The Homeopathic remedy Atropa belladonna belongs to the Solanaceae family of the plant kingdom.
The Solanaceae family is the most important economic family of the plant kingdom, as it includes a number of commonly cultivated species. The most economically important genus of the family is Solanum, which contains the potato. In fact, another common name of the family is the “potato family”, the tomato and the eggplant or aubergine.
Another important genus, Capsicum, produces both chilli peppers and bell peppers.
Some other important members of Solanaceae include a number of ornamental plants such as Petunia, Browallia, and Lycianthes; the source of psychoactive alkaloids, Datura, Mandragora (mandrake) and Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade).
Alkaloids of Solanaceae family
Many species contain a variety of alkaloids that can be more or less active or poisonous, such as Scopolamine, Atropine, Hyoscyamine and Nicotine. They are found in plants such as the Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus), Belladonna (Atropa belladonna), Datura or Jimson (Datura stramonium), Mandrake (Mandragora autumnalis), Tobacco, and others in different proportions. Different proportion of these alkaloids in plants results in variation of physiological action in animals.
The alkaloids of Belladonna are atropine, hyoscine (scopolamine), and hyoscyamine in different proportions. Atropine is the major ingredient of Belladonna alkaloids.
These alkaloids have anticholinergic properties that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Anticholinergics inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses by selectively blocking the binding of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to its receptors in nerve cells. The nerve fibers of the parasympathetic system are responsible for the involuntary movement of smooth muscles present in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, lungs, etc.
To understand the symptomatology of Belladonna in potentised form, it is important to be familiar with the effect of Belladonna in physiological doses. The symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include:
Effects on Peripheral nervous system
- Decreased mucus production in the nose and throat; consequent dry, sore throat, dry-mouth.
- Stopping of sweating; consequent decreased epidermal thermal dissipation leading to warm, blotchy, or red skin.
- Increased body temperature
- Pupil dilation; consequent sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
- Loss of accommodation (loss of focusing ability, blurred vision – cycloplegia), Double-vision
- Increased heart rate
- Tendency to be easily startled
- Urinary retention
- Diminished bowel movement, sometimes ileus (decreases motility via the vagus nerve)
Possible effects on the central nervous system resemble those associated with delirium, and may include:
- Euphoria or dysphoria
- Respiratory depression
- Inability to concentrate
- Wandering thoughts; inability to sustain a train of thought
- Incoherent speech
- Mental confusion (brain fog)
- Wakeful myoclonic jerking
- Unusual sensitivity to sudden sounds
- Illogical thinking
- Visual disturbances
- Periodic changes in visual field
- Visual snow
- Restricted or “tunnel vision”
Visual, auditory, or other sensory hallucinations include:
- Warping or waving of surfaces and edges
- Textured surfaces
- “Dancing” lines; “spiders”, insects; form constants
- Lifelike objects indistinguishable from reality
- Phantom smoking
- Hallucinated presence of people not actually there
- Rarely: seizures, coma, and death
So now we can that its symptomatology is very similar to the drug picture of Belladonna produced in drug provings.
Commonly used Homeopathic medicines from Solanaceae family:
Drug picture of Belladonna
It is often taught as an acute remedy in our homeopathy colleges – the remedy for acute high fevers, tonsillitis, coryza, headaches etc., but Belladonna is a wonderful curative in chronic cases also.
“Violence” is the key feature of Belladonna pathology. Nearly all acute complaints appear suddenly and violently and in chronic complaints there is either sudden increase of frequency of chronic complaints or sudden progression in chronic pathology.
Belladonna has marked action on blood and blood vessels, so most of complaints are associated with signs of inflammations i.e. Redness, Heat, Dryness, Pain (sp. throbbing) etc.
Prof. Vithoulkas says about the Belladonna personality that they are very energetic and have a type of presence which is not easily ignored. They are the kind of people who stand out in a group; they may even tend to find themselves the centre of attention at parties as a result of their bright eyes and great vitality. As the result of this strong vitality, nearly all pathologies are expressed violently and suddenly, like pains, fevers and many other mental symptoms.
Mind – Belladonna patients are very energetic, having strong vitality. In the mind symptoms also, patients present themselves with full vitality, whether it may be anger, delirium, mania etc.
Ailments from fright, grief, head injury, ambitions etc.
Anger violent, redness of face anger during. Patient shouts violently.
In delirium, patient wants to bite, desire to cut, strikes etc. kleptomania.
Patient has delusion of many imaginary things like ghost, animals monsters, and wants to escape from the them. This causes the patient fear from dark and desire for light.
Head – It is considered a wonderful remedy for headaches, which may be acute congestive, chronic migraine or even neuralgic headaches. In chronic headaches, the patient complains that there is intensification in pains and frequency is increased within the last few days. Belladonna headaches are usually right sided. Pains are throbbing, pulsating, stabbing, stitching, pressing, type.
In Belladonna headaches, there is intense heat of head with redness of face.
Headaches, whether congestive or neuralgic, are worse on stooping forward, bending downward, or lying down, anything that takes the patient out of the perpendicular or say the slightest jar aggravates Belladonna pains.
Headaches aggravate from sunlight, intense photophobia during headache. So in headache there is aversion to light or light aggravates the headache.
Eyes – There is marked redness, burning of eyes and photophobia. So Belladonna is a very good remedy for conjunctivitis and uveitis.
In ancient time it was used to dilate the pupils so that eyes look bigger and beautiful. So homoeopathically it can be used for exophthalmic goitre, toxic goitre and hypothyroidism.
Throat – Redness, dryness, heat of the throat with enlarged tonsils. Pain in throat specially right side. Dryness of tongue with thirstlessness.
There is dryness in all mucous membranes because of anticholinergic action of atropine.
Ear – Sharp pain in ear with inflammation, redness and heat. Pain in tonsils radiates to ear, worse on deglutition
Respiratory- dryness of nose and whole respiratory tract. Dry cough. Dry cough due to exposure of cold air.
GIT (gastro-intestinal tract) –
Inflammatory conditions like ileus, appendicitis where the pain, heat, tenderness is marked. Sharp cutting pains that comes and goes suddenly.
As I mentioned earlier, there is dryness of all mucous membrane, so there is constipation too. Thirst alternates with thirstlessness.
Belladonna is one of the good remedies for motion sickness and air sickness. Another medicine of this family for motion sickness is Tabacum.
Fever – Belladonna fevers are sudden, high grade, inflammatory and intermittent associated with heat of head and coldness of extremities or heat of head and coldness of back. There is heat and marked redness of face, dryness of skin, dryness of mouth with thirstlessness.
Female genitalia –
Inflammation of mamme with redness, heat & pain (mastitis). Characteristic red streaks runs from the nipple. Very sensitive to touch.
Heat and dryness of vagina. Menorrhagia. Discharge hot bright red.
Sharp cutting pains from hip to hip which appears and disappears suddenly.
Urinary– inflammation of bladder. Urine hot, painful micturation.
Haematuria where no pathological condition can be found.
General modality :
Worse- from all stimuli like light, noise, jar, motion etc. Aggravation at night, afternoon characteristically 3 A.M. and 3 P.M.
Belladonna ‘quick review’
- Patient has marked tendency to bite, cut and strike.
- Acute inflammation where heat, redness, pain, especially throbbing and dryness is very marked.
- All pains are acute, appear and disappear suddenly.
- All complaints are aggravated from slightest jar, even breathing also.
- Desire for lemon or lemonade.
- All complaints or pains are worse on stooping forward, bending or lying down i.e. anything that takes the patient out of the perpendicular.
- Discharges of Belladonna are usually hot like urine, menstrual discharge etc.