Henbane

What other names is Henbane known by?

Beleño, Careillade, Devil's Eye, Fetid Nightshade, Fève à Cochons, Hen Bell, Herbe aux Engelures, Hog Bean, Hyoscyami Folium, Hyoscyamus niger, Jupiter's Bean, Jusquiame, Jusquiame Noire, Khurasani-Ajavayan, Parasigaya, Poison Tobacco, Potelée, Stinking Nightshade, Tue Poule.

What is Henbane?

Henbane is a plant. The leaf is used to make medicine. Don't confuse henbane, sometimes called "fetid nightshade" or "stinking nightshade," with bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) or deadly nightshade (belladonna).

Henbane leaf is used for spasms of the digestive tract.

Some people apply henbane leaf oil directly to the skin for treating scar tissue.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Spasms of the digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines.
  • Treating scar tissue, when the leaf oil is used on the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of henbane for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Henbane work?

Henbane contains chemicals, such as hyoscyamine and scopolamine, which might relax the muscles lining the digestive tract. Henbane might also relieve muscle tremors and have a calming effect.

Are there safety concerns?

Henbane is possibly safe for most people when taken by mouth for a short time with the help of a healthcare professional. Side effects include dry mouth, red skin, constipation, overheating, reduced sweating, vision disturbances, increased heart rate, urination problems, drowsiness, restlessness, hallucinations, delirium, manic episodes, and death.

Henbane is UNSAFE when used for self-medication. Since henbane can be very toxic, the dose must be carefully chosen and side effects checked by a healthcare professional. Too much henbane can cause poisoning and death.

Not enough is known about the safety of putting henbane oil on the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don't use henbane if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Henbane is UNSAFE because of its risk of poisoning.

Heart conditions such as heart failure or irregular heartbeat: Don't take henbane if you have heart failure or irregular heartbeat. There are chemicals in henbane that could cause rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and also make heart failure worse.

Constipation: Don't take henbane if you are constipated. There are chemicals in henbane that could make your condition worse.

Down syndrome: Don't give henbane to people with Down syndrome. They are likely to be especially sensitive to the toxic effects of henbane.

Fever: Don't use henbane if you have a fever. There are chemicals in henbane that may raise your body temperature even higher.

Narrow-angle glaucoma: Don't take henbane if you have narrow-angle glaucoma. There are chemicals in henbane that could make your condition worse.

Trouble urinating (urinary retention): Don't take henbane if you have trouble urinating. There are chemicals in henbane that could make your condition worse.

Digestive tract conditions such as heartburn or "gastroesophageal reflux disease" (GERD), a hiatal hernia, an infection, stomach ulcer, constipation, a blockage, ulcerative colitis, a serious condition called toxic megacolon, or other digestive disorders: Don't take henbane if you have any of these conditions. There are chemicals in henbane that could make your condition worse.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Henbane contains chemicals that cause a drying effect. It also affects the brain and heart. Drying medications called anticholinergic drugs can also cause these effects. Taking henbane and drying medications together might cause side effects including dry skin, dizziness, low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, and other serious side effects.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).

Dosing considerations for Henbane.

The appropriate dose of henbane depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for henbane. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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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.


Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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