Jimson weed (Datura stramonium, a member of the Belladonna alkyloid family) is a plant growing naturally in West Virginia and has been used as a home remedy since colonial times. Due to its easy availability and strong anticholinergic properties, teens are using Jimson weed as a drug. Plant parts can be brewed as a tea or chewed, and seed pods, commonly known as “pods” or “thorn apples,” can be eaten. Side effects from ingesting jimson weed include tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, blurred vision, hallucinations, confusion, combative behavior, and difficulty urinating. Severe toxicity has been associated with coma and seizures, although death is rare. Treatment consists of activated charcoal and gastric lavage. Esmolol or other beta-blocker may be indicated to reduce severe sinus tachycardia. Seizures, severe hypertension, severe hallucinations, and life-threatening arrhythmias are indicators for the use of the anticholinesterase inhibitor, Physostigmine. This article reviews the cases of nine teenagers who were treated in hospitals in the Kanawha Valley after ingesting jimson weed. We hope this article will help alert primary care physicians about the abuse of jimson weed and inform health officials about the need to educate teens about the dangers of this plant.
Arouko, H., Matray, M. D., Braganca, C., Mpaka, J. P., Chinello, L., Castaing, F., Bartou, C., and Poisot, D. [Voluntary poisoning by ingestion of Datura stramonium. Another cause of hospitalization in youth seeking strong sensations]. Ann.Med.Interne (Paris) 2003;154 Spec No 1:S46-S50. View abstract.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Soneral, S. N. and Connor, N. P. Jimson weed intoxication in five adolescents. WMJ. 2005;104(7):70-72. View abstract.
Difficulty passing urine (urinary retention): Taking jimson weed might make this condition worse.
Seizures: Jimson weed can cause seizures. Do not use jimson weed if you suffer from frequent seizures.
Constipation: Jimson weed might cause constipation.
Marc, B., Martis, A., Moreau, C., Arlie, G., Kintz, P., and Leclerc, J. [Acute Datura stramonium poisoning in an emergency department]. Presse Med. 2007;36(10 Pt 1):1399-1403. View abstract.
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Amlo, H., Haugeng, K. L., Wickstrom, E., Koss, A., Husebye, T., and Jacobsen, D. [Poisoning with Jimson weed. Five cases treated with physostigmine]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 8-10-1997;117(18):2610-2612. View abstract.
Birmes, P., Chounet, V., Mazerolles, M., Cathala, B., Schmitt, L., and Lauque, D. [Self-poisoning with Datura stramonium. 3 case reports]. Presse Med. 1-19-2002;31(2):69-72. View abstract.
Wilhelm, H., Wilhelm, B., and Schiefer, U. [Mydriasis caused by plant contact]. Fortschr.Ophthalmol. 1991;88(5):588-591. View abstract.