Active Ingredients - Every portion of this plant, while fresh, has a heavy and disagreeable odor. In America the scent is said to be sometimes so powerful as to cause sickness in those who inadvertently expose themselves to it. The taste is bitter; and if the plant be chewed, the saliva acquires a green tinge. The active principle of stramonium is the alkaloid daturia, which, as already mentioned, is identical in formula, and in nearly all physical and chemical characters, with atropia, but appears to be more powerful than the latter.

Physiological Action. - The first mention of stramonium by a modern author occurs in the celebrated Historia Stirpium of Fuchsius, published in 1542. But the employment of it in regular medicine is of much more recent date. From time immemorial, however, it appears to have been used in some of the Asiatic islands as a soporific; and it would seem to have been long known that, if administered too copiously, the extract induces nausea, drowsiness, loss of sense, a sort of intoxication, and delirium. If not checked, these symptoms are followed by loss of memory, convulsions, a sense of suffocation, paralysis of the limbs, cold sweats, excessive thirst, dilatation of the pupil, and tremblings, which presently terminate in death.

Therapeutic Action. - The therapeutic action of stramonium, when employed as a remedial agent in disease, is apparently much the same as that of belladonna, a similarity at first sight very remarkable. Surprise, however, diminishes when it is remembered that the same principle exists in these two medicines, and that both belong to the same natural order of plants, as does also hyoscyamus. That all three should be resorted to in very much the same class of diseases follows almost as a matter of course.

Baron Storck, by whom aconite was introduced into modern practice, was the first also to point out the efficacy of stramonium. He commended it as well adapted for affections of the brain and nervous system; also for use in mania and epilepsy. Dr. Davey and many others have since declared its value in mania, by reason of its power in allaying irritation and inducing tranquil sleep.

The action, however, is so powerful that in England there is little disposition to employ it; and as with many other valuable drugs, the merits of stramonium, which are unquestionably high, do not receive general recognition.

Puerperal Mania. - Personally I can speak favorably of stramonium in cases of puerperal mania, when the delirium is of a wild and furious but intermittent character, attended by great restlessness, with sluggishness and scantiness in the secretion of milk, and when there is a tendency to suicide, or a disposition to destroy the child. Stramonium, under such circumstances, will often allay the cerebral excitement, and soothe the nervous system. Under its influence the flow of milk will soon be renewed, sleep will be restored, and a general calm will pervade the whole system. It must never be forgotten in these cases to watch the lochia and other secretions, nor to use poultices, hot and soothing fomentations, enemas or gentle laxatives, should occasion require; and, above all, we must not neglect to sustain the patient's sinking powers by means of nutritious and stimulating diet. From a quarter to half a grain of the extract of stramonium, or ten to twenty minims of the tincture, should be administered every three or four hours until relief is obtained.

Nymphomania. - Given in smaller doses, stramonium is very useful in nymphomania when unconnected with disease of the sexual organs, and attended by considerable mental and bodily depression.

Epilepsy. - The beneficial effects of stramonium in epilepsy are very doubtful. I am not aware of any case that has ever been palliated by its employment.

Tic Douloureux and Sciatica. - In tic douloureux, when exhibited in large doses and steadily administered for some time, stramonium often affords very decided relief. In such cases, and also in sciatica, doses of a quarter to half a grain should be given every three or four hours; but if the slightest symptoms of narcotism appear the medicine must immediately be discontinued. If relief be not obtained after the administration of four or five doses, to continue longer would be useless, and might even prove injurious; this is the case not only in tic douloureux and sciatica, but in any other disorders for which stramonium is eligible.1

Spasmodic Asthma. - In cases of spasmodic asthma stramonium is an old, often tried, and a frequently successful remedy. I have seen it produce speedy and permanent relief in several severe cases of this complaint when administered in doses of a quarter of a grain to half a grain at intervals of three or four hours. In America stramonium is a popular remedy for asthma, those cases in which it is found specially serviceable being the purely spasmodic ones. In these it acts, without doubt, by virtue of its sedative and antispasmodic properties.

Bigelow, in his "American Medical Botany," vol. i., p. 23, describes the excellent effects produced by smoking the seeds of stramonium in the same way as tobacco, when an efficient palliative is required alike for asthma and for certain other affections of the lungs. The practice was suggested by the employment, for this purpose, in India, of the seeds of another species of the genus, the Datura ferox. Bigelow admits that with plethoric and intemperate people this method of employing stramonium entirely fails. It fails also in cases where there is effusion of serum in the pleural cavity, or where there is other serious organic change implicating the lungs. But when the patient has no such lesions there seems to be good reason for believing that the reputed advantage may be derived.

Dr. Marcet publishes results of his experience with stramonium, which seem to prove this drug superior to any other narcotic; he states, that when employed internally, he found it paramount in many painful diseases. He says of it likewise, that although it sometimes excites disagreeable nervous sensations, alarming to the patient, these are by no means constant or serious. The effects upon the bowels he found to be relaxing rather than astringent.

Tumors. - The fresh leaves of stramonium made into a cataplasm, and applied externally, have been found successful in cases of inflammatory tumor; also for "discussing" indurated milk in the breasts of nurses.

Haemorrhoids. - An ointment prepared from the fresh leaves is recommended to alleviate the pain of haemorrhoids, and for other affections

1 Gubler (Commentaires therapeutiques) speaks highly of stramonium as a remedy for "congestive neuralgias." of the rectum. (It is also useful in irritable ulcers, eczema, and some other pruriginous affections.)

Rabies.- In India stramonium is said to be successfully administered for rabies, and then given in large doses, so as to produce continuous intoxication.

Unfortunately for the disposition to allow it a fair trial, and to realize all the advantages which it offers, stramonium, like some other narcotic medicines, is very uncertain in its operation. In some cases the effect is all that could be desired; in others the operation is indifferent; or there may even be total and absolute failure.

As regards what is really one of the commonest and most useful applications of stramonium - its use by smoking in spasmodic asthma - it seems especially worth while to remember one point, viz., that the desired effects can be produced with much greater promptitude and certainty by the use of the seeds than by that of the leaves. Dr. Hyde Salter suggests that it would be a good plan to soak the leaves in an infusion of the seeds, and then dry them for use. At any rate, if the leaves alone be used, it is very necessary to employ them in a fresh state, as they soon become nearly inert.

In conclusion, let me remind English readers that though stramonium is much gone out of fashion, it was the deliberate opinion of Trousseau and Pidoux (Matiere Med., etc.) that if can do all that belladonna can do, and is more powerful.

Preparations and Dose. - Ext. Stramonii Foliorum, gr. 1/8 - j.

(.02 - .06); Ext. Stramon. Semin., gr. 1/6 - 1/2 (.01 - .03); Tinct. Stramon., m v. - xxx. (.30 - 2.); Ungt. Stramonii.