2BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, Canada (Occupational and Environmental Health Division, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Background: Datura stramonium is a poisonous and common flowering plant that is a member of the Solanacae family. Datura poisonings are a rare occurrence in the 21st century, making toxicological information on this plant sparse. Historical information on Datura provides useful information on the clinical symptoms and characteristics of poisonings. This review looks at the state of knowledge on Datura’s chemical properties and clinical characteristics in the 18th and 19th century. Methods: A literature review was conducted, and an online database search identified 197 articles. Ultimately 42 articles met the search criteria and were included for review. Results: Medical literature on Datura focused predominantly on clinical poisonings, medical treatments, and identifying its chemical properties. Clinical poisonings included cases of accidental and intentional poisonings, and provided information on the age of patients, their symptoms, and treatments. Datura was also used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma, inflammatory diseases, epileptic seizures, and hallucinations. Chemical experimentation on Datura commonly looked at isolating alkaloids and assaying their concentrations in various plant organs. Conclusion: Historical literature on Datura shows that cases of poisoning were a common occurrence. These historical sources provide useful information on Datura poisoning’s clinical findings, and preliminary uses of Datura in medical treatments. Early chemical exploration of Datura also set the groundwork for future research.