Common Henbane. Nat. Ord. Solanaceae. Linn. Syst. Pentandria Monogynia. Hab. England and Europe. It has also been cultivated in India.
Med. Prop. and Action. The leaves and seeds are narcotic, anodyne, and anti-spasmodic, in doses of gr. v. - x. It is best given in Extract or in Tincture. Active principle, Hyoscyamia or Hyoscyamina, which, in its properties, is almost identical with Atropia (which see). In medicinal doses, Henbane calms and soothes any irritation of the system, allays pain, and relieves spasm. Unlike Opium, it neither causes constipation, checks secretions, nor produces headache. It also induces dilatation of the pupil, while Opium causes contraction. In over-doses it occasions sickness, stupor, dimness of sight, a hard pulse, delirium and coma, with dilatation of the pupil; until, gradually, the pulse becoming weak and tremulous, petechias make their appearance, and death ensues. Dissection shows inflammation of the stomach, of the intestines, and of the membranes of the brain. (Thompson.) The delirium caused by Henbane is generally furious and unmanageable. Dr. Neligan * has adduced certain facts which tend to weaken belief in the anodyne powers of Hyoscyamus, but it still maintains its character with most practitioners. Externally, the leaves may be applied in the form of cataplasms or fomentations. The extract in solution, dropped into the eyes, or rubbed on the temple, causes dilatation of the pupil The caustic fixed alkalies, as potash and soda, destroy its narcotic powers, by decomposing its active principle (Garrod). It is a much more eligible sedative for children than Opium.
Offic. Prep. 1. Extractum Hyoscyami (a green Extract prepared from the juice of the fresh leaves and young branches). Dose, gr. v. - gr. x.
iiss.; Proof Spirit Oj. Prepared by maceration and percolation). Dose, exv. - fl. drm. j., or more.
In Nervous Irritability, Henbane is peculiarly valuable. Mr. Travers remarks, that in ruffled states of the system generally, but especially in an overactive state of the vascular system, there is a charm in the operation of Henbane altogether peculiar. It is feeble as an anodyne, feebler as a soporific; "but not poppy nor man-dragora" soothe and still so unexceptionably as Henbane. In the delirium and irritable condition of the mervous system which accompany reaction after the loss of blood, Henbane is strongly recommended by Dr. M. Hall.
1553. In Delirium, Mania, and other Cerebral Affections, where a contracted state of the pupil, and other circumstances, contra-indicate the use of Opium, Henbane may often be advantageously employed. Dr. A. T. Thompson states that he has long given it with much benefit in these cases, in combination with Camphor.
* Dublin Medical Press, 1862.
On Constitutional Irritation and the Pathology of the Nervous System, Lond. 1835. Dispensatory, p. 492.
Hyos-cyami (gr. v.) and Camphor (gr. v.), repeated every six hours, is highly spoken of by Gooch. *
Dr. J. Johnson, greatly relieved by the following formula: - T. Hyoscyam. ex. - xx., Liq. Ammon. A. (Ph. L.) fss., Liq. Ant. Tart. ex., Aq. Menth. Vir. fj., M. ft. haust. 4tis horis sumend.
J. Clarke advises a vaginal injection, composed of 3iij. of the Extract, dissolved in Oj. of warm water. Of this fiij. may be used, three or four times daily. It affords much temporary relief.
1557. In Diseases of the Eye, Henbane is particularly valuable as a means of dilating the pupil. It is less powerful than Belladonna, but may be substituted for it in Cataract, deep-seated Ulcers of the Cornea, Iritis, &c. (See Belladonna..)
1558. In the Cough and Dyspnoea of Phthisis, great relief is often obtained by inhaling the vapour of Henbane (gr. iv. - vj. of the Extract, in Oj. of boiling water). In Asthma, its external exhibition is occasionally of great service. It is highly spoken of by Dr. Bree.
Hope advises the Extract, in doses of gr. iij. - iv., once or twice daily; it is a good palliative, but to be of service it requires to be persevered in. In Palpitations arising from Debility, he advises the following formula: - ℞ T. Hyoscyam. f3ss., Spt. Aether. Nit. f3ss., Syr. Auiant. f3j., Mist. Camph. f3x., M. ft. haust. bis terve in die sumend.
1560. In Neuralgia, Rheumatism, painful Glandular Swellings, irritable Ulcers, and Haemorrhoids, fomentations or cataplasms of Henbane afford great relief. An ointment composed of equal parts of the Extract and Lard is also very serviceable in these cases.