*This plant is TOXIC*
Atropa belladonna is a toxic herbaceous perennial that appears as a medium-sized bushy shrub. It is endemic in the Mediterranean region, western Europe, the Himalayas, and North America. It is commonly known to the globe as the ‘deadly nightshade’. It can reach up to a height of 5 feet, adorned with dark-green oval-shaped leaves and greenish-purple flowers that transform into purplish-black berries.
It has got this specific name belladonna, which is Italian for beautiful lady, due to its dilating effect on the iris. It has a reputation as poison due to its toxic alkaloids which cause a reduction in parasympathetic activation of cardiac and smooth muscles, resulting in sedation. Atropa crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes ataxia, short-term memory loss, disorientation, coma, and even death. During the Middle ages, it was used as an anesthetic during surgeries but its detrimental side effects caused it to get suspended.
Apart from its disastrous toxic effects, its tincture is still used as an aid to treat bronchospasms, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, hemorrhoids, colic, nerve-related disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, motion sickness, and cold symptoms.