Datura stramonium

scientific name: 
Datura stramonium L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual strong-smelling weedy herb up to 1 m tall. Stems glabrous or pubescent; leaves alternate, ovate, sinuate-lobed, up to 20 cm long; flowers 6-10 cm long, erect, white or tinged with purple; fruit an ovoid capsule ca. 5 cm long, smooth or covered with prickles.




smoke of dried flower and leaf, inhaled1


smoke of dried flower and leaf, inhaled1

The tincture prepared by maceration of the fresh leaf in aqueous alcohol (10:1) administered orally to Swiss albino mice (weight 18-22 g) gave an LD50 = 821.93 mg/kg, using the method of OECD-198732.

The dried aerial parts administered orally (1.7 g/kg) to a pregnant sow did not cause teratogenic effects, but did cause signs of general toxicity 15.

The methanolic extract (50%) from the leaf and stem at a concentration of 50 µg/mL stimulated an isolated hamster uterus16.

Several cases of poisoning have been reported in humans from the aerial parts17-19 and specifically, from the dried leaf20-21 or leaf19,22-25 ingested or smoked26-27.  Symptoms were varied and included tachycardia, pupil dilation, extreme thirst, confusion, blindness, convulsions and even death17.

Atropine poisoning is a frequent cause of clinical poisoning, particularly in children and in the elderly, due to the consumption of teas prepared with plants containing these alkaloids.  Fatal cases are rare; however, it has been reported that in children, doses of 10 mg or less can be lethal13.

The ingestion of high doses of this plant causes hallucinogenic effects, and poisoning has been observed in adolescents and adults from smoking cigarettes with plant material containing these alkaloids.  Collateral effects (even in therapeutic doses) of scopolamine (hyoscyamine) include depression of the central nervous system with sleepiness, amnesia, fatigue, and speech and motion disorders.  Occasionally, there may be excitement, restlessness, hallucinations and delirium with toxic doses of scopolamine, sometimes followed by a depressive condition leading to circulatory collapse and respiratory insufficiency, paralysis and coma.  Atropine (hyoscyamine) at high doses can cause eyesight disorders, excitement, agitation, delirium28-29, and even a cardio-respiratory failure leading to death13.

In cases of poisoning, it is recommended to carry out gastric lavage, administer pilocarpine or physostigmine to counteract atropine symptoms, and apply cold water compresses30.

Two cases of Datura poisoning were efficiently treated with physostigmine31.

The leaf has been extensively studied and contains, among other components:

alkaloids: ±hyoscyamine (atropine), (-) hyoscine (scopolamine)2-3; phenylpropanoids, caffeic, r-coumaric, ferulic4 and chlorogenic acids; terpenoids: daturalactone, stramonolide5; sterols: campesterol, b-sitosterol, stigmasterol; flavonoids: kaempferol, populnin, rutin, quercetin and derivatives6; peptides: g-L-glutamyl-L-aspartate7.

The entire plant contains alkaloids (0.06-0.50%): mainly atropine and scopolamine2-3,8.

The smoke of the dried leaf equivalent to 1/4 and 1/2 of cigarette, mixed with the leaf of Atropa belladonna and Tussilago farfara exhibited anti-asthmatic activity in guinea pig9.

The aqueous and ethanolic (95%) extracts from the leaf had antispasmodic effects on isolated ileum of guinea pig (200 µg/mL)10.

The dried leaf administered orally induced anti-cholinergic and hallucinogenic activity in human adult11.

g-L-glutamyl-aspartate inhibits the central receptors for glutamate, at the hippocampus and striate body levels, and decreases long-term memory7,12.

Atropine contained in the plant is described as a competitive antagonist of acetylcholine and causes blockage of cholinergic receptors (muscarinic type) in several organs.  Its administration leads to mydriasis and cyclopia, bradycardia, skin vasodilation and mucosal dryness; reduces bronchial obstruction, mucociliary depuration, gastric secretion, gastrointestinal and colon (antispasmodic) motility; in the urinary system, it favors vesical retention.  Its penetration in the nervous system is low, therefore, it has limited activity when clinical doses are used13.

A pancreatic polypeptide appears in the blood after rectal administration of suppositories with the plant extract in patients with chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma, as a prognostic indicator of activity14.

According to published and other information:

Use of the flower and the dried leaf for asthma attack and dyspnea is classified as tOxic (TOX).

Given the toxicity of the aerial parts of this plant, its use is discouraged, regardless of how recognized its alleged therapeutic properties may be.

In the event of poisoning from ingestion and/or inhalation of the aerial parts, seek medical attention.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 ALAMI RR, CHRISTENSEN BV, BEAL JL, 1955 A note on the alkaloidal ratios in certain species of Datura. J Am Pharm Assoc Sci Ed 44:710-711.

3 HEGNAUER R, 1973  Chemotaxonomy der Pflanzen. Basel, Schweiz: Birkhauser Verlag. 6:882.

4 SONANINI D, RZADKOWSKA-BODALSKA H, STEINEGGER E, 1970 Solanaceae flavones. 7. Flavonol glycosides from folium stramonii. Pharm Acta Helv 45(2):153-156.

