Comparison of Tropane Alkaloid Spectra Between Datura Innoxia Grown in Egypt and Bulgaria

Disclaimer: this is not my study, I ran across it when I was researching the care and feeding of my Datura innoxia plants.

Here is the link: http://www.znaturforsch.com/ac/v59c/s59c0184.pdf

The authors are Strahil Berkov and Rawia Zayed.

If you are interested in the effects of soil nutrition and climate on the medicinal qualities of your plants, this article is a worthwhile read.  This study uses GC-MS to demonstrate the differences between the alkaloids produced in plants raised in Egypt and those raised in Bulgaria.  Both sets of plants are Datura innoxia.

“The alkaloid spectra of Datura innoxia plants grown in Egypt and Bulgaria were investigated by GC-MS.  Thirty-eight alkaloids were detected in the roots, leaves and fruits of the plants.  Five new alkaloids for D. innoxia are reported.  Alkaloid spectra of Egyptian and Bulgarian plants differ significantly in respect to their alkaloid composition and main alkaloids accumulated in the plant organs.

Our results as well as the results of Witte et al. (1987) clearly show that the alkaloid spectra and accumulation in D. innoxia are strongly influenced by the environmental factors.  Concerning this, as well as the relatively high number of alkaloids synthesized by the plant, it is not surprising that new alkaloids are reported for samples from different geographical locations.  In such a case, the application of tropane alkaloids for chemo- taxonomical studies should be very cautiously. (sic) It could be reasonable when the plants are cultivated at identical growth conditions.  thus, the genotype only will determine the alkaloid spectra and accumulation.”

Key words: GC-MS, Datura innoxia, Tropane Alkaloids”

As many of you may know, it was traditional to gather medicines from the same plants and/or in the same areas, year after year. What does this mean for you as a consumer of herbs or as an herbal practitioner?  It means that how the plants were raised and handled before they came into your hands makes all the difference in the world.  According to this study, there were some alkaloids that didn’t even appear in the other group.

If you have read about the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) product of Jitai being used for drug addiction, and that one of the ingredients is Datura flowers, and if you had read the article on the Chinese heroin addiction study ( link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24092568/ ), and you wanted to try to make a salve from Datura, rather than the highly dangerous mode of consuming it internally, this information would assist the herbal practitioner to consistently make the best salve possible.  AND, by growing your own plants, you are the one that controls the quality.  No worries about pollution, contaminants, improper handling and storage, etc.

The variations in the amounts of scopolamine and other chemical constituents are what make using the Solanaceae such a difficult endeavor.   By growing one’s own plants in flower pots or tubs, using optimal soil amendments, it is more logical to expect to have consistent results, since their care and feeding has been controlled and observed by the grower – more so than by purchasing a “green powder” from the cheapest online source.

Processing Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) into canning jars for later use

It’s getting close to freezing temperatures, here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so I harvested my Black Henbane from the greenhouse.  I used Michael Moore’s ratio of 1 part fresh leaf to .5 part alcohol (prior to adding oil and then he gave it a hot oil bath until the alcohol evaporated.)  Henbane is a difficult plant to make into a salve or a tincture, as the fresh leaf dehydrates down to about 1/10th of its weight.  I know this from personal experience, because I kept records of my experiments.  Anyway, I did not want to have the Henbane aromatics off-gassing in the house in this cold weather, so I went for a recipe that would convert it from fresh to oil.  I ended up harvesting 3,000 grams of Henbane and using 1500 grams of 91% rubbing alcohol.  I chopped it up using an old blender from a secondhand store until it was a slurry.  Here’s a tidbit for those of you who will be making salves from fresh leaves – trim off the stems wherever possible, as I missed a few and they ended up packed around the blade at the base of the blender.  Otherwise, my inexpensive blender did the job just fine.

I have not figured out the strength or percentage to use yet, of Henbane to oil.  In the Eclectic’s literature from Henriette’s Herbal website, http://www.henriettes-herb.com/  – they have a salve and liniment that uses between 5 and 10 percent of Belladonna.  I may use that as my starting point later.  I’ll test it on myself before offering it to anybody else -does anybody want to try it later?

I know that with this much moisture in the leaves spoilage is likely (this stuff is like lettuce in consistency) so I decided to use jelly jars and process the Henbane into these small canning jars.  I used my most sensitive scale, and weighed out 150 grams into each jelly jar, before I put the jars into the water bath.  I also checked the length of time for boiling in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, but they didn’t have a specific entry for Henbane.  A bit remiss, perhaps?  They recommended 10 minutes for juices with sugar, and since this doesn’t have sugar, I set my timer for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, it took me longer than I thought to get all the jars filled and into the bath, so some were already hot before I set the timer.  I think some of the alcohol was escaping.  Remember, the contents weighed 150 grams before boiling, but none weighed 150 grams after boiling.  Can anybody help me with figuring out why?

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Here are the jars after I lifted them from the water bath.  Notice the different heights of fluid?  And one obviously had a seal failure, as it is full to the top.  None of these jars weighed the same.  The weights ranged from 110.2 grams to 138.0 grams, excluding the broken seal jar.

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Here is the scale I used.  It is precise enough to use for trade in jewelry and such.  Purchased from Amazon, the model is: “A&D ek1200i Legal for Trade Gold Scale”.   http://www.amazon.com/EK1200i-Legal-Trade-Gold-Scale/dp/B000FA0OH4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444162647&sr=8-1&keywords=digital+jewelry+scale+ek+1200

I am very glad that I purchased it.  Working with such baneful herbs, I really want this precision.  There are too many other variables as it is.  See that bubble on the back, by the cord plug?  That’s to level it.  It has little leveling feet underneath.

