(From a swine, and a bean; from hogs eating it as a medicine; or from the hairy and bristly appearance of the plant). Henbanes; hog's beans, and dens caballinus. The plants have hairy, oblong, deep indented leaves, and bell shaped flowers, followed by irregular cup like capsules, which contain the seeds. It is also a name for tobacco. See Nicotian v.
Hyosciamus albus, Lin. Sp. Pl. 257. White henbane. Its leaves are smaller and more woody than those of the black henbanes; the plant is a native of the southern parts of Europe; is similar, but not equally powerful, with the common sort. Sauvages observes, that the daily use of the hyosciamus albus, beginning with the third part of a grain, and gradually increasing it while the oesophagus and fauces are moist, is the most efficacious remedy for a cataract. A priest, affected with this complaint in his right eye, after the use of this medicine for eight days, in which time the dose was increased to three grains, could read small print, who before could only perceive large letters. The crystalline lens was at first white, afterward became bluish and nearly pellucid; the myodal suffusion, under which he laboured, vanished, but the appetite and sleep, at first languid, were perfectly restored. From the use of this medicine he saw another cured by D. Coulas, whose crystalline lens became perfectly diaphanous. Sauva-gesii Nosologia Methodica, vol. i. p. 724.
Hyosciamus lutaeus. See Nicotian a minor.
Hyosciamus Niger, apollinaris altercum, faba suilla, agone, altercangenon, common or black henbane; hyosciamus niger Lin. Sp. Pi. 257; is one of the poisonous vegetables of Great Britain. The root is long, tough, white, and, when recently cut through, smells like liquorice: the stalks thick, round, woody, irregularly branched, and covered with a hairy down. The leaves surrounding the stalk at their base stand irregularly; are large, soft, and downy, pointed at the ends, and very deeply indented at the edges; of a greyish green colour, with a virose disagreeable smell. The flowers are monopetalous, divided into five obtuse segments; large, of a dirty yellowish colour, reticulated with violet coloured veins. The seed vessels follow, one after every flower: they are large, and contain a great quantity of seeds of a brown, rough, and irregular figure.
This is the only species a native of Great Britain; and the seeds, leaves, or roots, if received into the stomach, are poisonous. The root produces various disorders, and particularly madness. If the stomach does not reject what it has received, a stupor and apoplectic symptoms, terminating in death, are the usual consequences.
Henbane, in its external appearances, much resembles parsnep, the use of which is said to be dangerous; the latter has probably been mistaken for parsnips.
The symptoms in consequence of swallowing this species of henbane,besides madness, are apoplexy, or an appearance of intoxication. Swallowing the seeds has been sometimes followed by thirst, giddiness, dimness
5 G 2 ofsight,witha dilated pupil, raving, and profound sleep. The effects of henbane are similar to those of opium, when taken in large quantities; and, like opium, if administered with skill, it is a valuable sedative, moderating excess of irritability. With the advantages of opium, it is said to keep the bowels lax, especially if exhibited in large doses. It has been given in the form of extract as far as twenty-four grains; but the dose has been gradually increased from one or two grains: it seldom produces any anodyne effect till it has amounted to eight or ten grains. Dr. Cullen has extended it to thirty grains a day.
Its ill effects are relieved as directed in the article Amanita, q. v.
Dr. Stork is said to have relieved by this remedy palpitations of the heart, a tendency to melancholy, coughs, with other spasmodic disorders and convulsions after other means had failed. But Greeding tried it in forty cases of melancholia, mania, and epilepsy, without advantage. In cancers and scrofula it has been tried with various degrees of success. In chordees, which have resisted the use of opium, Bell used it with advantage, giving the extract from one to three grains, sometimes a larger dose, three times a day. See Stoerck de Hyosciamo, and Lewis's Materia Medica.
The author of this article, led many years since by circumstances unnecessary to mention, tried the seeds of the hyoscyamus in different cases of hysteria, and other convulsive diseases of the stomach. Either alone or mixed with aromatics he found it a valuable sedative, without the deleterious or the constipating effects of opium, and only neglected it from omitting to procure the seeds in proper time. He began with a grain, and seldom found it necessary to proceed beyond three or four.
Lewis's Materia Medica, p. 315; Wilmcr's Observations on the Poisonous Vegetables in Great Britain; Withering's Botanical Arrangements; Memoirs of the Medical Society of London, vol. i. p. 3i0; Cullen's Materia Medica.