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?

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10 thoughts on “How to process Atropa Belladonna into an ointment

  1. hmm.. i wonder how tense your test subject is for the belladonna to affect him like that. ? would of it been different after some relaxation of some sort.. ? it could of been an allergic reaction to the plant depending the type of the headache.. or you might need a lower dose? gosh so many variables.. i wonder if there is any reports that are useful on erowid?? *ponders all the thoughts*

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    1. Well, dang it, I hit a button and my reply disappeared.
      Hi Polly Lind,
      Glad to hear from you. I have checked erowid.com and lyceum.org and haven’t found anything from someone using Belladonna as a salve. All the info I have been able to find has been where someone was adversely affected because they took it by mouth. I have downloaded pdf files from the Eclectic physicians and the pharmacists/apothecaries of the 1850’s to the 1920’s. They commonly used Belladonna as an antispasmodic and pain reliever in the form of salves, liniments and plasters. I plan to upload their entries on Belladonna, Henbane, Datura, etc., at a later date, as I think we really could use this as another pain management tool. The great thing about salves is that you can control your own dose and if you have a reaction to it, just wash with soap and water. It’s not like taking a pill that was designed for the average 180 pound male. (Or whatever it is these days, I forget the details.)
      We are wondering if there was a drug interaction between the muscle-relaxer tendencies of Belladonna and the vaso-dilator tendencies of Fo-Ti, which is also used similarly to Gingko Biloba. The two herbs together would have had a synergistic effect of dilating the blood vessels in his head until a head-ache occurred.
      You bring up a really good point on how tense was he when the Belladonna got into his system, and he remembered later that he had been doing a lot of heavy lifting with his head turned over his shoulder, so his neck was really tense and sore. You know how it is when you over-do some sort of physical activity and the next day your muscles are complaining? It was a situation like that, only the chemicals that make the muscles hurt got released all at once. He had used the Belladonna salve like we would use over the counter pain ointments today, and that brought up another point, was that I need to make it weak enough so that people can start from a point that they are already used to, and then use more if they need it.
      I know that I don’t think clearly when I am in pain, I just want to slather something on that will make it stop!
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Good points!
      Molly

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    1. We think that he used too much. It’s easy to forget the strength of a classic or old time dosage, when you get used to being able to slather on any amount of a lotion or an ointment as is standard by the current over the counter type supplies.
      I think he had forgotten my instructions on just using a tiny bit to start out. Easy to do when you’re in a lot of pain. I think I should develop a series of different strengths, so those who aren’t used to it can feel confident about working their way up. Belladonna used to be used for blood congestion to the head – it was part of the “Belladonna Cure” that was used on Bill W. when he finally had his experience that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Belladonna and Henbane were used in the old Sanitariums after the Civil War for alcoholics and tuberculosis sufferers and what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They help the brain to shut down when there’s been a trauma that’s continually relived. And I think that’s what may have happened here, was that my test subject used too much and went from pain relief and inner bully relief straight to an effect to his brain-case.
      Thanks for your reply, you’ve given me something to think about. I perhaps should do a blog post on uses of Belladonna and Henbane for those who are suffering from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.
      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. I’m very interested in growing my own poison plants & making salves. Right now the strongest plants I grow & ingest in teas are Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris ) and Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium )
    Anyway- I bought Belladonna salve from
    Fern & Fungi.com made by Sarah Anne Lawless. We emailed to talk of any allrgies to morphine or salician I might have. I tested a small portion of on my wrist. Then added more gradually. No ill effects but slight headache.
    The second time I used it on my feet for some chronic pain. Excellent pain killer! Slight headache so I drank more water. Sarah’s website states the Belladonna is good for migraines. I wouldn’t drive after using it but my vision wasn’t affected. I used two dime sized portions which rubbed into both feet nicely. I think your friend did too much as my vision wasn’t affected. Thanks for your article!

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    1. No, I don’t wear a mask when boiling off the alcohol. The fumes will penetrate any regular mask. I would need an independent air supply to really do any good. You are wise to be nervous about breathing the fumes. I place a fan in position to blow fresh air directly on me and I still am affected by the fumes. I plan to not do anything other than lay around for the next day, just in case.
      Are you making some now? What ratios did you use in yours?

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  3. Hello again. I posted a few months back & reread some posts I missed about trying out the salves. You’ve probably done the research by now on the side effects of Nightshade ointments. I’ve been working with Datura, Henbane, Mandrake, Belladonna & Brug salves. The Brug is homemade. I knew the expected side effects before I ever tried any them. Been researching them for years. Reading entire books on the subject. Not ancient articles.There’s alot of current info out there! Nightshades HAVE psychoactive effects. You get a mild high, a sense of well being, wherever the salve goes, the pain you have goes away. Better than any narcotic EVER! I have severe nerve damage, 5 level fusion, wrap around nerve pain, 3 sciaticas , Sacroilliitis & severed nerves in foot. I’m also a Witch (not Wiccan) Belladonna is extremely dehydrating! These plants ARE POISON. …you take great care when cooking but seem in the dark about the plant’s effects. Why aren’t the cooks trying the finished product?
    Maybe you are. If so, I correct myself. The cooks need to experiment on themselves.If you’re afraid to then you shouldn’t be cooking. Slathering it on, freaking out when the test subject’s vision changes & trying to wash it off after it’s been absorbed shows me someone needs to do some CURRENT research.Vision changes are a Bella side effect – like Wormwood ingestion . I have many links but you may have already done this. Stay away from Erowids. That site can’t even agree on Wormwood’s psychoactive effects!(not psychedelic ) It’s full of people wanting to get high, with no respect for the plants.
    Are you reading anything by Christian Ratsch, Dale Pendell, or Sarah Anne Lawless? How about the Merck Index?
    If not, you should be!
    Not being mean, this is just serious stuff! Be careful using it. It will knock you down, lay you out, & bitch slap you into next week- you’ll also lose all sense of time.Your breathing will get realllll sllllloow. I know- It happened to me. I have much experience with things of this nature so I rolled with & learned from it. Respect Those Plants – lol- play safe kids 😉 😉
    Artemisia

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