Belladonna is an herb that has been used for centuries for a variety of indications, including headache, menstrual symptoms, and peptic ulcer disease, inflammation, and motion sickness. The leaves of belladonna when crushed have an unacceptable odour and tastes bitter, both when fresh and dry.
Belladonna is generally used with other ergot alkaloids, barbiturates or homeopathic preparations. The name “belladonna” means “beautiful lady,” and was chosen because of a risky practice in Italy. The belladonna berry juice was used historically in Italy to enlarge the pupils of women, giving them a striking appearance. This was not a good idea, because belladonna can be poisonous.
Belladonna is also used in skin ointments for treating rheumatism or joint pain, nerve pain and sciatica. Belladonna is employed for curing hyperkinesias, which is a behaviour disorder and hyperhydrosis or excess sweating. These derivatives are mixed with Phenobarbital and Ergotamine for the usage in medicines. Depending upon scientific evidence, the ‘Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database’ evaluates herbs as Effective, Possibly Effective, Likely Ineffective and Insufficient Evidence for Rating.
But despite all the benefits, this herb is no longer used medicinally because its leaves, roots and black berries are toxic. The distilled water only of the whole herb is fittest and safest to be taken inwardly. The juice also clarified and taken, being mingled with a little vinegar is good to wash the mouth and throat that is inflamed. But outwardly the juice of the herb or berries, with oil of roses and a little vinegar and ceruse laboured together in a leaden mortar, is very good to anoint all hot inflammations in the eyes.
Belladonna has many other benefits today, though. It is popularly used to dry up fluids of the body like breast milk, perspiration, mucus and saliva. Its alkaloids can even be used to alleviate various conditions like gastrointestinal disorders.