The poisonberry plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, the same family as the potato, and both plants contain the same active component: solanine in their leaves and fruit.
This plant is native to the Americas, where ancient natives called it chichiquelite and used it in popular medicine. The Spanish conquerors introduced it to Europe, where it quickly spread.
Poisonberry Scientific Facts
- Other names: Deadly nightshade, garden nightshade.
- French: Herbe maure.
- Spanish: Hierbe mora.
- Environment: Common in warm areas of Europe and America, it grows in woods, by walls, and also in unfarmed lands.
- Description: Plant of the Solanaceae family, growing from 10 to 30 cm high. The dark-green leaves have irregular edges. The flowers are white, and the fruits, blackberries.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The leaves and the stem.
Healing Properties and Warning
The green parts of this plant contain a glycoalkaloid: solanine, whose concentration increases with the average temperature of the climate in which the poisonberry grows. Solanine acts powerfully on the nervous system, provoking muscular relaxation, analgesia, and narcosis. It has antispasmodic, analgesic, and sudorific properties when taken internally, but the plant is currently only used externally because of its effects on the nervous system.
On the skin, poisonberry acts as a sedative and emollient substance. It is applied as lotions, compresses, or poultices, to alleviate pruritus (itching) on the vagina or the anus and to sedate the skin itching from scabies, ringworm, herpes, or any other type of rashes.
WARNING! The berries, sweet in taste, are poisonous, though they are not deadly.
How to use poisonberry
- Lotions with the fresh juices of the leaves and stems.
- Compresses soaked in the fresh juice.
- Poultices with the leaves, mashed.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 729. Print. [poisonberry plant]