Papaver somniferum*


Drug Free Partnership. (n.d.). What are these Drugs?. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Papaver somniferum
Common name: Opium Poppy, Mawseed (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)
Family: Papaveraceae (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)
Parts used: Capsules, flowers (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)

History/Folklore: Opium is extracted from the poppy heads before they have ripened (Grieve, 1971, p. 651). Opium and morphine do not produce the same calmative and hypnotic effects which characterize it’s use in man (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)

Constituents: Alkaloids: Morphine Narcotine, Codeine, Thebaine, Narceine, Papaverine, Codamine and Rhoeadine (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)


  • Hypnotic (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Sedative (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Astringent (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Expectorant (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Diaphoretic (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Antispasmodic (Grieve, 1971, p. 652)
  • Blocks experience of pain (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 365)


Traditional Indications*

  • Pain relief (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)
  • Calm excitement (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)
  • Diarrhoea and dysentery (Grieve, 1971, p. 651)


Cautions & Contraindications

  • Sufficient doses can paralyse both heart and spinal chord (Grieve, 1971, p. 653)


*In Australia Opium is schedualed in any form except the alkaloids noscapine and papaverine (Australian Government, 2013, p. 284)

Melilotus officinalis*


Biocyclopedia. (1864). Melilotus altissimus (as M. officinalis) and M. albus. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Melilotus officinalis
Common name: Sweet clover (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 95)
Family: Leguminoaceae (Grieve, n.d.)
Parts used: Whole Herb (Grieve, n.d.)

Constituents: Coumarin (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 95)


  • Anti-inflammatory (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 95)
  • Vascular tonic (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 95)
  • Anticoagulant (De Smet, Kelle, Hansel & Chandler, 1992, p.15)
  • Aromatic (Grieve, n.d.)
  • Emollient (Grieve, n.d.)
  • Carminative (Grieve, n.d.)


*Traditional Indications

  • Oedema (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 95)
  • Clearing eyesight (Grieve, n.d.)
  • Ear aches (Grieve, n.d.)
  • Headaches (Grieve, n.d.)
  • Ulcers (Grieve, n.d.)

Preparation & Dosage:

The following recipe is from the Fairfax Still-room book (published 1651):

‘To make a bath for Melancholy. Take Mallowes, pellitory of the wall, of each three handfulls; Camomell Flowers, Mellilot flowers, of each one handfull, senerick seed one ounce, and boil them in nine gallons of Water untill they come to three, then put in a quart of new milke and go into it bloud warme or something warmer.’ (Grieve, n.d.)


Cautions& Contraindications

*This herb is not administered in contemporary herbal medicine due to toxicological risk (De Smit et al., 1992, p. 15)

Mandragora offcinarum*

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.41.27 AM

Hashi, M. (2011). Mandragora offinarum. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Mandragora offcinarum
Common name: European Mandrake (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122)
Family: Solonaceae (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122)
Parts used: Root (McGuffin, Hobbs, Upton & Goldberg, 1997, p. 133)

Constituents: Tropane alkaloids (atropin and hyoscyamine) (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122; McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)

Tropane alkaloids are used to form the starting material for a number of commonly prescribes pharmaceutical drugs (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133). They associated with blocking vaginal nerve activity, decreasing heart rate, decreasing peristalsis and relaxation of the gall bladder duct (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 134).


  • Antispasmodic (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)



  • Bronchial Asthma (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)
  • Prevent nausea and vomiting (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)
  • Peptic Ulcer (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)


Cautions & Contraindications

  • Blocks actions of the Parasympathetic branch of the Autonomic Nervous System which may lead to mental confusion, memory loss, dry mucus membranes, nervousness, restlessness and hallucinations (McGuffin et al., 1997, p. 133)
  • Even therapeutic doses may be toxic, and overdose is fatal (McGuffin et al., 1997, pp. 133-134)
  • Symptoms of toxicology include depression, lethargy, ataxia, diarrhoea and death (Hui, Smith & Spoerke, 2001, 234)


*Mandragora offcinarum is schedualed in Australia (Australian Government, 2013, p. 97)


Hyoscyamus niger*


The Herb Museum. (2013). Black Henbane. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Hyoscyamus niger
Common name: Henbane (Hui, Smith & Spoerke, 2001, p. 233)
Family: Solonaceae (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122)

Constituents: Tropane alkaloids incl. atropine, hyscyamine and hyoscine (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122; Hui et al., 2001, p. 233).

