The Pernicious Diaries ~ Belladonna – Part 2
Plant Parts Used:
Remedies from Belladonna:
Remedies prepared from the belladonna plant are normally prescribed to bring a relaxing effect on distended organs; this is particularly beneficial for patients with problems in the stomach and the intestines. The remedies made from the belladonna are also helpful in bringing relief from intestinal colic and pain in the abdominal region. The belladonna remedies help in dealing with peptic ulcers, and it can also help relax spasms along the urinary tubules.
The remedies made from the belladonna can also be used in treating the physical symptoms seen in people affected by Parkinson’s disease, the herbal remedy helps in reducing the tremors and lessens the rigidity of the body, and improves speech and mobility in the patient at the same time.
Belladonna with its ability to bring a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles relaxant is used in conventional medicine where it is made into an anesthetic, especially in procedures where digestive or bronchial secretions must be kept suppressed. The therapeutic belladonna dosage level is almost equal to the toxic dose, and the dosage regimen must always be monitored. Patients given belladonna at excessive dosage levels can suffer from respiratory paralysis, they may even go into a coma, and in some cases, death may also be the unfortunate result.
Belladonna has narcotic effects, it is also a known diuretic, and in addition, it possesses sedative, antispasmodic and mydriatic effects. As far as the treatment of eye diseases is concerned, the belladonna scores high marks. The alkaloid known as atropine, which is extracted from the plant is the most important chemical constituent due to its ability to dilate the pupil in the eye. The pupils of a person are dilated with atropine no matter how it is used, consumed internally or injected under the skin the dilation of the pupil is always the first effect. However, when it is dropped directly on the eye, the effect occurs much more rapidly and a smaller volume of diluted atropine usually suffices for the purpose. Oculists use tiny discs to test a patient’s sight before they prescribe glasses, these discs are made from gelatin with 1/50000 grain of atropine on each disc – a single disk weighs about 1/50 grain. There is hardly a safe operation performed on the eye without using this valuable alkaloid. Atropine is, however, a very potent poison, the doses of atropine given to a patient for consumption is exceedingly minute, only about 1/200 to 1/100 grain is given as a dose to any patient. Atropine is also injected subcutaneously and used as an antidote for opium, this chemical has also been utilized in cases of poisoning induced by calabar bean, and it also finds use in some cases of chloroform poisoning. Large doses of atropine can paralyze the nerve endings of involuntary muscles, though it induces no effect on the voluntary muscles, the danger is that the paralysis of the nerve endings found on involuntary muscles will finally affect the central nervous system, and this situation will induce sudden mental excitement and delirium progressing to other severe problems for the patient.
All the different herbal preparations and remedies made using the belladonna have many medicinal uses. When the topical remedy is applied locally on the skin, it acts to lessen irritability and pain, and belladonna is used as a topical herbal lotion. This remedy is sometimes used as a plaster or liniment to treat cases of neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, and sciatica in a person affected by such disorders. When the belladonna is used as a drug, it is particularly good for its action on the brain and the urinary bladder in disorders connected to these organs. Belladonna remedies are used to stanch excessive secretions, and also in reducing inflammation in the body. The remedy is also used to lessen sweating symptomatic of phthisis and other physically exhausting diseases that affect people around the world. Used in small doses, the remedy can reduce heart palpitation, and a plaster of the remedy applied to the chest over the cardiac region will help eliminate pain and distress felt by the patient.
The remedy made from the belladonna is also a very powerful anti-spasmodic and aids in dealing with intestinal colic and spasmodic asthma. To help bring relief from spasmodic asthma, cigarettes made from the leaves of the belladonna are occasionally given to patients. The remedy is ideal for children, they tolerate the remedy well even when it is prescribed in large doses for treating disorders such as whooping cough and false croup – two very common diseases in children.
Belladonna also has a very effective action on the circulation in the body, and it is usually given in cases of the pulmonary collapse during pneumonia – it is also used in treating typhoid fever and many acute diseases. Belladonna can actively hike the heartbeat rate to 20 to 40 beats per minute, without lessening the pressure. The remedy is also effective in treating an acute case of soreness in the throat and actively aids in bringing relief from local inflammation and congestion in the chest.