5 TURSUNOVA R, MASLENNIKOVA V, ABUBAKIROV N, 1976  Withanolides of Datura stramonium. Khim Prir Soedin 12:670A.

6 PATE D, AVERETT J, 1986 Flavonoids of datura. Biochem Syst Eco 14(6):647-649.

7 SCHMITZ BOURGEOIS M, AMIRI I, REINBOLT J, BOULANGER Y, UNGERER A, 1988 Isolation and structure of a pseudopeptide gamma-L-glutamyl-L-aspartic acid fromDatura stramonium that impairs learning retention in mice. Biochimie 70(9):1179-1184.

8 PINKAS M, BEZANGER-BEAUQUESNE L, 1986  Les plantes dans la thérapeutique moderne. Paris, France: 2 éd. Ed. Maloine.

9 VINCENT D, LESOBRE R, KAUFMAN E, 1965 An antiasthmatic smoke as an anticholinergic and antihistamic effect. Therapie 20(4):931-952.

10 ITOKAWA H, MIHASHI S, WATANABE K, NATSUMOTO H, HAMANAKA T, 1983 Studies on the constituents of crude drugs having inhibitory activity against contraction of the ileum caused by histamine or barium chloride (1) screening test for the activity of commercially available crude drugs and the related plant materials. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 37(3):223-228.

11 FORNO JR FJ, TERRY RA 1998 Accidental ingestion of jimsonweed by an adolescent. J Am Osteopath Assoc 98(9):502-565.

12 UNGERER A, SCHMITZ-BOURGEOIS M, MELAN C, BOULANGER Y, REINBOLT J, AMIRI I, BARRY J, 1988 Gamma-L-glutamyl-L-aspartate induces specific deficits in long term memory and inhibits [3H]glutamate binding. Brain Res 446(2):205-211.

13 Hardman JG, Limbird LE, Molinoff PB, Eds., 1996 Goodman & Gilman las bases farmacológicas de la terapéutica. 9a ed. México: McGraw-Hill Interamericana: p158-163.

14 ZHANG J, 1990 Preliminary report on the serum level of pancreatic polypeptide in patients with chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma during attacks. Chung Hua Chieh Ho Hu Hsi Tsa Chih 12(3):141-142.

15 KEELER RF, 1981 Absence of arthrogryposis in newborn Hampshire pigs from sows ingesting toxic levels of jimsonweed during gestation. Vet Hum Toxicol 23(6):413-415.

16 GOTO M, NOGUCHI T, WATANABE T, ISHIKAWA I, KOMATSU M, ARAMAKI Y, 1957 Uterus-contracting ingredients in plants. Takeda Kenkyusho Nempo 16:21.

17 HARVEY RB, LARSO AH, LANDON RH, BOYD WL, ERICKSON LC, 1945 Weeds poisonous to livestock. Bull Minnesota Agr Exp Sta 388:1.

18 FERNANDO R, FERNANDO DN, 1990 Poisoning with plants and mushrooms in Sri Lanka: a retrospective hospital based study. Vet Hum Toxicol 32(6):579-581.

19 BALLANTYNE A, LIPPIETT P, PARK J, 1976 Herbal cigarettes for kicks. Brit Med J 2:1539.

20 PEREIRA CAL, NISHIOKA SDA, 1994 Poisoning by the use of Datura leaves in a homemade toothpaste. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 32(3):329-331.

21 GOWANLOCH JN, BROWN CA, 1943 Poisonous snakes, plants and black widow spider of Louisiana. New Orleans, USA: Dept. Conservation, Book.

22 HARRISON EA, MORGAN DH, 1976 Abuse of herbal cigarettes containing stramonium. Brit Med J 2:1195.

23 ODERDA GM, 1975 Jimson weed. J Am Med Assoc 232:597.

24 SCHMIDT A, 1943 Poisoning with stinging nettle tea. Pharm Zentralhalle Dtschl 84:238-239.

25 LAMENS D, DE HERT S, VERMEYEN K, 1994 Tea of thornapple leaves, a rare cause of atropine intoxication. Acta Anaesth Belg 45(2):55-57.

26 SIEGEL RK, 1976 Herbal intoxication. Psychoactive effects from herbal cigarettes, tea, and capsules. J Am Med Assoc 236(5):473-476.

27 GUHAROY SR, BARAJAS M, 1991 Atropine intoxication from the ingestion and smoking of jimson weed (Datura stramonium). Vet Hum Toxicol 33(6):588-589.

28 PARIS R, MOYSE H, 1981 Précis de matière médicale. Paris, France: Ed. Maloine.

29 CHONKEL A, 1985 A propos de quelques graines toxiques existant à la Guadeloupe (Thèse Pharmacie). Faculté de Pharmacie, Montpellier, France.

30 HARDIN J, ARENA J, 1974 Human poisoning from native and cultivated plants. 2nd ed. Durham, USA: Duke University Press.

31 TAH S, MAHDI A, 1984 Datura intoxication in Riyadh. Soc Trop Med Hyg 78(1):134-135.

32 PARRA AL, YHEBRA RS, SARDINAS IG, BUELA LI, 2001 Comparative study of the assay of Artemia salina L. and the estimate of the medium lethal dose (LD50 value) in mice, to determine oral acute toxicity of plant extracts. Phytomedicine 8(5):395-400.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.