Medicinal Properties of Solanum
Botanical Name: Solanum Nigrum
Common Name: Black Night Shade, Makoy, Deadly Nightshade
Part Used: Fruits, Whole Plant
Product offered: Seeds, Whole plant, Fruits
Medicinal Action and Uses: The plant has a long history of medicinal usage, dating back to ancient Greece. This species has the reputation of being very poisonous, a fact, however, disputed by recent inquiries. In experimenting on dogs, very varying results have been obtained, which may be explained by the fact that the active principle, Solanine, on which the poisonous properties of this and the preceding species depend, and which exists in considerable quantity in the fresh herb, varies very much at different seasons.
The berries are injurious to children, but are often eaten by adults with impunity, especially when quite ripe, as the poisonous principle is chiefly associated with all green parts. Cattle will not eat the plant and sheep rarely touch it.
It is applied in medicine similarly to Bittersweet, but is more powerful and possesses greater narcotic properties.
Taken internally in very small amounts, the leaves strongly promote perspiration and purge the bowels the next day. The juice of the fresh herb is sometimes used for fever and to allay pain. In large doses, black nightshade can cause serious, but usually not fatal, poisoning. Externally, the juice or an ointment prepared from the leaves can be used for skin problems and tumors. The berries are poisonous, but boiling apparently destroys the toxic substances and makes them usable for preserves, jams, and pies.
The fruit is used as a cosmetic; rubbing the seeds on the cheeks to remove freckles. Children harmlessly and extensively eat the mature fruit. The fruit has been used for diabetes. Decoction of stalk, leaves, roots are good for wounds and cancerous sores. An infusion of the plant is used as an enema in infants having abdominal upsets.
Freshly prepared extract of the plant is effective in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and also serves as an antidote to opium poisoning.
According to Withering and other authorities, 1 or 2 grains of the dried leaves, infused in boiling water, act as a strong sudorific.
In Bohemia the leaves are placed in the cradles of infants to promote sleep. In the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius, the leaves are eaten in place of spinach: and the fruit is said to be eaten without inconvenience by soldiers stationed in British Kaffraria.
It has been found useful in cutaneous disorders, but its action is variable, and it is considered a somewhat dangerous remedy except in very small doses.
The bruised fresh leaves, used externally, are said to ease pain and abate inflammation, and the Arabs apply them to burns and ulcers. Their juice has been used for ringworm, gout and earache, and mixed with vinegar, is said to be good as a gargle and mouthwash.