Agribusiness Series: The belladonna
Agribusiness Series. Belladonna, or Atropa belladonna, is one of the perennial herbaceous plants of the family Solanaceae. She is have name and also call “Belle dame”, “Cherry of the devil” or “Poison grass”. Belladonna is a poisonous plant that grows frequently along forest edges and in rubble or abandoned areas. All these parts are indeed dangerous for the man. The name “belladonna” comes from the fact that the Romans used the juice of the berries of the plant to dilate the pupil of their eyes. This application gave intensity to their eyes. “Belladonna” is thus the contraction of “bella donna” which means “beautiful lady”.
Belladonna is plant with a large branch, and whose size can reach 1.5 m. Its leaves are oval, pointed and petiolate. The flowers of the plant are bell-shape and arrange on the axils of the leaves. They are solitary and pendulous and show a brown color. The berries produced by the belladonna show a shiny black. They are big as a cherry.
Agribusiness Series: Composition of The belladonna
Tropanal alkaloids such as hyoscyamine, atropine and scopolamine are present in a massive way in the belladonna. It should be known that atropine is an optical isomer of hyoscyamine, which means that both molecules have the same chemical formula. However, some substituents of atropine have changed position relative to hyoscyamine. Thus, the first is the equivalent of the reflection of the other. These two molecules have the same toxic and pharmacological effects even if hyoscyamine is more active. Belladonna also contains a coumarin called scopoletol as well as starch and tannins.
Agribusiness Series: Toxicity of The belladonna
Atropine present in the belladonna acts on the nervous system because of its anticholinergic properties. Ingestion of the belladonna causes redness in the face, intense thirst, dryness of the mouth and mucous membranes and weakness. Belladonna intoxication can result in hallucinations, agitation and delusions. The subject may die of paralysis of the respiratory tract. It is the fruit of the plant that is most responsible for poisoning. It is important to be very careful because their appearance attracts children.
Agribusiness Series: Treatment of belladonna poisoning
When a person has been poisoned with belladonna, he must undergo gastric lavage as soon as possible. Otherwise you have to make him drink a syrup of ipéca to induce vomiting. The passage of toxic substances into the blood can be slowed by the administration of activated charcoal. If the subject is in a state of agitation, neuroleptics may be able to calm him down.
Agribusiness Series: Use of belladonna
For therapeutic purposes, the belladonna is administered for its relaxing action on the muscles. The plant manages to relieve colic, gastric pain and intestinal pain. The remedies containing belladonna also reduce night sweats and temper asthma attacks. For all these indications, the use of the plant must absolutely be done under medical supervision.