Atropha belladonna and its Medicinal Uses-A Short Review


J. Rubika

Saveetha Dental College and Hospital, No.162, Poonamalle High road,Chennai-600077,Tamilnadu,India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:




For thousands of years human being are using the resources of flora for the treatment of various diseases.    Now days, Atropha belladonna is a very important plant in the science and the medical field due of its chemical content. Atropha belladonna is a extremely poisonous perennial herb. It belongs from the family Solannacae. The generic name of Atropha belladonna is deadly nightshade. It is main source for the drug” Atropine”. They have the toxic nature due to the alkaloids including scopolamine and hyoscyamine. Few people say Atropha’s berry is sweet and some people say its bitter tasting, but all agree that the size is like the common cherry. The entire plant is a very nauseating odor for ssome people. These are used in many fields like science, medicinal and in cosmetic industry. This plant need rich, moist soil, lot of fertilizer and environment should be free from weed. Mostly used as medicine for skin wound healing, in surgeries, for relieving muscular pain, to dilate the pupils, to cure  brain and  nerve diseases, whooping cough, asthma, neuralgia, sciatica, gout, etc,. This was used in cardiology before the introduction of coronary care units for the treatment of bradycardia and heart block after myocardial infarction. Belladonna has been used today to cure a number of medical problems. This article describes about the medicinal uses Atropha belladonna.


KEYWORDS: Atropha belladonna, solannaceae, deadly nightshade, atropine, scopolamine, hyoscyamine, medicinal uses.



Above thousands of years the herbal plants are playing a vital role in the health care and prevention of diseases. Nowadays, there is a great demand for the herbal medicines in the developed countries and in the developing countries for the several treatments due to their wide biological and medicinal activities (27).Traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurveda medicine and the Tibetan Amichi medical system are some medicinal methods that are gained modern popularity (30). Atropha belladonna is a poisonous plant. Theophrastus named the plant Atropha belladonna. It is defined as deadly nightshade. It is also called as “Mandrogora of Theophrastus”. English name of Atropha belladonna is Dwaule. The origin of dwaule is Dutch and it’s meaning is delirious (1). In Italian belladonna means “Beautiful lady”. It is a perennial herb and one of most important species (2).


Belladonna is the member of “Sollanacae” (3). They are the vital source of pharmaceutical tropane alkaloids in the Solanacae family.    



Atropha belladonna is found in the United states, Europe, North Africa and Western Asia (4).The belladonna grows under the shadow of the trees and on the hills. They grow under the natural conditions (5).

Morphology of Atropha belladonna:

The height of the plant Atropha belladonna is about two to six feet in measurement(2).It has a thick, fleshy, whitish and branched  root. It is made  up of five lobed calyx. The leaves of this plant are simple, dark greenish in colour,  ovate and alternate in nature. Beries are more toxic in nature (Figure 1 and 2). It has purplish coloured stem. Finally it’s flowers are in solitary bell shape (Figure 3 and 4). The flowering time is June to September. The toxic alkaloids are present in the seeds(6).


Figure 1



KINGDOM:      Plantae 

ORDER   :          Sonales                                                        

FAMILY :         Solannaceae

GENUS :          Atropha

SPICIES :         Atropha Belladonna

BINOMIAL NAME - Atropha Belladonna  


USES OF Atropha belladonna:

Many of us know that the Atropha belladonna have atropine, scopolamine, hyoscyamine. Due to the chemical content of  belladonna, this is considered as a valuable plant and  is widely used in the science and in the medical field(7).


Romans used these plants in surgeries. They also used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both were rumored to have used it for  murder) and predating this, it was used to make poison –tipped arrows (1).            


The ointment that contains a fatty base and various herbal extracts ,usually including solanaceous herbs that contain the alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine. When applied to the skin the alkaloids are absorbed more slowly into the body Atropha belladonna and henbane  was applied on the skin for made the patient  unconscious(8).


They are used in the treatment of psychiatric disorder and for excessive sweating. The antiviral activities of atropine is the important one. The multiplication of enveloped  virus is inhibited by the atropine(9).

 Atropine which is a drug derived from Atropha belladonna is used for relieving muscular pain. It helps muscle in the gut to relax. This reduces involuntary contractions and spasms of the muscle. Atropine works by blocking receptors called muscarinic receptors that are fond on the surface of the muscle cells in the wall of the gut (10).


The leaves in first year are larger than those of older plants.  Tip of the leaves are used as curvy for the worms. This treatment is specially for the children. The leaves are also used as drug in the medical field through the tissue culture the cloning of Atropha belladonna are done. It’s root, stem, leaves all are used in herbal drugs (11).To help bring relief from spasmodic asthma cigarette made from the leaves of the belladonna are occasionally given to the patients.


