Erowid References Database
“The legacy of Atropos, the fate who cut the thread of life”.
Anesthesiology. 1998 Jul 05;89(1):241-9.
In the days when no anesthetics were known, when the wounded or diseased must suffer the tortures of amputation, or the rough operations known in those days, with no relief till sheer pain should either kill or produce unconsciousness ‐ here was a plant whose wonderful properties alone had the gift of showing mercy! Here was the ancient anaesthetic of the world, probably discovered by chance by the very witches who dropped its root into their bubbling pots for wicked incantation, and perhaps fell asleep as they inhaled its fumes or partook of their own magic potions. Here was a discovery indeed! 
ANESTHESIOLOGISTS are familiar, at least historically, with the technique of “twilight sleep” used at the beginning of the 20th century, but the current use of anticholinergic agents as antagonists of the side effects of anesthetic and anticholinesterase agents is much more familiar. There was a time, however, when the botanical precursors of these modern drugs, Atropa mandragora (A. mandragora) and Atropa belladonna (A. belladonna), were the state of the art in pain relief. Alone, or in combination with other atropine‐containing herbals such as henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) or hemlock (Conium), they were used as anodyne, soporific, and hallucinogenic agents. This article examines the medical use of these naturally occurring anticholinergic agents from ancient to modern times.
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