Plant Profiler

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Atropa belladonna, atropa belladonna-AE, beladona, belladone, belladonnae herbae pulvis standardisatus, belladonna herbum, Belladonna Homaccord, Belladonna Injeel, Belladonna Injeel Forte, belladonna leaf, belladonna pulvis normatus, belladonnae folium, belladonna radix, belladonne, deadly nightshade, deadly nightshade leaf, devil's cherries, devil's herb, die belladonna, die tollkirsche, divale, dwale, dwayberry, galnebaer, great morel, herba belladonna, hoja de belladonna, naughty man's cherries, poison black cherries, powdered belladonna, Solanaceae (family), solanum mortale, solanum somniferum, stryshon, strygium, tollekirsche, tollkirschenblatter.

Mechanism of Action


  • Some pharmaceutical textbooks state that belladonna alkaloids are competitive inhibitors of the muscarinic actions of acetylcholine, acting at receptors located in exocrine glands, smooth and cardiac muscle, and intramural neurons. The belladonna constituent scopolamine exerts greater effects on the CNS, eye, and secretory glands than the constituents atropine and hyoscyamine. Atropine exerts more activity on the heart, intestine, and bronchial muscle, and exhibits a more prolonged duration of action compared to scopolamine. Hyoscyamine exerts similar actions to atropine but has more potent central and peripheral nervous system effects.
  • A single-blind placebo controlled study was conducted to investigate the cardiorespiratory effects of belladonna, as a surrogate measure of vagal activity.2 Single doses of an oral belladonna tincture containing 0.1mg/mL alkaloid concentration were administered, with a proportion of atropine to scopolamine of 20:1. In eight healthy young subjects, heart rate and noninvasive arterial finger blood pressure were recorded for four hours following oral application of 1mL, 2mL, or 5mL of this belladonna tincture, or placebo. The authors reported that one hour after administration of 5mL, mean respiratory rate, heart rate, and baroreflex sensitivity decreased significantly in six of eight subjects. In contrast, following administration of 1-2mL, mean respiratory rate and heart rate increased compared to placebo.


  • Half-life: The belladonna constituent atropine has a reported half-life of several hours and is rarely detectable in the plasma after 24 hours. Elimination half-life of atropine from raw or cooked belladonna berries was reported to be approximately 120-140 minutes in a case report of toxic ingestion.1
  • Excretion: Atropine is primarily renally excreted. Renal clearance of atropine following ingestion of raw or cooked belladonna berries is variable, depending on the form ingested, but may be as high as 3.6mg/24 hours.1


  1. Schneider, F., Lutun, P., Kintz, P., Astruc, D., Flesch, F., and Tempe, J. D. Plasma and urine concentrations of atropine after the ingestion of cooked deadly nightshade berries. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1996;34(1):113-117. 8632502
  2. Bettermann, H., Cysarz, D., Portsteffen, A., and Kummell, H. C. Bimodal dose-dependent effect on autonomic, cardiac control after oral administration of Atropa belladonna. Auton Neurosci 7-20-2001;90(1-2):132-137. 11485281

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