Often coined the ‘Devil’s eye,’ Henbane has been used for medicinal purposes, despite certain parts of this plant being toxic. In fact, during the medieval times era, Henbane was used as a very effective sleep aid and even as a deadly poison, often used by assassins.
This plant is predominately grown in Mediterranean countries and the western parts of Asia. Now it is widespread in many parts of Europe, North Africa, and all the way to North America, Brazil, Australia and many other countries.
Besides this plant demonic moniker, there is research proving henbane might be more of a blessing to our health than we know.
Botanical Name and Family of Henbane
Henbane is known botanically as Hyoscyamus niger and has been used for millennials due to its distinct healing capabilities. It belongs to the Nightshade of Solanaceae family and has been referred to as Stinking Nightshade, Black henbane, and Devil’s eye,
The interesting about this particular herb is that it has a reputation as a magical herb used in love potions and to induce hallucinations
What is Henbane?
Henbane has been used widely since ancient times in Europe and North Africa. Later, its use spread to the Americas and Asia. It was often used in combination with herbs such as datura and Mandrake to prepare ‘magic brews.’ Now, it is recognized as being highly toxic except in small doses.
When overly ingested, this herb can cause hallucinations and vivid dreams, some would even claim they would have trouble distinguishing reality from illusion after using the plant. Which is why it should not be used for self-medication unless taking under the supervision of skilled health professionals
Active Ingredients Found in Henbane
Henbane contains alkaloids such as hyoscyamine and scopolamine and coumarinolignans.
Health Benefits of Henbane
Henbane has been traditionally used to treat digestive problems such as gastrointestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome, reduce gastric acid production and to reduce the pain caused by gallstones and kidney stones. Oil extracted from the leaves of this herb is also used externally to treat scar tissue. Research shows henbane to possess antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activity.
Different Ways to Consume Henbane
The leaves have primarily been used in herbal medicine, but the roots and seed of the plant have also been used to some extent. A therapeutic oil can be made and used topically to treat conditions like neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis, and rheumatic conditions.
Side Effects of Henbane
Many people have utilized the benefits of this plant to help treat a variety of health issues but you must take small dosages of this herb to prevent yourself from experiencing any side effects. Henbane has been known to cause side effects such as constipation, vision disturbances, dry mouth, increased heart rate, hallucinations, drowsiness, and restlessness.
It must not be used by persons with heart problems, constipation, down syndrome, fever, glaucoma, urinary retention, and digestive system problems. This article is meant to solely inform, not to recommend an alternative to any medication you are currently using. Always make sure to speak to your doctor before you consider using any natural treatments.
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Begum S, Saxena B, Goyal M, Ranjan R, Joshi VB, Rao ChV, Krishnamurthy S, Sahai M. Study of anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activities of seeds of Hyoscyamus niger and isolation of a new coumarinolignan.Fitoterapia. 2010 Apr;81(3):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2009.08.024. Epub 2009 Aug 29. PubMed PMID: 19720117.
Alizadeh A, Moshiri M, Alizadeh J, Balali-Mood M. Black henbane and its toxicity – A descriptive review. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Sep-Oct; 4(5): 297–311. PMCID: PMC4224707