This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
In reference to this indication, belladonna has been used in certain conditions of paralysis with asserted success, particularly in paraplegic cases. It is quite obvious that it should never be employed in cases dependent on congestion, inflammation, or organic lesion of the nervous centres, until this condition shall have ceased entirely, and nothing is left but mere inertness. In paralysis combined with neuralgic pains, as in lead palsy, we may readily conceive that the medicine may act favourably. Id amaurosis, moreover, it is said to have proved useful; but here also the affection should be purely functional to justify its employment.
Belladonna has been used in insanity, particularly in its melancholy forms; and it is probably useful in cases similar to those in which opium proves advantageous, but it is so much inferior to that narcotic, that unless some special objection to opium may exist, it would scarcely be worth while to employ it. When complicated, however, with neuralgic pains, the disease would present a much stronger indication.
In delirium tremens it has been used like most other narcotics; but, as it has little tendency to produce sleep, which is the great object aimed at here, it would not seem to be specially called for. In this complaint the pupils are often very much contracted; and belladonna has been suggested as an appropriate remedy, because one of its most constant effects is to dilate the pupil. Dr. James Grieve, of Dumfries, Scotland, has used it locally to expand the pupil, and thus to obviate spectral illusions which he supposed might be connected with this condition of the iris. I tried it in one instance, with no satisfactory result. Besides, one of the characteristic effects of belladonna, when given largely, is to produce illusions.
Under this head we may introduce a notice of the use of belladonna in the nocturnal incontinence of urine of children. There can be no doubt of its frequent usefulness in this affection. It should be given at bedtime, and continued for a week or two before being relinquished if unsuccessful. If it prove efficacious, it should be persevered with for some time after apparent cure, in order to break up the habit. It probably acts either by giving greater energy to the sphincter through the nervous centre which regulates its action, or by rendering it, through a congestive influence on the centre, insensible to irritant impressions. A similar efficacy has been claimed for the remedy in fecal incontinence occurring in children. (Bulletin Gen. de Therap , Aout 15, 1855).
Upon the same principle of its action on the nervous centres, must be explained its asserted influence in preventing the very serious reflex injuries following extensive burns.