Belladonna is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia Minor, but is now grown quite often in the United States, Europe, and India. While growing in the wild, which Belladonna commonly does, a slight dose can be fatal. The nickname "deadly nightshade" is a good clue of its potency. When Belladonna was first used it was for cosmetic purposes. Women felt that if they used it to dilate their pupils, they would look more sexy and alluring. This explains the name Belladonna, which means "beautiful lady" in Italian.
The most important contribution from Belladonna is atropine, which is an important agent that is useful in dilating the pupils of the eye. Some cough syrups are known to contain atropine and are used for bronchitis and whooping cough. Atrophine is also used to soothe the stomach lining prior to an anesthetic being administered and also for peptic ulcers. However, even small doses of atropine can cause the heart rate to increase.
Belladonna also has other great benefits for purposes of what it is used for today as it has the ability to dry up bodily fluids such as breast milk, saliva, perspiration, and mucous. The alkaloids in Belladonna are used for gastrointestinal disorders, such as colitis, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, colic, diarrhea, and peptic ulcer. It also works for asthma, excessive sweating, excessive nighttime urination and incontinence, headaches and migraines, muscle pains and spasms, motion sickness, Parkinson's disease, and biliary colic.
Quite often, Belladonna is used as homeopathic remedies, such as the common cold, earaches, fever, menstrual cramps, sunstroke, toothaches, headaches, sore throats, and boils. How the patient ingests and how much they ingest is determined by several actors, such as their symptoms, mood, and overall temperament. When Belladonna is administered for homeopathic use it is highly diluted because of its toxicity.
No one should ever use Belladonna as a self help measure. It should only be taken under the care of a qualified doctor. The doses given off Belladonna are always in very low doses. When Belladonna is prescribed, it is either added to sugar pellets or mixed with other types of drugs. So while it is clear that Belladonna is an extremely dangerous herb, it is also very beneficial when used correctly.