This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAMES. Thorn-Apple, Stinkweed, Apple-peru, etc.
MEDICINAL PARTS. The leaves and seeds.
Description.--This plant is a bushy, smooth, fetid, annual plant, two or three feet in height, and in rich soil even more. The root is rather large, of a whitish color, giving off many fibres. The stem is much branched, forked, spreading, leafy, of a yellowish-green color. The leaves are large and smooth, from the forks of the stem, and are uneven at the base. The flowers are about three inches long, erect, large, and white. The fruit is a large, dry, prickly capsule, with four valves and numerous black reniform seeds. There is the Datura Tatula, or purple Stramonium, which differs from the above in having a deep purple stem, etc.
History. -- Stramonium is a well-known poisonous weed, growing upon waste grounds and road-sides, in all parts of the United States. It is found in very many parts of the world. The whole plant has a fetid, narcotic odor, which diminishes as it dries. Almost every part of the plant is possessed of medicinal properties, but the officinal parts are the leaves and seeds. The leaves should be gathered when the flowers are full-blown, and carefully dried in the shade. They impart their properties to water, alcohol, and the fixed oils. The seeds are small, reniform, compressed, roughish, dark brown or black when ripe, grayish-brown when unripe. They yield what is called Daturia, which may be obtained by exhausting the bruised seeds with boiling rectified alcohol, and then proceeding as for the active principle of other seeds of a similar character.
Properties and Uses. -- In large doses it is an energetic narcotic poison. The victims of this poison suffer the most intense agonies, and die in maniacal delirium. In medicinal doses it is an anodyne, antispasmodic, and is often used as a substitute for opium. It is used with fair effect in cases of mania, epilepsy, gastritis, delirium tremens, and enteritis; also in neuralgia, rheumatism, and all periodic pains. The dried and smoked leaves are useful in spasmodic asthma, but as there are other means much more certain to cure, and less dangerous, I, and other herbalists, seldom or never recommend them. Daturia is seldom employed in medicine, being a very active and powerful poison. I should advise my readers never to employ it, unless they be physicians; but I deemed proper to give it a place in this work, as its medicinal qualities are quite important, if its use is intrusted to proper and educated persons.