This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
The Solanaceae are prominent in medicine. So-lanum Dulcamara, Bittersweet, is separately considered. See "Dulcamara." Other Solanaceae separately described are " Hyoscyamus," "Stramonium," "Capsicum," "Belladonna," tobacco under "Lobelia," and certain species under "Pimenta" and "Piper."
The common Potato, Solanum tuberosum, yields a starch official in four countries. The Tomato, Lycopersicum, is antiscorbutic and is recommended in the treatment of rheumatism. The Egg Plant, S. melongena, carries an acrid juice. Physalis alka-kengi, Ground Cherry, as well as Physalis Pennsylvania, are destitute of narcotic properties, but are tonic and febrifuge and have had quite a vogue in Europe in the treatment of intermittents. Solanum nigrum, Nightshade, is official in France, Mexico, and Spain, and is used much as is belladonna.
Solanum Carolinense, Horse-nettle, requires separate mention. Thrush, in Phil. Med. Jour., stated that it contains Solanine and Solanidine, both antispasmodics. He recommended the drug in the treatment of epilepsy, giving full doses. Some drowsiness and stupor is produced by full dosage. Other conditions in which solanum has been successfully used as an antispasmodic are: hysteria, eclampsia, chorea, neuralgia, spasmodic asthma, and whooping cough.
As solanine depresses the terminal motor plates and narcotizes the medulla and cord (Desnos), there is justification in the use of solanum as an antispasmodic. Thrush reached the following conclusions from his studies:
"1. It is of greatest value in grand mal of idiopathic type without hereditary taint and where the disease has begun beyond the age of childhood.
"2. It is perhaps next of greatest value in hystero-epilepsy with marked convulsive seizures. In cases of petit mal the drug does not seem to do the great good we have noted in the major type of the disease.
"3. In cases of well advanced epilepsy of any type in which there is degeneration of the cerebral neuron, the drug will act specifically, for a time even better than the bromides, but it will finally be determined that the bromide salts will ultimately control the attacks better in these cases.
"4. The foregoing clinical study has brought out sufficient clinical evidence to warrant the statement that the inherent advantage of vegetable depresso-motors is great as compared with any mineral salt given with the same intent, since destruction of the blood corpuscles by the latter is a most detrimental feature towards lessening the resistance of the individual in a disease where, above all, the constitutional tonicity should be favored as ideal treatment.
"5. A thorough impregnation of the nerve cells can alone be had and therefore cure hoped for in epilepsy in proportion as solanum is pushed to the fullest physiological dosage and maintained through periods of months, a year not being too short a time to warrant its discontinuance.
"6. The fluidextract of the drug made freshly is the ideal form of pharmaceutical preparation, given in ascending doses, commencing with one fluidrachm and increasing to the full constitutional effect.
"7. It is to be decidedly preferred to the bromides in those cases in which it can be used advantageously, because no toxic symptoms follow its free administration and the mental faculties impaired by its use."
My own results with the drug have been less encouraging. In epilepsy it serves well in some cases; but the long-continued administration necessary is quite as trying upon the patient as is a short and intensive course of the bromides, and it is less effective than the bromides. Nevertheless, I have found it useful when wishing to get an epileptic off of bromide medication. I would not depend upon solanum in the treatment of any form of convulsion of toxic origin, such as eclampsia. The convulsions of infancy and whooping cough have seemed to me to yield as well to solanum as to any other antispasmodic. Some gentlemen have been inclined very much to over-rate solanum. The dose of the fl. is 10 to 60 minims, but rarely over 30 minims.