Datura stramonium is one of a group of herbs known as ‘witches’ weeds’ that are well known for their hallucinogenic properties, and all have been used by shamans in various ceremonies and medicinal applications for thousands of years. Datura, or devil’s trumpet, has received attention from the medical community for its potential use as a treatment for asthma, and many studies have been performed in order to test the effectiveness of this potent herb. Although initial trials have indicated that inhaling the smoke of the burning leaves, sticks, and seeds may prove beneficial to asthma sufferers, use of the herb must be strictly supervised by a medical practitioner. Possible side effects of smoke inhalation include dizziness, delirium, severe hallucinations, and even death, so caution must be exercised when using datura as a medicine.
What Are the Benefits of Datura as a Medicinal Herb?
A study published in the US National Library of Medicine found that giving datura cigarettes to 12 asthmatic patients resulted in significant specific airway (sRAW) resistance in 11 of those patients. The study indicated that “In 11 patients sRaw decreased substantially after the cigarette, the mean maximal decrease being 40% at the 30th minute.” The study found datura to be a more powerful medicine than salbutamol, one of the most common medications given to asthma sufferers. Datura contains many tropane alkaloids including atropine and scopolamine which block the muscarinic receptors, and alleviate the symptoms of asthma. These alkaloids can also cause anticholinergic poisoning, so the treatment should never be attempted in the home without medical supervision.
Healing Effects from Datura
As well as respiratory conditions, datura is said to help with many other health problems including cardiac disorders, impotency, baldness, and is even said to be a powerful treatment for malaria. It can be used as a topical ointment to treat certain conditions, or even boiled as a tea and taken orally. More research is needed into the effects of datura on other medical conditions, and those wishing to try datura as a medicine should conduct thorough research into its potential benefits for their individual condition before taking it.
Datura as a Homeopathic Remedy — Stramonium
Datura, or Stramonium, is also used as a homeopathic remedy to treat episodes of rage and violence, particularly in children. It is often used as an alternative treatment for ADHD, and is a far safer option than the pharmaceuticals usually prescribed by doctors for this condition. The use of Datura stramonium as a cure for mental disorders was first hypothesized by Anton von Störck, an Austrian physician, who felt that the manic episodes it could potentially produce in healthy patients could have the opposite effect on those who already suffered from similar symptoms. A passage written in 1976 states that “Homeopathic Stramonium produces symptoms of madness in a healthy person, would it not be desirable to make experiments in order to discover whether this plant, by its effects on the brain, in changing the ideas and the state of the sensorium, and if, by the change which homeopathic Stramonium would cause in those who suffer from convulsions, by putting them in a contrary state to that in which they were, would it not cause their cure?” The use of Datura as a homeopathic remedy should always be supervised by a trained homoeopath, to ascertain the proper dosage and potency.
How Dangerous Are Datura Side Effects?
There have been many accounts of the effects of datura as a hallucinogen over the years, and its use has been well-documented in Ayurvedic medicine, which is one of the oldest forms of Indian medicine. Many experienced users of hallucinogens have reported negative experiences when attempting to use datura recreationally, and it is known as one of the most powerful forms of psychoactive substances. Many users report the complete inability to distinguish between real life and fantasy, and its effects send users into a complete state of delirium often resulting in violent, unpredictable behavior. Most people experience amnesia after the effects have worn off, and it may take up to a week to recover from a datura ‘trip’.
Although it is said to have almost magical healing properties, it is a form of poison that can have serious effects on a person’s psychological state. The US Department of Agriculture states that “Datura intoxication typically produces a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia (increased heart-rate); bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis (pupil dilation) with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days.” It also has an extremely high toxicity level that can prove fatal even in small doses. Those wishing to try datura as a treatment for asthma must seek out a medical center that offers the therapy in a safe, closely supervised environment. Even though the health benefits of this particular herb are irrefutable, its use can have severe consequences that can impact a person’s psychology for a long time after its medicinal benefits have worn off.
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