Even nowadays also, the ophthalmologists used the atropine to dilate the pupils during the examination of retina of the patient. By blocking the muscarinic receptors in the eye, atropine causes the pupil to dilate. It also temporarily paralyses the muscle that normally changes the shape of the lens so that the eyes can focus on an image. Atropine relaxes the lens so eye examination can be carried out thoroughly. They are often used to aid eye examinations in young children (12)(16)(17)  (Figure 8).


Scopolamine and hyoscyamine are similar to the atropine. Hyocyamine is a tropane alkaloid. It is found in certain plants of the solanaceae family, including henbane, mandrake tomato and deadly nightshade(13).


Belladonna have a sedative effect and gives the relaxation in the smooth muscles of the body. It also have a very effective action on the circulation in the body, and it is usually given in cases of pulmonary collapse during pneumonia and also used in typhoid fever(17).


For the in vitro cultivation and preservation, elucidation of reproductive pathways of Atropha belladonna gives vital information for the development of reproductive success of studied population.(18)(19)


Homeopathic practitioners in the symptoms of encephalitis are used the belladonna plant. 


Figure 2

C.V. Boenninghausen, who is a veterinary doctor and homeopathic practitioner found the belladonna 200 in 1843, which is the medicine for the experiments with mice.


Figure 3


Figure 4


Atropha belladonna is very useful for the patients with cerebral congestion. This herbal plant cures the diseases of nerve and brain that are known by the symptoms of headache, drowsiness, delirium, dilated pupils and double sight(20).


Belladonna  is also used in plasters. It is sometimes used as a plaster to treat cases of neuralgia, gout, rheumatism and sciatica in a person affected by such disorders. A plaster of remedy applied to the chest over the cardiac region will help eliminate pain and distress felt by the patient. Plasters made from the belladonna are applied on the site of external injury (15).


Drugs obtained from Atropha belladonna:    

From the Atropa belladonna many drugs are produced. Few drugs are mentioned here.

Disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). –For Rheumatism

Analgesics (painkillers).

The tropane alkaloid scopolamine is a medicinally important anticholinegic drug. Scopolamine is used as the hydrobromide salt for GI complaints and motion sickness, and to potentiate the analgesic and anxiolytic effects of opioid analgesics.It is formerly used in a painkiller called “Twilight sleep”(Figure 5) in childbirth.(21)


Figure 5

 Donnatal (Figure 6 and7) is a prescription pharmaceutical, approved in the United States by the FDA, that combines natyral belladonna alkaloids in the specific fixed ratio with phenobarbital to provide pheripheral anticholinergic/ antispasmodic action and mild sedation(22)


Figure 6


Figure 7

It is used for the treatment of bronchial spasms in asthma, whooping cough and cold and fever(14). The ointments of belladonna is  prepared for join pain  (rheumatism), leg pain (sciatica) and nerve pain neuralgia. It is also used to cure Parkinson’s disease.(15)


Figure 8



In South East Asia, Garcinia mangostana Linn is used as a phytomedicine for trauma, diahorrea and skin infections.(23)  The pericarps of G. mangostana is widely used as a traditional medicine for diarrhea, skin infection and chronic wounds (23). Extract from the  pericarp of G. mangostona is demonstrating the antimicrobial activity against the microorganisms(24).    


Glycyrrhiza glabra,( family Fabaceae) otherwise known as liquorice, is used as a drug for treatment of upper respiratory ailments and for coughs hoarseness, sore throat (26).


Extract powder of Garcinia mangostana at different concentrations are tested against                    Staphylococcus  albus, Micrococcus lutus(24).


Some herbal plants turmeric are used in foods for its flavor and  as an anti-inflammatory and for several treatments like flatulence, jaundice, hematuria, hemorrhage and colic(28).


Acacia catechu Willd (Family: Fabaceae and subfamily: Mimosoideae.) is a medicinal plant. The extracts from this plant several  pharmacological effects like antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antidiarrhoeal, hepatoprotective and antimicrobial activities(29).   


Jatropha curcas Linn (Family: Euphorbiaceae); Leaves are  antiparasitc, applied for scabies; cures paralysis, rheumatism and applied to hard tumours. Leaves show antileukemic activity(25).  


Equisetum arvense is one of the ancient herbal remedies and it is  famous for its several varieties of therapeutic properties(31).


By these information we can know Atropha belladonna is one of the important medicinal plants. They are used in both the allopathy and the siddha medicine. Present and future researchers are in interest to find number of useful medicines from the herbal plants. We must know about these plants and use it in a fine way.



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Received on 08.04.2014                Modified on 01.06.2014

Accepted on 10.06.2014                © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 7(8): August  2014  Page 926-930