Sunday, November 9, 2008

Datura Stramonium: Thornapple

Datura stramonium (Thornapple) is, like Henbane and Belladonna, a member of the order Solanceae. The plant is strongly narcotic, but has a peculiar action on the human frame which renders it very valuable as a medicine. The whole plant is poisonous, but the seeds are the most active; neither drying nor boiling destroys the poisonous properties. The usual consequences of the poison when taken in sufficient quantity are dimness of sight, dilation of the pupil, giddiness and delirium, sometimes amounting to mania, but its action varies greatly on different persons. Many fatal instances of its dangerous effects are recorded: it is thought to act more powerfully on the brain than Belladonna and to produce greater delirium.

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The effects of Datura have been described as a living dream: consciousness falls in and out, people who don't exist or are miles away are conversed with, etc. The effects can last for days. Tropane alkaloids are some of the few substances which cause true hallucinations which cannot be distinguished from reality. It may be described as a "real" trance when a user under the effect can be awake but completely disconnected from his immediate environment. In this case, the user would ignore most stimuli and respond to unreal ones. This is unlike psilocybin or LSD, which only cause sensory distortions.

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Datura stramonium is native to either India or Central America. It was used as a mystical sacrament in both possible places of origin. Aboriginal Americans in the United States have used this plant in sacred ceremonies. In some tribes datura was involved in the ceremonies of manhood. The sadhus of Hinduism also used datura as a spiritual tool, smoking it with cannabis in their traditional chillums. It was also widely used by the Magyar (Hungarian) spiritual leaders (the Táltos) since ancient times.

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2 comments:

Amanda said...

Around here (Oklahoma) it's called Jimson weed, and there is a yard three blocks away with a positively massive bush of it that puts forth the most wonderful flowers. It's a night-blooming plant that opens and closes irregularly all through the twilight, and the smell of its enormous white flowers is positively intoxicating. When the wind is right I can smell it half a block away or more on my nighttime walks.

I always wonder if those people know what they have in their front yard. It's a beautiful bush, very well-tended.

Fantastic stuff. I plan to plant some at our new house this spring!

LADY LAVONA said...

I would love some of the seed pods if you ever grow it!