Date: 28 Jul 2009

Toxicity of Datura Stramonium

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Abstract

All Datura plants contain tropane alkaloids such as scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine, primarily in their seeds and flowers. Because of the presence of these substances, Datura has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison and hallucinogen [132, 133]. There can easily be a 5:1 variation in toxins from plant to plant, and a given plant’s toxicity depends on its age, where it is growing, and local weather conditions. These wide variations make Datura exceptionally hazardous to use as a drug. In traditional cultures, users needed to have a great deal of experience and detailed plant knowledge so that no harm resulted from using it. Such knowledge is not available in modern cultures, so many incidents result from ingesting Datura. In the 1990s and 2000s, containing stories of adolescents and young adults dying or becoming seriously ill from intentionally ingesting Datura, this explains why in some parts of Europe and India, Datura has been a popular poison for suicide and murder. From 1950 to 1965, the State Chemical Laboratories in Agra investigated 2,778 deaths that were caused by ingesting Datura [132].

Due to the potent combination of anticholinergic substances it contains, Datura intoxication typically produces effects similar to that of an anticholinergic delirium: a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (frank delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect. No other substance has received as many “Train Wreck” severely negative experience reports as has Datura. The overwhelming majority of those who describe the use of Datura (and to a lesser extent, Belladonna, Brugmansia and Brunfelsia) find their experiences extremely mentally and physically unpleasant and not infrequently physically dangerous.