Related entry: Stramonium
"Datura Leaves are the dried leaves of Datura fastuosa, Linn., var. alba, Nees and also of Datura Metel, Linn." Br.
Daturae Semina. Br.
"Datura Seeds are the dried seeds of Datura fastuosa, Linn. var. alba, Nees." Br.
The genus Datura consists of fifteen species, which are distributed throughout the warmer portions of the whole world, the greatest number being found in Central America. Nearly all of them are used locally in medicine. The plants vary from herbs to shrubs and even trees. The leaves of Datura Stramonium are official in the U. S. Pharmacopoeia. (See Stramonium.) The leaves and seeds of Datura fastuosa alba are used in India and the Eastern and West Indian Colonies as an equivalent of Belladonna and Stramonium leaves. A tincture of Datura seeds is used in India as an equivalent of Stramonium seeds.
Datura fastuosa is a small shrub, indigenous to tropical India. There is said to be several varieties of this species and it is very generally conceded to be the most toxic of the Indian Daturas. The leaves are ovate and more or less angular, the flowers being white or purplish. Datura Metel is also an Indian plant and resembles D. fastuosa. It differs in that the leaves are cordate, almost entire, and pubescent. The flowers being white. Pyman and Reynolds (P. J., 1908, lxxxi) have found in the D. meteloides a new alkaloid, which they call meteloidine.
Of the varieties of D. fastuosa, the British Pharmacopoeia recognizes that known as alba. From it the Thugs prepared the poison Dhat (whence is derived the generic name), which they used to stupefy their victims. The leaves and seeds are recognized by the Br. Pharm. 1914, and the leaves are described as "Brownish or yellowish-green, attaining twenty centimetres in length and thirteen centimetres in breadth; ovate, acuminate, with sinuate-dentate margins and long petioles; often unequal at the base; bearing scattered glandular or simple hairs. Characteristic odor; taste bitter." Br.
The trumpet-shaped corolla, together with the stamens, is sometimes found mixed with the leaves. The drug has a slight unpleasant odor, and a bitter taste.
The seeds are "yellowish-brown, somewhat wedge-shaped, flattened, with rounded, thickened, furrowed, wavy margins; from four to five millimetres broad and about one millimetre thick. Hilum large, extending from about the middle to the acute end of the seed. Surface finely pitted and reticulated. Endosperm narrow and translucent, enclosing a curved embryo. No odor; taste slightly bitter." Br.
They contain the alkaloid hyoscine, a resin, a fixed oil and traces of hyoscyamine and atro-pine.
Uses.—While this drug produces effects more or less similar to those of belladonna its precise action has not been clearly determined. It is used in India to a considerable extent as a criminal poison. Banerja (Indian Med. Gaz., 1885, xx, p. 209) has reported 32 cases. The symptoms are not given in sufficient detail to allow of definite statement but seem to differ somewhat from those of either atropine or scopolamine. Gimlette (B. M. J., 1903, i, p. 1137) also records several cases of poisoning and states that the nature of the active principle of the drug has not been determined. In India the Datura fastuosa leaves have been used for the same purposes as the stramonium leaves.
Off. Prep.—Tinctura Daturae Seminum, Br.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.