Jimson weed (Datura stramonium, a member of the Belladonna alkyloid family) is a plant growing naturally in West Virginia and has been used as a home remedy since colonial times. Due to its easy availability and strong anticholinergic properties, teens are using Jimson weed as a drug. Plant parts can be brewed as a tea or chewed, and seed pods, commonly known as “pods” or “thorn apples,” can be eaten. Side effects from ingesting jimson weed include tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, blurred vision, hallucinations, confusion, combative behavior, and difficulty urinating. Severe toxicity has been associated with coma and seizures, although death is rare. Treatment consists of activated charcoal and gastric lavage. Esmolol or other beta-blocker may be indicated to reduce severe sinus tachycardia. Seizures, severe hypertension, severe hallucinations, and life-threatening arrhythmias are indicators for the use of the anticholinesterase inhibitor, Physostigmine. This article reviews the cases of nine teenagers who were treated in hospitals in the Kanawha Valley after ingesting jimson weed. We hope this article will help alert primary care physicians about the abuse of jimson weed and inform health officials about the need to educate teens about the dangers of this plant.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — It’s called ‘the Devil’s Weed,’ but unlike bath salts and synthetic marijuana, the latest unorthodox deadly toxin people are using to get high is about as common as crabgrass, and could be growing in your backyard.
Datura Stramonium, also known as ‘Jimson Weed,’ is a wild plant that grows across the U.S. It also can make a person hallucinate for several days — and even die.
‘When it comes on, you start feeling weird and stumbly and your vision kind of decreases a little bit,’ a Datura user named ‘Mad Mike’ says in a Youtube video.
When these three chemicals are used separately under the supervision of a medical professional, side effects are controlled, and the drugs are generally safe. However, when used in combination as in Daturas, they are very dangerous and easy to overdose. The signs of an overdose include an inability to tell reality from fantasy, high body temperature, tachycardia, violent behavior, and pupil dilation.
Treating overdose usually involves using activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the drugs and intravenous physostigmine to cross the blood-brain barrier and calm aggravated receptors. However, this antidote cannot be administered to those with heart problems and may only work temporarily, which is another reason that Datura overdose is so dangerous.
What Are Some of the Effects of Datura?
Datura is a flowering plant often used in ornamental gardens for the beautiful pastel trumpet-shaped flowers it produces. Datura is the genus with between nine and twelve species under its umbrella. As part of the nightshade family, it has been part of religious and cultural rituals for thousands of years, especially in ancient Chinese medicine. The plants grow to about three feet tall all over the world in tropical and moderate climates. Datura seeds develop inside a capsule covered in spines; as it ripens, it splits open and distributes the sees onto the ground.
Also known as Jimson Weed, moonflower, devil’s weed, or thornapple, Datura is a poisonous plant that is unfortunately often abused in recreational use because it produces hallucinations and intoxication that can last for days. Users may ingest the Datura, smoke it, or use it as a lotion on the skin. Sadly, many people die of Datura overdoses because it is so easy to misjudge how much of the drug you’re taking. As little as 15 grams of Datura, which is between 15 and 25 seeds, can be a fatal dose. The side effects on the body can last long after the “high” wears off.
Datura has a variety of physical effects on the human body. Here are a few, but there are many more.
Mentally, Datura can cause amnesia, confusion, psychosis, and hallucinations, in addition to altering mood and emotional expression. If a person takes too much Datura but not enough to overdose, the consumer may still experience something similar to a hangover as the drug metabolizes. The individual may feel some anxiety, dehydration, sleepiness, and light sensitivity, as well as other symptoms.