Datura is a bushy plant growing upto one metre in height. It has large egg-shaped leaves, very large white flowers and egg.. shaped fruits, covered with prickles. The dried leaves, top portion of the flower and seeds of the plant constitute the drug.
Datura is referred to in ancient Indian literature as shivashekhera because the flowers are believed to be associated with Lord Shiva. It was known to the ancient Hindu physicians. They regarded the drug as an intoxicant, with emetic, digestive and healing. powers. Smoking of datura seeds as a treatment for asthma wa1 known during the vedic period.
Datura is indigenous to India. The plant grows in temperate Himalayas upto 2500 metres and in the hilly belts of Central and Southern India.
The leaves of the plant contain alkaloids. The cultivated plants produce higher percentage of alkaloids. Seeds yield deploid I and tetraploid II besides alkaloids. ~me amount of alkaloids are there in dried seeds and fruits.
The dried leaves and seeds of datura are used in the British and the United States Pharmacopoeia as antispasmodic under critical conditions of asthma and whooping cough. Datura possesses properties analogous to those of belladonna. It counteracts spasmodic disorders and induces deep sleep.
Datura is very useful in asthma, when the smoke from theburning leaves is inhaled. The leaves rolled into cigarettes can be smoked to relieve asthmatic attacks.
Datura fruit is a specific remedy for phlegmatic and bilious types of malarial fever. A desired quantity of the fruit should be placed in an earthen pot and covered with a plaster composed of cloth and clay. It should be parched in 10 to 12 grams of cowdung cakes. When the fire gets extinguished and the pot is cold, the burnt fruit should removed, powdered and kept safely in a phial for use in malarial fever.
The herb is valuable remedy for heart disorders. It relieves cardiac pains, distress, palpitation and aortic disorders.
The leaves of the herb are useful in the treatment of earache. About 125 grams each of the juice of datura leaves and sesame oil should be boiled in a tin vessel on gentle fire. When half of the juice has evaporated, seven leaves of gigantic swallow wort (akh) should be put in it after smearing them with oil and sprinkling with powdered salt. The leaves should be boiled till they begin to char. This oil is then filtered through a coarse cloth and preserved in a bottle. A few drops of this oil in the ear cure earache and suppurative conditions of the ear.
Datura is useful in impotency. The seeds of 15 ripe fruits should be extracted and boiled in eight kilograms of cow's milk on gentle fire. This milk should then be made into curd in the usual way and churned the next morning to extract butter which is stored in a broad-mouthed bottle. This butter, massaged every morning and evening on the penis and the spine, will provide the desired effect. It is also used as an oral medicine. Four grains with betel leaf can be taken. The use of this butter both externally and internally in this way will gradually promote health and vigour and restore absolute fitness in the body.
A preparation made from datura seeds with other ingredients is useful in patchy baldness. A paste made with. datura seeds, liquorice, saffron and milk cream is heated in coconut oil thoroughly till the solid mass converts to a charred powder. The oil when applied on bald patches has the power to stimulate hair growth. As datura is poisonous, hands should be washed thoroughly after handling the oil. The mixture should not be used on the scalp of children.
The herb is highly beneficial in checking secretion of breast milk. In case of an unfortunate death of a newly born baby, accumulation of milk in the breasts of the mother poses a problem, causing severe pain. In such a case, warmed leaves of the datura tied on the breasts will help dry the milk without any pain and difficulty. Just 2 or 3 applications will bring the desired results.
Precautions: The usual dose of datura is about 2 decigrams. In large doses, it may lead to dilation of the pupils and dryness of the mouth and throat.