, and is not particularly popular in current times. Dilutions are made for medical uses, however ALL PARTS OF THE PLANT CONTAIN ATROPINE WHICH IS LETHAL, EVEN SMALL DOSES.

So what can this Devil plant do?

  • Relieve muscle spasms
  • Control colitis, diverticulitis, colic, peptic ulcers, spastic bladder, and IBS
  • Parkinson's disease sweating
  • Tremors
  • Excessive salivation
  • Motion sickness, nausea, vomiting
  • Reduces nighttime urination
  • Menstrual cramps

Warnings:

Don't drive when using Belladonna, don't drink alcohol or take sedatives. Don't use it if you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant. If you have kidney disease, urinary blockages, severe colitis, megacolon, myasthenia gravis, glaucoma, liver disease, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, hiatal hernia, asthma, lung disease, or an enlarged prostate, you should consult a physician before using.

Locusta

Famous Roman serial killer, the weapon?  Belladonna
Famous Roman serial killer, the weapon? Belladonna | Source

How to poison someone with Belladonna

Just kidding! I can't tell you that! Belladonna or Nightshade is one of the top ranked toxic plants known to man, but still readily available on earth. The famous Roman poisoner Locusta murdered the Roman emperor Claudius with a sly weapon-a tincture of Nightshade. Locusta wasn't the only one that took advantage of its power. Belladonna is famous for its impersonal executions in history. But easily traceable now, and no longer favored.

Belladonna is a very seductive plant, with is beautiful star shaped leaves, alluring black berries. and dark reputation, then add in its ability to make one more attractive, its fascinating hallucinations, and it's easy to see why it's one helluva charming toxic plant! The berries have been known to taste bitter and slightly sweet and not in any way unpleasant to consume. The root of the plant is believed to be highly concentrated with toxins, but the berries cause more accidental poisoning because their beauty is hard to ignore! Fatality varies between each individual. Its been able to kill small children with just half a berry, where others have survived when consuming 25-30, after receiving medical care.

Always respectfully admire and use cautiously what mother nature has blessed us with.

© 2013 Rebecca

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting side of writing and you made sure of this one an informative and useful hub.

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 

      4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Datura stramonium (Jimsonweed) is also fun to grow. It is used in the same way as belladonna. Datura leaves contain hyosycamine, atropine, and scopolamine. I think the flowers are pretty--big white trumpets--though the foiage is coarse. Datura reseeds like crazy. Maude Grieve has a lot to say about it: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thorna12...

      Belladonna contains hyosycamine and atropine, with traces of scopolamine, so the uses of the two plants are fairly interchangable. Grieve also has a lot to say about belladonna: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nighde05.htm...

    • Bishop55 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca 

      4 years ago from USA

      I agree. I still want to make tea, but I have kids and pets near too, and I'd never forgive myself if they accidentally got a hold of it. Valerian root is also nice, but not nearly as potent, and non-toxic as far as I know. I may have to hub about that now. lol

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      4 years ago

      It's such a beautiful plant; I must admit just for it's historic/folkloric value I've enjoyed growing it in the past (I've stopped since having kids & getting a dog, best not to have it on the property). It's pretty fascinating.

    • Bishop55 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca 

      4 years ago from USA

      Awesome comments blueheron. I did not know about Romeo and Juliet, but that seems fitting. If you need Belladonna you can buy it - http://www.spiritapothecary.com/et1.html

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 

      4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      There are lots of belladonna fun facts: It was one of the active ingredients, along with Datura stramonium, in the over-the-counter asthma medication, Asthmador. You used it by inhaling the smoke. It is no longer sold, but it worked great. I used it for asthma as a child in the 1950s, as my grandfather had used it for his. It's anti-spasmodic effects stop the bronchial spasms of asthma. (No hallucinogenic effects when used in this way, sad to say.) It is much less toxic and and has fewer side-effects than most other asthma medicatitons. Too bad it's not still available.

      It is believed that belladonna was the "poison" taken by Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, to make her seem to be dead. Macbeth put belladonna in the mead he served to the invading Danes, and killed them after they fell asleep.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      Very interesting! I could see writers wanting to use this information for their plots!

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