A noted physician of the past eras, Hahnemann proved experimentally that an herbal belladonna tincture will protect a person from scarlet fever if it was given in very small doses. The belief at one time was that a cure for cancer could be found in the leaves of the belladonna, people believed the leaves when applied as a topical poultice, in either fresh or dried and powdered form could help remove tumors on the body.
Plasters made from the belladonna are often applied on the site of external injury, particularly following a bad fall, and such applications can alleviate the injured or sprained part of the body. To treat corns and bunions on the body, an herbal mixture of belladonna plaster, some salicylic acid, and lead plaster is normally recommended by a herbalist.
Other medical uses
- Tension headache
Belladonna possesses tropane alkaloids which inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system in the body. This part of the nervous system is the one that controls and regulates the involuntary actions of the human body. The alkaloids can induce a reduction in the production of saliva; they induce a reduction in the gastric, intestinal, and bronchial secretions as well. These alkaloids also affect the activity of the urinary tubules; they affect the action of the urinary bladder and affect the functioning of the intestines. The tropane alkaloids in the body also increase the heartbeat rate and bring about dilation in the pupils of the eye.
The presence of the compounds atropine and hyoscyamine are the main reasons for the medicinal properties possessed by the belladonna. Most of the principal remedies made from the belladonna are made using the root as the primary ingredient.
The alkaloid content of belladonna root can vary, this variation is between 0.4 and 0.6%, however, up to 1% of the volume of all fluids in the root can be only alkaloids – this consists of the compound hyoscyamine and its isomer atropine at about 0.1 to 0.6%; the compound belladonna and at in some instances the compound atropine, other compounds such as flavonoids and coumarins are also seen. The root also contains substantial amounts of starch and rosin – a red colored compound. The root also contains traces of the compound scopolamine-hyoscine; also, the present is a fluorescent principle almost chemically identical to the compound found in the bark of the horse chestnut herb – this fluorescent compound is widely distributed in the natural plant order Solanaceae. The compound hyoscyamine forms the greater portion of the alkaloid matter found in the root and there is a possibility that most of the atropine found in the roots are produced via chemical conversion from the isomer during the extraction process.
The content of alkaloids present from wild or cultivated plants can differ to some extent, and this content may also depend on the methods of drying and storing used. The alkaloid content in any plant is also dependent to some extent on the conditions in which the plants are grown, the type of soil, weather. The alkaloid content naturally differs from one plant to another.
The total proportion of alkaloids that can be found in the dried leaves can vary by 0.3 to 0.7% from the alkaloid content of green leaves. Out of the total alkaloid content found in the dried leaves, the greater proportion is made up of the compound hyoscyamine, while most of the atropine is produced during the extraction process as it occurs in the roots. The other two alkaloids belladonna and apo atropine may be formed during the process of extraction from the drug and these compounds may not be found in the plant in its natural state. Compounds such as starch, scopolamine, and rosin are also found in the leaves in trace amounts.
Under the directions given by the British Pharmacopoeia, there is a note stating that leaves used to make remedies must not contain less than 0.3% of the useful alkaloids and the roots should not have an alkaloid content which is lesser than 0.45% of the total volume.
Belladonna is also made into a standardized liquid extract; this extract is used in the preparation of the official plaster, in the preparations of the alcoholic extract, in preparing liniment used in treating topical disorders, in the preparation of suppositories, and also in the preparation of the tincture and the ointment. The fresh leaves of the belladonna are used in the preparation of the green extract. Belladonna is utilized in the preparation of many kinds of remedies and traditional medications used in the treatment of many different disorders affecting various parts of the body.
When using the powdered leaves, the ideal dosage is 1 to 2 grains per dose per person. The ideal dosage regimen for one person is about 1 to 5 grains when he or she is prescribed the powdered root. A dose of 1 to 3 drops of the fluid extracted from the leaves is ideal; while the fluid extract from the roots can be taken at doses of about one-fourth to a drop per dose per person.