Datura stramonium

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Datura stramonium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Datura
Species: D. stramonium
Binomial name
Datura stramonium
  • Datura inermis Juss. ex Jacq.
  • Datura stramonium var. chalybea W. D. J. Koch, nom. illeg.
  • Datura stramonium var. tatula (L.) Torr.
  • Datura tatula L.[1]

Datura stramonium, known by the common names augushka, jimson weed, ditch weed, stink weed, loco weed, Korean morning glory, Jamestown weed, thorn apple, angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, devil's snare, devil's seed, mad hatter, crazy tea, malpitte, and, along with Datura metel (zombie cucumber) is a common weed in the Nightshade Family. It contains tropane alkaloids that are sometimes used as a hallucinogen. The active ingredients are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths, are reported from recreational use.

Datura stramonium is an erect annual herb growing into a bush up to 7 ft. high. It has a pungent nut-like smell that becomes stronger if any part it is crushed or even touched. The leaves are soft, irregularly undulate, and toothed. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 in. long. They rarely open completely. The egg-shaped seed capsule is walnut-sized and either covered with spines or bald. At maturity it splits into four chambers, each with dozens of small black seeds.

The plant originated in North America, and was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. It was rapidly spread by human activity. Today, it grows wild in all the world's warm and moderate regions. In Europe, it is found as a weed on wastelands and in garbage dumps.[2] The genus was derived from "datura", an ancient Sanskrit word for the plant. Stramonium is originally from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).[3]


[edit] Toxicity

All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets. Some municipalities prohibit the purchase, sale, or cultivation of Datura plants.[2] For further information on this subject, see the article on Datura.

[edit] Effects

Blooming Datura

There is a mnemonic device for the physiological effects of datura/atropine intoxication: "blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as a beet, hot as hell, dry as a bone, the bowel and bladder lose their tone, and the heart runs alone." Another rhyme describing its effects is, "Can't see, can't spit, can't pee, can't shit." Regarding Datura, among the Navajo is the folk admonition, "Eat a little, and go to sleep. Eat some more, and have a dream. Eat some more, and don't wake up." The actual effects are reported to be cycloplegia and mydriasis (extreme dilation of the pupil), flushed, warm and dry skin, dry mouth, urinary retention and ileus (slowing or stopping of intestinal movement), tachycardia, hypertension or hypotension, and choreoathetosis/jerky movements. In case of overdose the effects are hyperthermia, coma, respiratory arrest[citation needed], and seizures. The vast majority of atropine-poisoning cases are accompanied by delirium with visual and auditory hallucinations.[citation needed]

The effects of Datura have been described as a living dream: consciousness falls in and out, people who don't exist or are miles away are conversed with, etc. The effects can last for days. Tropane alkaloids are some of the few substances which cause true hallucinations which cannot be distinguished from reality. It may be described as a "real" trance when a user under the effect can be awake but completely disconnected from his immediate environment. In this case, the user would ignore most stimuli and respond to unreal ones. This is unlike psilocybin or LSD, which only cause sensory distortions.[citation needed]

If taken recreationally and the user does not notice any conscious effects, many people redose thinking it's not working, which is why overdoses are common. The user doesn't realize that he or she was hallucinating. Some users have reported seeing an array of people from their lives. A few anecdotal reports also mention the user's perception of "phantom cigarettes"; the person believes that he or she is smoking a cigarette only to find that it has disappeared later, thus realizing that it never existed. This hallucination is reported among both smokers and non-smokers.[4] There have been reports of the user interacting with other unreal objects also, such as looking down and seeing a cigarette lighter in one's hand and then dropping it, and after a minute or two of searching, the user often realizes that this lighter or any other unreal object never existed. Returning to "reality" from datura-induced hallucinations is often coupled with momentary disorientation. At the peak of such experiences users often enter a true psychotomimetic state, in which they "lose touch with reality" altogether; at this point, many find it difficult or impossible to communicate with others.[citation needed]

A majority of users who have written reports on experiences with datura have described those experiences as unpleasant and sometimes terrifying. This is possibly due to their having taken excessive doses. The powerful effects of Datura continue until the body metabolizes the tropane alkaloids.[citation needed]

Scopolamine is the primary hallucinogen in Datura wrightii from California and other Daturas. Scopolamine can be slowly and erratically absorbed into the brain. In most people, scopolamine reaches the brain within an hour or so after ingestion and causes visual and auditory hallucinations. In about 25% of people, scopolamine is very slowly absorbed into the brain, taking up to 13 hours to enter the brain. These are the people who are at the highest risk of overdosing. They become impatient waiting for the recreational high and take more of the plant extract.[citation needed]

[edit] History


Datura stramonium is native to either India or Central America. It was used as a mystical sacrament in both possible places of origin. Aboriginal Americans in the United States have used this plant in sacred ceremonies. In some tribes datura was involved in the ceremonies of manhood. The sadhus of Hinduism also used datura as a spiritual tool, smoking it with cannabis in their traditional chillums. It was also widely used by the Magyar (Hungarian) spiritual leaders (the Táltos) since ancient times. There is a Hungarian phrase "Nem veszem be ezt a maszlagot" (I will not eat Datura stramonium), meaning "you cannot fool me".

In the United States it is called jimson weed, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers were drugged with it while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. They spent eleven days generally appearing to have gone insane:

The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed. – The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705[5]

There was a time when stramonium, a drug obtained from the leaves and seeds of Datura stramonium, was used medicinally (Herbalgram). The alkaloid was known as daturine. From the seeds was made extractum stramonii. The tinctura stramonii was made from the leaves. Stramonium was used to relax the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes, and thus it was used to treat an asthmatic's bronchial spasm. Cigarettes were made of stramonium leaves which could be smoked; or the tincture was taken internally. Frequently the leaves were powdered together with equal quantities of the leaves of Cannabis and Lobelia mixed with potassium nitrate, and were burned in an open dish. The preparation was reported to give off dense fumes which afforded great relief to the asthmatic paroxysm. Around the turn of the century numerous patent "cures" for asthma contained these ingredients in varying proportions. Daturine was also used to treat acute mania as hyoscyamine was said to produce sleep. Because of the dangers of tropane poisoning, datura is not used medicinally today, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed it to be unfit for human consumption. However, atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine are FDA approved drugs that are used every day for a variety of conditions.

The antidote of choice for overdose or poisoning is physostigmine. [1]

[edit] See also


[edit] References

  1. ^ "Datura stramonium information from NPGS/GRIN". http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?13323. Retrieved on 2008-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b Preissel, Ulrike; Hans-Georg Preissel (2002). Brugmansia and Datura: Angel's Trumpets and Thorn Apples. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. pp. 124–125. ISBN 1-55209-598-3. http://www.amazon.com/Brugmansia-Datura-Angels-Trumpets-Apples/dp/1552095584. 
  3. ^ "Jimsonweed". holoweb.com. http://www.holoweb.com/cannon/jimsonwe.htm. Retrieved on 2008-12-14. 
  4. ^ "Datura Basics". 2008-08-21. http://www.erowid.org/plants/datura/datura_basics.shtml. Retrieved on 2008-09-10. 
  5. ^ Beverley, Robert. "Book II: Of the Natural Product and Conveniencies in Its Unimprov'd State, Before the English Went Thither". The History and Present State of Virginia, In Four Parts (University of North Carolina): pp. Book II Page 24. http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/beverley/beverley.html. Retrieved on 2008-12-15. 
  • Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 312-313.
  • Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium) Poisoning From Clinical Toxicology Review Dec 1995, Vol 18 (No 3). Reprinted at erowid.com.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

[edit] External links

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