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jimson weed seeds benefits

Jimson weed seeds benefits

South of the Research Building, close to the curb of the parallel parking area. (Wild)

Jimsonweed is one to five feet high, and has egg-shaped, pointed, coarsely toothed leaves that are two to eight inches long. Its white, violet or lavender funnel-shaped flowers are about two and a half to four inches long. Its fruit is a spiny pod, about two inches long, which is why it is commonly called thornapple. It can be seen from summer to fall (Newcomb 1977).

The name “Jimson weed” is a contraction of “Jamestown weed”; many soldiers and settlers in Jamestown were poisoned after eating its leaves. The effects of jimsonweed on the central nervous system have been exploited medicinally, recreationally and criminally. Long ago in India and Russia, ground-up seeds were mixed with water and used by thieves to daze victims before robbing them. The herb causes sedation, lack of will, and amnesia, so that victims were cooperative without being asleep. The Thugs, who belonged to an ancient Indian religious organization that worshiped Kali, the goddess of destruction, used the same mixture to rob and murder people (LeStrange 1977). The generic name Datura comes from dhat, the Indian term for this poison. In Europe, thornapple seeds were well-known during the Renaissance as a poison (LeStrange 1977).

In ancient times, the priests of Apollo at Delphi ingested small doses of jimsomweed leaves in order to inspire them when making prophecies (LeStrange 1977).

In China, jimsomweed was prescribed for diseases of the feet, and for its sedative effects (LeStrange 1977). Jimsonweed has also been used in China for flatulence, hyperacidity, and night sweats caused by tuberculosis (Duke 1997). Asians also used the leaves as a painkiller, a decoction for skin problems, and a powder as an inhalant for respiratory problems. In India, seeds were prescribed to relieve epilepsy and heart disease (LeStrange 1977).The dried leaves have been used in cigarettes as a treatment for asthma and bronchial complaints (Duke 2001). Datura extracts have also been added to bronchial medications (LeStrange 1977). In Europe, the dried leaves were as a treatment for asthma and cough (the anticholinergics in thornapple would be expected to have a beneficial effect on asthma – see current medicinal uses). The treatment was occasionally fatal (LeStrange 1977).

Mexican Indians ingested a leaf decoction to relieve childbirth pains (later, scopolamine was used for this purpose – see current medicinal use).

In Europe, thornapple seeds and extracts were used to treat mania, seizures, melancholy, rheumatism, and madness (Lewis 1977). Thornapple was also prescribed as an anodyne (painkiller), an antispasmodic, and to treat seizures, delirium tremens, neuralgia, and rheumatism (LeStrange 1977).

In Britain, an ointment made of thornapple juice boiled in lard was used to treat inflammation and burns (LeStrange 1977).The juice from the fruit has been used in an effort to prevent hair loss, while the juice from the flowers was used for earache. A leaf poultice of jimsonweed leaves has been used to treat cancer. Costa Ricans gargle a concoction for sore throat (Duke 2001).

Current Medicinal Uses
All parts of the thornapple contain tropane alkaloids, the active compounds, but only the leaves and seeds have been recognized officially as drugs in pharmacopoeias (Grieve 1998). Thornapple contains scopolamine (also called hyoscine), (-) hyoscyamine, and atropine (± hyoscyamine), the racemic form of hyoscyamine); the leaf contains 0.2-0.45% of these anticholinergic alkaloids (Dewick 1997).

Scopolamine and hyoscyamine have been widely used in medicine; they have antispasmodic effects on the gastrointestinal tract, antisecretory effects that have been used to control salivary salivation during surgery, and mydriatic effects (causing dilation of the pupils) that facilitate ophthalmic exams. Scopolamine is a central nervous system depressant used as a sedative; until the 1950s it was used to induce “twilight sleep” and amnesia in women undergoing childbirth. Scopolamine is currently used as an antimotion sickness agent (it is usually administered as a transdermal patch, which causes less dry mouth than oral administration) (Dewick 1997). Atropine is also used as an antidote to poisoning caused by cholinesterase inhibitors or organophosphate insecticides.

Jimsonweed has been suggested as an antidote in case of a bioterrorism attack using nerve-paralyzing agents. An experiment in mice found that pretreatment with a datura seed infusion increased survival in mice exposed to organophosphates (Bania 2004). 100 seeds contain approximately 6 mg of atropine.

Adverse Effects
Jimsonweed is poisonous. Datura has been used as a recreational drug but is very dangerous; fatalities have been reported (Boumba 2004).

