Jimson weed is an annual herb which grows up to 5 feet tall. It has a pale green stem with spreading branches. Leaves are ovate with green or purplish coloration, coarsely serrated along edges, and 3 to 8 inches long. The leaves and seeds are used to make medicine. Because of Jimson weed’s toxic properties, the custom of destroying the plant should be practiced on every farm. Animals should not be allowed to graze on sparse pasture inhabited by Jimsonweed.
Hay and silage should not be made from fields until all Jimson weed has been removed. Soybean and other grain fields infested with Jimson weed can be controlled by a variety of broadleaf herbicides. Jimson weed poisoning occurs when someone sucks the juice or eats the seeds from this plant. You can also be poisoned by drinking tea made from the leaves.
The plant has analgesic, antispasmodic, hypnotic and narcotic properties. It is hazardous in unscrupulous and unskilled hands, since overdose can be fatal. Jimson weed is a common weed along roadsides, in cornfields and pastures, and in waste areas. Plant parts can be brewed as a tea or chewed, and seed pods, commonly known as “pods” or “thorn apples,” can be eaten.
Side effects from ingesting jimson weed include tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, blurred vision, hallucinations, confusion, combative behaviour, and difficulty urinating. Severe toxicity has been associated with coma and seizures, although death is rare.
There is no antidote for this and treatment normally includes pumping the stomach and administering activated charcoal to absorb the contaminants. The drug physostigmine, a mild nerve agent and a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor obtained from the Calabar bean is used in severe cases.
There is no proven safe or effective dose for jimson weed, and use in children is not recommended. Jimson weed may cause extreme toxicity and even small amounts may cause death in children.