Jimson Weed Datura Stramonium Poisonous Herbal Medicine

By Ina Woolcott

What is Datura Stramonium?

Datura Stramonium is the botanical name of the plant more commonly known as Jimsonweed. It is a widespread, poisonous plant of the nightshade family and is able to flourish in nearly all environments, but prospers in high nutrient soil. The name Datura is early Sanskrit and means “divine inebriation.” The Origins of Datura are unclear, due to the plants wide distribution, although Mexico and Central America have the highest concentration. It is found in most areas of the USA, apart from the West, Northwest and the northern Great Plains and most frequently in the South and throughout various other areas of the world, growing 2 to 4 feet high. The stems are purple and fork out with leaves 7-20cm long with ‘teeth’ of uneven occurrence similar to those of an oak trees leaves. What stands out the most are the flowers that are trumpet-shaped, white to purple in colour, and 5-12.5 cm long and because these open and close at atypical times, the plant has been given the nickname moonflower. There are also fruits on the plant which are egg shaped and roughly the size of a walnut and covered in spikes. Each fruit breaks into four compartments containing a small number of kidney shaped seeds. When crushed all parts of the plant give off an unpleasant smell.

Datura Stramonium is also known as simply Datura, Jimson Weed, Gypsum Weed, Loco Weed, Jamestown Weed, Thorn Apple, Angel’s Trumpet, Devil’s Trumpet, Mad Hatter, Crazy Tea and Zombie’s Cucumber.

The plant contains tropane alkaloids that cause life like hallucinations which cant be differentiated from ‘normal’ reality. Sometimes Jimson Weed is used instead of illegal drugs as it is generally not illegal, although there are regulations on its usage. Generally it is drunk as a ‘herbal’ tea, although it can be smoked or eaten. As it is reputed to be an unpleasant and poor high, it is not in big demand as a recreational drug. Now and again a grazing goat will come across Jimson weed and upon eating it, die a prolonged and painful death.

Who uses Datura and for What Purpose?

Navajo cautionary advice on Datura “Eat a little, and go to sleep. Eat some more, and have a dream. Eat some more, and don’t wake up.”

No matter where Datura originated from, it appears to have played an important role as a “culture plant,” particularly in Asia and the New World, for many years. It has been used as part of spiritual ceremonies and acts in many parts of the world. The Sadhus (Yogis) of Hinduism used datura as a spiritual tool, smoking it with cannabis in traditional pipes called chillums. Native Americans have used this plant in sacred ceremonies, such as the ceremonies of manhood, and also to receive visions. A young Native American coming of age would go to an isolated location, sometimes alone, fasting and praying to purify himself. Then a shaman would come and give the initiate a Datura tea to induce visions. A shaman would always prepare the brew as he knows how much to administer and also where to gather the plants. In Haiti’s Voodoo religion, Datura is known as Zombie Cucumber and is used on the trial by ordeal which at times makes zombies. The ‘Zombie cucumber’ is mixed with other ingredients to make a balm which is used to find out if someone is telling the truth or not. If they are being honest they stay alive, if not they die by turning into a zombie.

Carlos Castaneda used Datura under the tutelage of Don Juan Matus and write about his experience with the plant ally in great detail in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Datura has been used for its mind altering properties, to induce visions, to ‘fly’, (this is what ‘witches’ used, the word flying was used metaphorically) to help foretell the future, to reveal the causes of disease and misfortune, to treat colds and nervous conditions and to hex and un-hex. Other datura species have been used to hold counsel with the gods. In addition, it has been used to find stolen objects and even to make predictions of the likelihood of recovery of black magic associated illness. Datura ceratocaula was used in an ointment to treat cracked soles, sores, bruises, as plasters for ulcers, pustules, and as a poultice for rheumatic pains. It has also been highly revered as a powerful aphrodisiac and is by some regarded as one of the most ancient healing herbs. Datura has been used for empowerment to manipulate the “supernatural forces” that control nature and influence human activity.

The effects of Jimson Weed are extreme dilating of the pupils, flushed, warm and dry skin, dry mouth, urinary retention, slowing or stopping of intestinal movement, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure and jerky movements as well as of course being a strong hallucinogen. People who have experienced Datura describe the effects as if living in a dream, where one falls in and out of consciousness. When at the peak of the experience, one often loses touch with reality and is unable to communicate. It is a “real” trance when someone under Daturas influence is awake but completely disassociated from his immediate surroundings. He would ignore most stimuli and respond to unreal ones. People known miles away are visited and engaged with. Effects can last for 24-48 hours, sometimes longer due to the alkaloids in Jimson weed slowing the digestive process! Some users have described their experiences as disagreeable and extremely frightening.

Datura has a long history of use as a herbal medicine, it is very poisonous though and should be used with extreme caution, the line between the amount taken for hallucinogenic effects and death are very thin. Overdosing is easy to do, and can result in hyperthermia, coma, respiratory arrest, seizures and fevers in the 40-43°C range. This can be accompanied by delirium with visual and auditory hallucinations and can be fatal. Advise for an overdose: Vomit and go straight to hospital! There is no antidote for this and treatment normally includes pumping the stomach and administering activated charcoal to absorb the contaminants. The drug physostigmine, a mild nerve agent and a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor obtained from the Calabar bean is used in severe cases. People overdose mainly because effects take a while to kick in, they take some more and before they know it have OD’d.

Once upon a time Datura was used as a medicine – the alkaloid was known as daturine – to help asthma sufferers, by extracting Stramonium from the seeds and leaves and then using it to relax the smooth muscles of the bronchial tubes. This was done by smoking Stramonium or by taking the solution internally. Often the Datura leaves were ground in to a powder with the same amount of cannabis and lobelia then blended together with potassium nitrate. This was then burned in an open dish giving off dense smoke giving tremendous relief from asthma attacks. At the start of the 20th century asthma was treated with medicines that had these ingredients in extensive amounts. When the dangers of tropane poisoning were uncovered datura stopped being used medically. The FDA has rendered it unfit for human consumption.

6 thoughts on “Jimson Weed Datura Stramonium Poisonous Herbal Medicine”

  1. Once the extract is added you will want about a 4-4.
    The beer is transferred to a bottling bucket after fermentation is finished.
    ” Her goal is to someday open her own brewpub as time, experience and education permit.

  2. This plant has REAL curative powers when used as a topical salve for SKIN CANCER……. discovered by William (Bill) Edward Chamm he called BEC-5. It is cancer specific in that normal cells are in no way harmed. Look at Ty Bollinger’s website for more details.

  3. Years ago I was called to a friends house by his girlfriend. He and his cousin, both native Americans in Arkansas had picked jimson weed pods. When I arrived they were in separate bedrooms. One sat in the floor with a bag of empty pods, legs crossed eating from an imaginary bowl , hewing and swallowing. The other was alternately fishing or shooting a pistol, except he had neither. It was so real as he aimed, pulled the trigger then winced as he heard the sou d! The most fantastic trip I had ever seen! Neither were verbal or aware of me and it lasted at least 2 days that I know of.

  4. My grandmother made “black salve” from Jimson weed infused oil and rosin (to stiffen it). Only one of her 11 children ever saw a doctor when he broke his arm. Black salve was used for everything else.

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