Henbane has been used as a medicine since ancient times and had a strong reputation as a magical herb that was for instance used in love potions and to induce hallucinations.
In medieval times the herb was popular as a sleep aid and in larger doses used as a deadly poison, often an assassin’s favorite.
The toxic alkaloids in henbane can easily be absorbed through the skin, and the herb was one of the main ingredients of the infamous “witches flying ointment”. The ointment was rubbed onto broomsticks so the toxins would be absorbed through the thin skin of the rectum and vagina.
The intoxicating effects often experienced by henbane poisoning starts with a certain floating feeling which might have given rise to the stories and legends of witches flying on broomsticks.
The herb can cause hallucinations and very vivid dreams, so strong that people sometimes could not distinguish reality from illusion after using the plant.
The main healing properties of the herb are due to the sedative, analgesic and antispasmodic effect the substance hyoscyamine. Henbane was used specifically for pain in the urinary tract, especially in the case of kidney stones.
The sedative and antispasmodic effect makes it a valuable remedy for Parkinson’s disease, where it relieves tremors and stiffness in the early stages of the disease.
The herb has also been used for a toothache and nervous disorders such as mania and hysteria.
The herb has been used as an herbal remedy for bronchitis because of its cough suppressant effect and the ability to clear the breathing passages from secretions.
At one time the dried leaves of henbane were smoked as a treatment for asthma in the same manner as belladonna (Atropa bella-donna) and jimsonweed (Datura Stramonium).
In modern medicine the substance hyocin is used to treat seasickness and as a calming agent in patients preparing for surgery.
Therapeutic oil can be made by allowing the crushed dry leaves of the plant to be soaked in alcohol, mixed with olive oil and then heated in a double boiler so that the alcohol will evaporate.
The oil can be used externally to treat earache, or applied to the skin to relieve pain from neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis, and rheumatic conditions.
Latest posts by Herbal Resource (see all)
- What is Hedge Mustard used for? - May 21, 2023
Leave a Reply