Jimsonweed poisoning may cause tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, blurred vision, hallucinations, confusion, combative behavior, and difficulty urinating. Later signs include coma and seizures, although death is rare. Poisonings are treated with activated charcoal and gastric lavage; beta-blockers may be employed for severe sinus tachycardia (Dewitt 1997). Physostigmine, an anticholinesterase inhibitor, may be used to treat severe symptoms such as life-threatening arrhythmias. However, an analysis of jimsonweed poisonings (which found that poisoning occurred with ingestion of as few as seven seeds) concluded that neither nasogastric recovery of seeds nor use of physostigmine decreased the need for intensive care. Neither intervention shortened hospital stay (Salen 2003).

Bania TC, Chu J, Bailes D, O’Neill M. Jimson weed extract as a protective agent in severe organophosphate toxicity. Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Apr;11(4):335-8.

Boumba VA, Mitselou A, Vougiouklakis T. Fatal poisoning from ingestion of Datura stramonium seeds.Vet Hum Toxicol. 2004 Apr;46(2):81-2.

Dewick PM. Medicinal natural products: a biosynthetic approach. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, 1997:274-278.

Dewitt MS, Swain R, Gibson LB Jr. The dangers of jimson weed and its abuse by teenagers in the Kanawha Valley ofWest Virginia. W V Med J. 1997 Jul-Aug;93(4):182-5.

Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2001. (pp. 161-162)

Foster S, Duke JA. Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1990. (p. 20)

Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Tiger Books International, London, 1998 (first published in 1931 by Jonathan Cape Ltd):804-805.

Le Strange, R. A History of Herbal Plants. Arco Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1977. (pp. 99-100)

Lewis WH , Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man’s Health. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1977. (pp. 167, 296, 300)

Newcomb L. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1977. (p. 214)

Salen P, Shih R, Sierzenski P, Reed J. Effect of physostigmine and gastric lavage in a Datura stramonium-induced anticholinergic poisoning epidemic. Am J Emerg Med. 2003 Jul;21(4):316-7.

Information on this website is for educational purposes only. Many herbs historically used for medicine are considered too toxic to use today; some of these herbs have caused deaths. Do not ingest these herbs based on information on this website. We have not provided sufficient information for the safe medicinal use of any of these herbs, nor sufficient information for treatment of poisoning. All recreational use of these herbs is dangerous.

The Medicinal Significance of Datura stramonium: A Review

Datura stramonium is commonly known as thorn apple belongs to familySolanaceae. Itis a wild plant havingvarious medicinal and pharmacological properties.Alkaloids, atropine, scopolamine, tannin, saponin,glycosides, phenol, sterols, lignin, fats, carbohydrates andproteins are different compounds present in Datura. Daturastramonium have antiepileptic, anti-asthmatic, analgesic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, insecticidal, repellent and organophosphate protective effects. The present review is focused on the phytochemical and pharmacological studies of the Datura stramonium.

Keywords: Datura Stramonium; Medicinal Plant; Phytochemistry; Pharmacological Activities; Traditional Uses


Datura stramonium (DS) is an annual plant belongs to the family Solanaceae. It originates in the America but is found around the world including North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa [1]. Datura stramonium is a foul smelling, erect, free branching herb that forms a bush up to 2-5 feet tall. The root is long thick, fibrous and white. It has simple or bifurcated round, erect, glabrous stem. The leaves are 8-20cm long, smooth, toothed, soft and irregularly undulated. The leaves have a bitter and nauseating taste, which is imparted to extracts of the herbs and remains even after the leaves have been dried. Flowers are large, white, solitary and terminal. Fruit is 5cm long, four valvecapsules, which is densely thorny and walnut sized. At maturity it splits into four chambers, eachwith dozens of seeds. Seeds are long, flat, reniform and black [2-7].The genus Datura comprises all the nightshades and agricultural plants including potato, S. tuberosum, Lycopersicon, Coffeaarabica and pepper. Classification of different species within Datura genus relies heavily on genetic markers, which suggest that this genus has huge variation due to mutation [8-10].

Datura stramonium has long been known for its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. It was dried and smoked for hallucination and total relaxation [1,11]. It is toxic when consumed improperly. Accidental poisoning of humans and animals, who consume food sources contaminated with D. stramonium has been reported. In areas where millet, wheat, rye, corn and bean seeds are used for human consumption and where D. stramonium is a common weed, the grain sometimes has been contaminated with Datura seeds. The large amount of Datura affects the central nervous system with symptoms such as confusion, bizarrebehavior, hallucinations and subsequent amnesia [12-13]. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the possible pharmacological and toxicological effects of D. stramonium is needed. The review presents the major medicinal uses of Datura stramonium, discovered through last many years of research in animals and human subjects as well as in the other experimental studies.

