Belladonna is a perennial, herbaceous plant, found in Europe, the leaves and root being the medicinal portions.

Medical Properties And Action

Belladonna is anodyne and antispasmodic, its activity depending upon an alkaloid, Atropine. Belladonna, in small doses, is a valuable narcotic and anodyne stimulant. It causes a peculiar dryness of the mouth, fauces, stomach and intestines, but increased secretion follows, especially in the case of the latter organs, when atropine is administered or subcutaneously injected. In larger doses, it causes dilatation of the pupils, giddiness, loss of vision, difficult deglutition, constriction of the throat, difficult articulation, increased action of the heart, quickened respiration, nausea, vomiting, diuresis, purging, and sometimes a red eruption. It is eliminated chiefly by the urine.

Opium is the antidote, or hypodermic injections of morphine. When applied to the eyebrows, belladonna causes dilatation of the pupils.

Therapeutic Uses

Belladonna is extensively employed, either alone or in combination with sulphate of quinia, in the treatment of neuralgia; also in mania, Bright's disease, epilepsy, lead colic, spasmodic affections, diseases of the cerebro-spinal system, as a preventive of scarlatina, night sweats of phthisis, etc.


Of powdered belladonna, gr. ss to gr. j, daily; of the extract, gr. 1/4 to gr. j; of the tincture, gtt. v to gtt. xx. Belladonna should not be given immediately before or after meals, as it decreases the gastric fluids. (See Atropine.)