Black nightshade is considered to be a rasayana and is used as a food. The fruits resemble small tomatoes and are made into a spicy sauce in southern India and the young leaves are steamed and eaten like spinach.
The plant is found throughout the drier areas of India and other parts of Asia and Mrica on wasteland and roadsides and in gardens.
A glabrous, dense, erect annual herb reaching up to 45 cm (Plate 55). The leaves are ovate?lanceolate, with an acute apex, thin and may be lobed or toothed. The flowers are typically solanaceous, small and violet, borne in lateral, umbellate cymes. The fruits are smooth, shiny berries, green when unripe and becoming red to purplish-black on ripening, containing numerous small, yellow discoid seeds.
Whole plant, fruit.
A decoction is taken internally for hepatitis and other disorders of the liver and for inflammation of the spleen, digestive system and uterus. It is used in the form of a gargle as an antiseptic and antiinflammatory for conditions of the pharynx and larynx. The leaves are made into a poultice and applied to burns, wounds and skin affections.
The whole plant, leaves, berries and young shoots are used to treat blindness, fever, skin diseases, diarrhoea and stoppage of urine. Major chemical constituents.
Solanine, solamargine, solasonine, (X- and ?-solanigrine, which are based on the aglycone solasodine, are found in the unripe fruit.
Diosgenin, trigogenin and nigrumnins I and II have also been isolated.
Hepatoproteaive aaivity: Administration of the fruit powder in water reduced elevated levels of SGPT and SGOT in carbon tetrachloride-treated rats. This protective action was also observed with paracetamol?induced hepatotoxicity and depleted hepatic glutathione was restored. The petroleum ether and 50% ethanolic extracts brought about a moderate reversal of hepatotoxin?induced changes in serum and liver enzyme concentrations, but the effect of the extracts was less marked than that of the crude fruit powder. Diarrhoea, lethargy and pyloric obstruction were noted as side effects and higher doses of the alcoholic and petroleum ether extracts caused mortality. The aerial parts of S. nigrum increased the in vitro demethylation of aflatoxin B, and aflatoxin G, and the concentration of some drug?metabolising enzymes.
Antiulcerogenic aaivity: Powdered aerial parts of S. nigrum and the methanolic extract were shown to decrease the ulcer index significantly in aspirin-induced gastric ulcers. The activity may be due to the inhibition of acid and pepsin secretion.
Antiinflammatory activity: The plant showed activity in both acute and chronic models of inflammation.
Molluscicidal aaivity: All parts of the plant exhibit molluscicidal activity against Biomphalaria alexandrina and other snail species, which are intermediate hosts of the parasites causing human schistosomiasis or fascioliasis.
The presence of the steroidal alkaloids, especially in the unripe fruit, can lead to toxicity and solanine is known to be teratogenic. Symptoms include gastrointestinal problems which can then lead to cyanosis, shock and even paralysis. The maximum tolerated dose of the 50% ethanolic extract of whole plant was found to be 1000 mg/kg in adult albino rats.