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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Stramonium consists of dried leaves and flowering tops of Datura stramonium Linn, or its variety D. tatula Linn., belonging to family Solanaceae.





Thorn apple leaves; Jimson or Jamestown weed; Dhatura; Stinkweed; Devil’s apple; Apple of Peru; Folia stramonii.


Biological Source


Stramonium consists of dried leaves and flowering tops of Datura stramonium Linn, or its variety D. tatula Linn., belonging to family Solanaceae.


The drug is required to contain not less than 0.25% of alkaloids calculated as hyoscyamine. Prepared Stramonium is the finely powdered drug adjusted to an alkaloid content of 0.23–0.27%.


Geographical Source


Stramonium is found widely in European, Asian, and American countries and in South Africa. The plant grows commonly in waste places throughout India from Kashmir to Malabar. It is cultivated in Germany, France, Hungary and South America.


Cultivation and Collection


Datura prefers a rich calcareous soil. It can be grown from seeds in spring in drills; the plants are later thinned to stand 3 m apart in raws. The plant is sensitive to frost and sheltered situations are preferred for cultivation. Entire plants are cut down when the fruits are mature. Nitrogen manuring, which favours the growth of plants, also flavours alkaloid formation. At the end of August leaves and flowering tops are collected and dried at 45–50°C.




D. stramonium is a bushy annual herb, 1.5 m high, having whitish roots and numerous rootlets. The dried leaves are greyish-green in colour, thin, brittle, twisted, broken, whole leaves 8–25 cm long and 7–15 cm wide; shortly petiolate, ovate or triangular-ovate in shape, acuminate at the apex and have a sinuate-dentate margin. The margin possesses teeth dividing the sinuses; the lateral veins run into the marginal teeth.




A transverse section of a leaf has a bifacial structure; covered with a smooth cuticle and possess both stomata and hairs. Micro-sphenoidal and prismatic cluster crystals of calcium oxalate are abundant in the mesophyll. The stomata are of the anisocytic and anomocytic types. The epidermal cells have wavy walls. The uni-seriate clothing hairs are three- to five-celled, slightly curved and have thin, warty walls. Small glandular hairs with a one- or two-celled pedicel and an oval head of two to seven cells are also present. The midrib has a bicollateral structure and characteristic subepidermal masses of collenchyma on both surfaces. The xylem is a curved arc. Sclerenchyma is absent.


                           Datura stramonium

Chemical Constituents


Stramonium contains 0.2–0.6% alkaloids. The main alka-loids are hyoscyamine and hyoscine (scopolamine). It also contains protein albumin and atropine.


Atropine is formed from hyoscyamine by racemization. At the time of collection these alkaloids are usually present in the proportion of about two parts of hyoscyamine to one part of hyoscine, but in young plants hyoscine is the pre-dominant alkaloid. The larger stems contain small amount of alkaloid and the official drug should contain not more than 3% stem with a diameter exceeding 5 mm.


Ditigloyl esters of 3,6-dihydroxytropane and 3, 6,7-trihydroxytropane have also been isolated from the roots in addition to hyoscine, hyoscyamine, tropine and pseudo-tropine,


D.stramonium also contains 6-hydroxyhyoscyamine, skimmianine, meteloidine, acetyl derivatives of caffeic, p-coumaric and ferulic acids, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, with anolide I, steroidal glycosides daturataturins A and B; flavonoids chrysins, quercetin and kaempferol and their esters





It is a narcotic, antispasmodic and anodyne drug and used to relieve the spasm of the bronchioles in asthma. The leaves are ingredient of Pulvis stramonii compositus and other powders used for the relief of asthma. The leaves may be made into cigarettes or smoked in a pipe to relieve asthma. They are also used in the treatment of parkinsonism, boils, sores and fish bites. The flower juice is used to treat earache.


The fruit juice is applied to the scalp for curing dan-druff and falling hair. Stramonium ointment, containing lanolin, yellow wax and petroleum, is employed to cure haemorrhoids.


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It is one of the ingredients of the preparation known as Maharasayan vati (Mahaved healthcare).


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