- henbane and hallucinations
- Henbane is known under many names, including stinking nightshade and Herba apollinaris. The term comes from the Anglo-Saxon noun hennbana, which means killer of hens. It refers to a compound of Hyoscyamus niger,aplant of the Solanaceae family indigenous to Asia and Southern Europe. Henbane has been used since ancient times as an aphrodisiac, a therapeutic, an " entheogen, an anaesthetic, and a poison. Its use for magico-religious purposes in ancient times was documented by the Roman natural philosopher Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79). The primary psychoactive constituents present in the leaves and seeds ofhenbane are the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and hyoscine (i.e. scopolamine). The symptoms of henbane intoxication are quite similar to those of belladonna and atropine intoxication. They include mydria-sis, blurred vision, tachycardia, vertigo, a sense of suffocation, an extremely dry throat, constipation, urinary retention, " illusions, hallucinations, " delirium, sopor, and eventually coma and death. These symptoms are mediated via the inhibition of the action of acetylcholine at the acetylcholine receptor in the nerve synapse, thereby blocking the physiological function of the parasympathetic nervous system. The initial effects tend to last for 3-4 h, but hallucinatory aftereffects may continue as long as 3 days. A person intentionally employing henbane for the purpose of exploring the psyche may be called a " psychonaut. Henbane is only infrequently used for recreational purposes. It carries with it a serious risk of accidentally overdosing, but its lack of popularity as a recreational drug is due primarily to the adverse anti-cholinergic effects.ReferencesRätsch, Chr. (2005). The encyclopedia of psychoactive plants. Ethnopharmacology and its applications. Translated by Baker, J.R. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.