Robust annual growing to 3 ft (1 m). Has lobed oval leaves, long white or violet trumpet-shaped flowers, and spiny fruit capsules.
Habitat & Cultivation
Thornapple grows in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is cultivated for medicinal use in Hungary, France, and Germany. The leaves and flowering tops are harvested in summer, and the seeds in early autumn when the capsules burst.
Leaves, flowering tops, seeds.
Thornapple contains 0.2–0.45% tropane alkaloids (especially hyoscyamine and hyoscine), flavonoids, steroidal lactones, withanolides, coumarins, and tannins. The tropane alkaloids are similar to those found in deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), acting to reduce secretions and relax smooth muscle.
History & Folklore
Thornapple has a long history of medicinal use. If taken in sufficient doses, it causes hallucinations; the Delphic oracle in ancient Greece and the Inca in South America may have used it as an aid to making prophecies. Though it is hallucinogenic, thornapple has traditionally been used to treat insanity.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
At low doses, thornapple is a common remedy for asthma, whooping cough, muscle spasms, and the symptoms of Parkinsonism. It relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal, bronchial, and urinary tracts, and reduces digestive and mucous secretions. Like deadly nightshade, thornapple may be applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains and neuralgia.
D. metel and D. innoxia are both native to India. These plants are employed in treating asthma, coughs, fevers, and skin conditions.
Take only under professional supervision. Since it is toxic at more than small doses, thornapple is subject to legal restrictions in most countries.