|Atropa belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade, is native to Europe. Drawing from 1887 edition of "Kohler's Medicinal Plants."|
“Hot as a hare, blind as a bat, dry as a bone, red as a beet and mad as a hen.”
Cross recently gave a presentation on Deadly Nightshade, as part of Emory’s Botanical Medicine and Health class taught by enthnobotanist Cassandra Quave. Click here to watch a video of her talk.
|Kurt Stuber/Wikipedia Commons|
Women mixed Deadly Nightshade and other plants together to make “flying ointments,” Cross says. “They would get together at night and have these rituals where they would experience sensations of flying and euphoria.”
Women in Venice used drops made from Deadly Nightshade to make their pupils dilate and increase the allure of their eyes. It was also used in ocular surgery during the 1800s to make it easier to remove cataracts.
Today, extracts from Deadly Nightshade are showing promise for treatment of depression and nausea, among other benefits. The plant “is on the dangerous border of very poisonous and very useful,” Cross notes.
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