Home Herbal Monograph Thorn Apple

The Sanskrit name 'Dhatura' includes all the species and varieties of the plant, but sometimes specifies whether the black or white variety is to be used. Hindu physicians frequently prescribed the drug in fever with catarrhal symptoms, mixed with other ingredients. Physicians of southern India recommended smoking the leaves in cases of spasmodic asthma. The juice was given with curd to treat intermittent fevers. It was frequently added to 'Kaita,' an intoxicating drink prepared from the fruit of Feronic elephantum, and consumed by the lower classes during the Holi festival. Several species of Datura are mentioned under the name of 'Jouz-el-mathil' in Arabian literature. The author of 'Makhzan' recommended that preference be given to the purple variety, which is more powerful than the white and was used for local applications to relieve the pain of tumours, piles, etc. Roasted leaves applied to the eyes gave relief in opthalmia. Corolla with wine formed a tincture used as an anesthetic in China.


It grows in waste lands, along the roadside and railway lines, and in scrub-jungles throughout the tropical parts of India.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a spreading herb sometimes becoming shrubby. Leaves are ovate-lanceolate or broadly ovate, acute or acuminate, unequal at the base and often cordate, entire or dentate, sub-glabrous or with greyish tomentum, generally glandular in a long petiole of up to 10 cm in length. Flowers often double or triple. Calyx is inflated towards the middle, persistent and reflexes in fruit. Corolla is about twice as long as the calyx, white or tinged with green, pubescent outside and with the 10 toothed limb. Capsule is globose, tuberculate or muricate, borne on a short thick peduncle, which, unlike that of D.stramonium, is never erect but nodding. It dehisces irregularly exposing a mass of closely packed, light brown, flat seeds which nearly fill the interior.

Principal Constituents

Scopolamine (Hyoscine) is the major active constituent of the plant.


Scopolamine has analgesic and sedative actions and produce amnesia1. It also has anti-inflammatory property.


The whole plant is considered poisonous. The alkaloid Hyoscine in large doses causes delirium, coma, and even death2


It is applied to swellings, tumors and rheumatic pains. Its decoction is used for eye diseases. The flowers are used in asthma.

  1. Harbone, J.B., et. al. (Eds.), 1999, Phytochemical Dictionary, Taylor and Francis, London.
  2. Yussuf, Int. J. Pharmacogn., 1991, 29, 252.