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Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
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The drug as well as the plant known as deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna, which belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae). The belladonna plant (see illustration) is a coarse and poisonous perennial herb native to the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Asia Minor, but is now grown extensively in the United States, Europe, and India. During its blooming period, the leaves, flowering tops, and roots are collected and dried for use. The plant contains several important medicinal alkaloids; the chief one is atropine, which is used clinically to dilate the pupil of the eye. In addition, belladonna is used pharmacologically as a respiratory and cardiac stimulant, an anticholinergic, and a homeopathic remedy. See also: Alkaloid; Atropine; Pharmacognosy; Poisonous plants; Solanales
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