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Belladonna Folklore

Belladonna is an extremely poisonous plant. Another name given to belladonna is ‘deadly nightshade’. It is highly toxic plant, since many toxins are present in all the parts of the plant especially in the seeds, roots and leaves. It has been known for centuries as a poison, and is used as a source for some medicines. Here in this article we will discuss about belladonna folklore. So, read on to know the myths associated with belladonna plant.

In earlier times, it was believed that belladonna plant was used in witchcraft, being equated with aggressive female sexuality and feelings of flight. The information on atropa belladonna folklore further reveals that witches used a mixture of belladonna, opium poppy and other poisonous plants in flying ointment they applied to help them fly to gatherings with other witches. Deadly nightshade folklore further reveals that, in earlier times in Italy women used extracts of Atropa belladonna to dilate their eyes for cosmetic purposes; such use explains the origin of the common name Italian, "beautiful woman". Read on to know more about belladonna myths.

Carlo Ginzburg and others have a point of view that flying ointments were just preparations for encouraging unreal dreaming or hallucinatory dreaming. In simple words the addition of belladonna’s tropane alkaloids &opiate alkaloids in the opium poppy, causes a dream-like waking state. However, this antagonism was known in folk medicine. It was discussed in eclectic medicine formularies, and posited as the explanation of how flying ointments might have actually worked in contemporary writing on witchcraft.

Moving further with the information on belladonna folklore, the original basis of the Twilight Sleep offered to Queen Victoria to reduce pain and consciousness during childbirth is the antagonism between opiates and tropanes. However, belladonna herb was also notable for its unpredictable effects from toxicity.