Traditional Use of Datura Stramonium

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that four billion people, about 80% of the world’s population presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Plants generally produce many secondary metabolites which were constituted an important source of many pharmaceutical drugs [20-21]. In Ayurvedic medicine, D. stramonium is described as a useful remedy for various human ailments including ulcers, wounds, inflammation, rheumatism and gout, sciatica, bruises and swellings, fever, asthma, bronchitis and toothache. Many folk medicine remedies use D. stramonium therapeutically [22]. The juice of the leaves in warm milk was used to expel intestinal worms including cestodes, seeds with palm oil used externally for insect bites and stings insects. When the leaves of Datura stramonium mixed with mustard oil then it is useful in skin disorders. Juice of flower petals is used in ear pain and seeds are used as purgative, in cough, fever and asthma. Seeds are smoked due to its narcotic action [23-24]. In Western Nepal, leaves of Datura along with the leaves of Cannabis sativa and stem of Neopicrorhizascrofulariflora, are pounded with water and applied to treat headaches. Datura seeds are crushed with grains of rice and taken orally to relief in indigestion. In parts of Central Nepal fresh leaves are warmed and placed on a sprained body part repeatedly, before going to bed, for the alleged analgesic effect. In India, seeds are used as a tonic and febrifuge. The leaves are roasted and applied locally to relieve pain [25]. Native Americans used Datura seeds for many years as a euphoric agent. Since the 1800s, it was used as a therapeutic agent in Great Britain [26].

Pharmacological Activities

Organophosphate Poisoning (OP)

DS contains atropine and other anticholinergic compounds and it is very useful remedy for the central cholinergic symptoms of OP. Bania et al [27] reported the beneficial effects of DS seed extracts following a severe OP. According to their experiment, DS seeds were heated in water to make 2mg/ml atropine solution and administrated to male rats as a single intraperitoneal injection 5min before the subcutaneous injection of 25mg/kg of dichlorvos. Pretreatment with Datura seed extract significantly increased survival in a rat model of severe OP.

Antiepileptic Effects

According to Peredery and Persinger[28], rats were continuously administrated one of 3 herbal treatments S. lateriflora, G. sempervirens and D. stramonium through water supply for 30 days, one week after the induction of status epilepticus by a single injection of lithium (3mEq/kg)and pilocarpine (30g/kg). Thenumber of spontaneous seizures per day during a 15min observation interval was recorded for each rat during the treatment period and during an additional 30 days when only tap water was given. Rats that received a weak solution of the three herbal fluid extracts displayed no seizures during treatment. However, when this treatment was removed, the rats displayed numbers of spontaneous seizures comparable to the controls.

Antimicrobial Activity

The methanol extracts of aerial part of DS showed the bactericidal activity against gram positive bacteria in a dose dependent manner [29]. Sharma et al. [30], suggested that DS was very effective as vibriocidal against various strains of Vibreo cholera and Vibreo parahaemolyticus. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of acetone extracts of DS was in the range of 2.5-15 mg/ml serving as broad spectrum vibriocidal agents.

Anti-Asthmatic Activity

Analgesic Activity

The analgesic effect of alcoholic Datura seed was evaluated in acute and chronic pain using hot plate and formalin tests. The extracts when intraperitonealy administrated to the animals, they, dose dependently alleviated the pain, and ED50 was 25 and 50mg/ kg in hot plate and formalin tests, respectively [33].

Antifungal Activity

According to Mdee et al. [34], the fungicidal effects of the acetone extracts indicate the potential of DS seeds as a natural source of antifungal agent. The MIC of DS extracts ranges from 1.25- 2.50mg/ml.

Anticancer Activity

Infertility in Women

Datura flowers are effective treatment of infertility in women. The dried powder of Datura flowers in dosage of 120 mg is given with honey 10 days after menstruation. It is given for 5 to 7 days. This remedy is effective in infertility of unknown reason [36].

Insecticidal Activity

Datura plant generates a characteristic odor that acts as repellent for various insects and pests. Kurnal, et al. [37] have reported that the ethanol extracts of D. stramonium leaf and seed showed potent acaricidal, repellent, and oviposition deterrent activity against adult two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychusurticae) under laboratory conditions. Leaf and seed extracts which were applied in 167.25 and 145.75g/L concentrations (using a Petri leaf disc-spray tower method), caused 98% and 25% mortality among spider mite adults after 48h, respectively. These results suggest that D. stramonium could be used to manage the two-spotted spider mite.


DS is generally administrated at a dose of 60-185mg powder for leaf and 60-120mg powder for seed [38].


Plants are used as for food, shelter, fiber, tan, gum, oil, latex etc. They are rich source of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, due to this; they also contributed immunomodulatory effect. This review concluded that Datura stramonium is a wild plant having various medicinal and pharmacological properties and these properties exploited for cancer, rheumatism, ear pain, headache, wound, burn, stress, depression, insomnia, asthma, boils, and inflammation. Datura stramonium, exhibits pharmacological effect and prepared as herbal or botanical drugs by pharmaceutical industries for many diseases, but not used in native form because of its lethal effect.