This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Hyoscyamus Pharm. Paris. Henbane: a plant with soft, hairy, oblong, deeply notched leaves; and bell-shaped flowers cut into four segments, followed by irregular cup-like cap-fules, whose cover falling off discloses numerous small seeds in two.cells.
1. Hyoscyamus Pharm. Edinb. Hyoscyamus nigervel vulgaris C. B. Hyoscyamus niger, five apollinaris herba, altercum arahum Lob, Faba suilla. Hyoscyamus niger Linn. Black henbane: with large leaves joined close to the stalk; dusky coloured flowers; and greyish seeds. It is annual, grows wild in waste rich grounds, and flowers in June.
2. Hyoscyamus albus Linn, Hyoscyamus albus major vel tertius dioscoridis & quartus plinii C. B. White henbane: with smaller and woollier leaves let on pedicles; white flowers; and whitish seeds. It is annual, and a native of the southern parts of Europe.
These plants have a fetid smell, of the narcotic kind: on the organs of taste they make no considerable impresion, the leaves being little other than herbaceous, the seeds somewhat mucilaginous, and the roots sweetish. The leaves, applied externally, in the form of cata-plasm, somentation, or unguent, are said to be refrigerant, discutient, and to abate not only inflammatory but rheumatic pains. All the parts, when taken internally, though in no great quantity, prove highly narcotic, and occasion violent disorders of the senses, sometimes of long duration, and sometimes fatal. There are several instances also of the senses being strongly affected by the effluvia of the plant; and by the vapour that arises upon scorching it over the fire, which has by some been imprudently directed to be received into the mouth against tooth-achs(a). The effect of small doses, in-sufficient to do harm, are not well known. The seeds have been given from two or three grains to a scruple, and said to have proved beneficial in spittings of blood and thin sharp desluxions on the lungs, and likewise in some convulsive disorders. The present practice, however, has deservedly rejected a medicine of such suspicious qualities, and which appears to be at best but a precarious succedaneum to the products of the poppy. It is said, that the seeds are the mildest part, and the root the strongest; that the black sort is in all its parts stronger than the white; and that the seeds are the more deleterious, the more they approach to blackness. The inspisseted juice of the leaves of this species is directed as an officinal by the Edinburgh college.
(a) Vide Lindestolpe, De veneis, cap. x. thes. 20. edit. Stentzel. p. 559. Konig, Regnum vegetabile, sect. iv.p. 869. Hoyer, Acta physico-medica natura curiosorum, vol. v. obs. 69. p. 260. Hoffman, Philosopbia corporis humani morbosi, p. ii. cap. vii. § 7. Oper. omn. i. 223. Haller, & auctores ab eo citatos, Stirp. helvet. p. 513.