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Belladonna - poisonous

Roger Whitehead rgw at office-futures.com
Sun Jul 19 05:59:34 EST 1998

An interesting addition to the knowledge bank, Dick; thanks.

According to my (fairly old) MAFF bulletin, British Poisonous Plants, the 
principal ingredient in Atropa belladonna is hyoscyamine. Atropine occurs 
only in very small quantities, it says, and is made by processing hyoscamine 
from Datura metel (Horn of Plenty). Hyoscine (aka Scopolamine) also occurs, 
it continues, but again only in small amounts.

An even older Materia Medica (1891!) says that one should use either fresh or 
dried leaves (Belladonnae Folia), gathered when the fruits begin to form, or 
the dried root (Belladonnae Radix). Either way, the yield is 0.06% to 0.30% 
of atropine. Also to be found are "belladonnine, homologous with atropine, 
and probably identical with hyoscamine, daturine and duboisine". The last, it 
says, comes from an Australian plant, Duboisia myoporoides, and is used 

No doubt things have moved on since then.  8-)



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Roger Whitehead,
14 Amy Road, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0PX, England
(Tel +44 (0)1883 713074; fax +44 (0)1883 716793)

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