Atropa belladonna

Atropa belladonna

The belladonna (Atropa belladonna L.) is a flowering plant belonging to the Solanaceae family.

Systematics –
The belladonna, from the systematic point of view, belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Order Solanales, Family Solanaceae and then to the Genus Atropa and the A. Belladonna Species.

Etymology –
The term Atropa derives from the Greek Ἄτροπος Átropos (in no way, the immutable, the inevitable); Atropo was in fact the name of one of the three Moire who, in Greek mythology, cuts the thread of life of mortals (because it is a very poisonous plant); the epithet bella-donna refers to the cosmetic use of the plant that was used by the courtesans of Venice as eye drops, to provoke the dilatation of the pupil.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The belladonna grows sporadically in mountainous and submontane areas up to an altitude of 1400 meters, especially on calcareous soils and on the edge of shady woods, like beech woods. We find it in the wild in Central Europe, in North Africa and in Western Asia up to Pakistan.

Description –
The Atropa belladonna is a perennial herbaceous species, with a large rhizome and robust stem. It can reach a height between 70 and 150 cm. It has simple, petiolate and oval-lanceolate leaves that alternate with smaller leaves in the upper area; both the leaves and the stem are covered with glandular hairs that are responsible for the unpleasant odor of the plant. belladona blooms in the summer and pollination is entomogama; from these develop small shiny black berries surrounded by the goblet which, when ripe, opens like a star. Remember that the berries are poisonous to humans until they can cause death.

Cultivation –
The Atropa belladonna is rarely cultivated at an amateur level, both for its toxicity and for its low aesthetic value. Instead it is grown intensively for its extracts from the pharmaceutical, phytotherapic and homeopathic industry. For the cultivation technique consult the following sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
The Atropa belladonna has been used since time immemorial by doctors, in phytotherapy, for its spasmolytic qualities. The active ingredient of the plant is atropine or DL-giusciamina. Atropine is still used today as a pupil dilator and as a muscle relaxant. In homeopathy, belladonna pills are used for pharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, tracheobronchitis and tonsillitis, influenza fever, infantile fever with high fever, violent vasomotor headache, pulsating, local inflammatory processes with redness, swelling, intense and radiant heat, acute pain , violent and pulsating, attacks of delirium, hypersensitivity to noise and bright light.

Preparation Mode –
Belladonna preparations are obviously relegated to the chemical pharmaceutical field.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

 




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