Dhattūra (Devil's Trumpet)
Datura metel, D. inoxia
Dhastura is a very potent medicine used since ancient times in Ayurveda. It is very hot and pungent tasting. It is extremely toxic and merely touching the plant may lead to death. Dhastura is used in Ayurveda after shodhana (purification) which is achieved through a process of boiling the herb in milk and then frying it in ghee. There are many deaths recorded from the ingestion of this herb. The native American species (Datura stamonium or Jimsonweed) is responsible for many fatalities each year. In some South American countries Datura is considered sacred and tribal peoples use the native species for rites of passage. The herb creates a state of delirium from which many young boys aspiring to join the ranks of the men do not recover. Severe mental illness and death are common symptoms for those who ingest this plant in its natural state. Dhastura is considered sacred to Lord Shiva / Rudra, the Lord of destruction. Rudra is a fitting Lord for this destructive plant. Many Sadhus in India are seen offering the flowers and seed pods of dhatura in Yajnams (fire ceremonies). The seeds are considered the most potent medicinal part (and the most toxic) of this plant. Dhastura should be handled with gloves and should never be ingested without proper purification and even then only in minute quantities. After purification the seeds can be useful to treat wheezing, cough, congestion, bronchitis, leprosy, rheumatism, colic, and lumbago. The leaves are sometimes smoke as a cure for the acute symptoms of asthma. Licorice is said to help counteract the toxicity of Dhastura. Specific formulations are not given here to discourage people from experimenting with this deadly toxic plant.