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Scale is on, tared to zero.  Weight set for grams.  Ok, how do I rotate this picture?

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One U.S. nickel weighs 5 grams.  This one weighs 5.1 grams.  That’s a way to tell that your scale is calibrated.

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I have beeswax for my salve-making.  It’s in that small granule form, rather than blocks.  Here is one bead of beeswax, it weighs 1/10th of a gram.

Below are a few more, totaling 3/10ths of a gram.

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I want to know how much liquid was lost from each jar, so I tared out an empty jar, lid and ring.

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Now I can simply place the finished jar onto the scale and weigh it.  I don’t know how much fluid they lost or why.  It’s all a learning process, isn’t it?

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The contents of this jar weigh 131.6 grams.

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This one weighs 116.3 grams.  Originally, it weighed 150 grams.

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This one didn’t seal, and it obviously took on water.  I’m thinking I’ll dump this one out.

I could smell the Henbane when I lifted the canning kettle lid.  Since I can see that this jar took on water, I think it’s safe to assume that the water in the kettle also has Henbane in it.  I took all the jars and placed them into the kitchen sink, and washed them all, very gently, with soap and water.  I wear gloves when I am handling this stuff, so if I don’t take the extra precaution of washing the jars (with contents intact), then later on, I will forget about the possibility of Henbane juice on the exterior and handle them with my bare hands.

I am struggling with figuring out what ratio of Henbane solution to use per amount of oil, it makes it even more difficult to test on myself if I already feel the effects just from handling the jars.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to why these jars lost volume?  Do you think it’s because I didn’t boil off the alcohol first, so it vaporized quickly in the water bath?

Whatever the reason may be, I think that I will write on each jar that it is the equivalent of the original 150 grams of Henbane.  I would have to boil off the liquids to make a salve, anyway…

What do you think?

How to process Atropa Belladonna into an ointment

This post takes you from picking the leaves of fresh Belladonna to what the finished ointment looks like.

First, I bought the seeds from a reputable source, someone who has been in business for many years as a seed supplier.  I bought from Horizonherbs.com.  Then, I checked that the plants matched the photos from both that site and from botanical reference sites.  I have seen where someone has mistakenly posted the wrong photograph for Belladonna before, and I wanted to make sure that I had the right plant.  I’m fussy that way.  Proper botanical identification is important to me.

Along the way, I learned that the active ingredients in Belladonna are called Tropane Alkaloids and that the quantity of alkaloids can be increased by the proper care and feeding of my plants.  So, I did that.  I enriched the soil with the big 3 Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash, along with as many trace minerals as I could find.  I also foliar fed once a week with a concentrated Kelp fertilizer, as these plants need lots of nitrogen to produce their alkaloids.  I also read that to pick the leaves around 10 a.m. would be the time of the highest chemically active constituents, so that’s when I harvested leaves.

I researched on which method was best for extracting the alkaloids, and it turns out that a high percent alcohol is best.  Since I am not using this internally, I purchased 91% rubbing alcohol.  The ratio I use is 1:3.  One part fresh leaf to 3 parts alcohol.

When I ran it through the tincture press, I noticed that there was an intense reddish color, and yet also an emerald green.  It was very peculiar.  I thought something was wrong with my product, so I did some more research.  What I found is that the reddish color is a mark of the very best quality.  My hard work in providing the soil nutrition paid off!  Here’s 2 photos:

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I read in this article: “A Treatise on Belladonna” issued by Lloyd Brothers, Cincinnati, Ohio. Copyright 1905. that “our experience teaches that to carry the full structural value of the Belladonna constituents into the Specific Medicine Belladonna (this is a trade name for a high quality product) necessitates the inclusion of the dark-colored semi-resin, between which and the structurally active compound exists a very intricate relationship.”

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Here’s the jar after emptying it into the saucepan.  See the green on the bottom?

Below is the saucepan.  I am boiling off the alcohol outside, as the thought of any quantity of alcohol vapors inside the house just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.  This spoon and pan will never be used for anything else, ever again.  And I am using an old electric hot plate, no gas flames around this stuff!

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Here is what an alcohol based solution looks like when it’s boiling.  Just so you know, water boils at 212 degrees f., and alcohol boils at 173 degrees f.  I don’t know if you can see the vapors arising, this is stuff you do not want to breathe.

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Bottom of the jar with some of the solution dripped into it as I monitored progress.

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The light colored fluid at the bottom of this jar is mostly water.  The upper portion is the Belladonna with coconut oil added in.  All I have to do is to wait for the solution to cool and remove the Belladonna concentrate.

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See how red this looks from this angle?

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IMG_0139 IMG_0140Here are two photos of the salve.  This is after the addition of another 20 parts of coconut oil.  So the ratio is 1:20, one part concentrate and 20 parts coconut oil.  I can see the red pigment in portions of the tins from this angle, yet from the other direction it looks like a dark red salve.

Update on usage, 09/23/2015.  After using the test sample, here’s the results: I personally use only as much as what you would put on your lower lip when applying lip gloss.  DO NOT USE THIS AS LIP GLOSS! I am only stating that I used a tiny bit… and that’s what came to mind for a reference point.  I am around this stuff all the time, so I figure that to use only a tiny bit would be enough.

My volunteer test subject is an adult male, very physically active, and has been a licensed massage therapist for 8 years.  He is very much into alternative medicine and has very good body awareness.  He applied a light coating to his forearms and one knee and developed a headache and light visual disturbances.  He washed off the salve and the effects immediately disappeared.

Obviously, a 1:20 ratio is still too strong.  What we are wondering is if this is a reflex headache from a great deal of muscle tension being released at once?

What do you think?