Of the Solonaceae herbs, Henbane tends to be weaker, containing only 0.4-0.15% stropine and hyoscyamine, however it contains more scopolamine, which is a sedative compound (McGuffin, Hobbs, Upton & Goldberg, 1997, p. 134)



  • Sedative (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. XXVII)



  • Asthma (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. RS 292)
  • Renal colic (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. RU 232)
  • Intestinal colic (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. GI 133)
  • Bilary colic (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. HB 161)


Interactions: Alcohol, antihistamines and hypnotics (Tsindos & Orrock, 1997, p. XXVII)

Cautions & Contraindications

  • Symptoms of toxicity include: vision disturbance, dry mucus membranes, flushed skin, headache, fatigue, delerium, thirst, difficulty swallowing and speaking, tachycardia, convulsions, coma and death (Hui et al., 2001, p. 233)

*Hyoscyamus niger containing more than 0.03 mg of total solanaceous alkaloids is schedualed in Australia (Australian Government, 2013, p. 40)

Digitalis lanata/D. purpurea*

Digitalis lanata  Flowers JWB12

Red Buttle Garden. (2014). Grecian Foxglove. Retreievd from:

Botanical Name: Digitalis lanata / D. purpurea
Common name: Foxglove
Family: Plantaginaceae (Natural Standard, 2014)
Parts used: Leaves (Natural Standard, 2014)

History: The herb was traditionally used externally to treat swelling, sores and ulcers (Natural Standard, 2014). The modern drug digoxin is extracted from the Foxglove plant (Natural Standard, 2014)

Constituents: Cardiac glycosides (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 139)


  • Heart tonic (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 26)
  • Effector (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 36)


*Traditional Indications

  • Heart failure (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 26)
  • Arrhythmia (Natural Standard, 2014)
  • Oedema (Natural Standard, 2014)


Cautions & Contraindications: Constituents of Foxglove accumulate in the body and can lead to poisoning (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 26)


*This herb is scheduled in Australia (Australian Government, 2014, p. 77)

Datura stramonium*


Go Botany. (n.d.) Datura stramonium. Retrieved from:


Missouriplants. (2004). Datura stramonium L.. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Datura stramonium
Common name: Jimson-weed, Thornapple, Stratmonium, Datura, Devil’s Apple (Grieve, 1971, p. 802)
Family: Solonaceae (Grieve, 1971, p. 802)
Parts used: Leaves and seeds (Grieve, 1971, p. 802)

Taste: bitter and nauseous (Grieve, 1971, p. 805)

History/Folklore: In America the herb is referred to as Devil’s Apple from the dangerous and remarkable effects following it’s administration (Grieve, 1971, pp. 802, 804)

Constituents: Tropane alkaloids (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122)



  • Antispasmodic (Grieve, 1971, p. 805)
  • Anodyne (Grieve, 1971, p. 805)
  • Narcotic (Grieve, 1971, p. 805)


*Traditional Indications

  • Dilating the pupil of the eye (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)
  • Sedating the Central Nervous System (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)
  • Spasmodic asthma (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)
  • Muscular rheumatism (topical) (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)
  • Neuralgia (topical) (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)
  • Haemorrhoids (topical) (Grieve, 1971, p. 806)


Cautions & Contraindications

  • The whole plant is poisonous, ingestion may be fatal (Grieve, 1971, p. 803)
  • When taken in sufficient quantities, effects include
    • Dilation of the pupil
    • Dimness of sight
    • Giddiness and delerium
    • Mania (Grieve, 1971, p. 803)
  • It is said to act more powerfully on the brain in producing delirium (Grieve, 1971, p. 803)
  • Tropane alkaloids are considered highly toxic. A prominent feature is their ability to produce hallucinations and delirium (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 122).

*Datura is scheduled in Australia for oral use in preparations containing more than 0.03% total solanaceous alkaloids. The herb is permitted for smoking or burning (Australian Government, 2014, p. 36)

Convallaria majus*

lilly of the valley

Plinth et al.. (2014). Herbaceous perennial. Retrieved from:

Botanical Name: Convallaria majus
Common name: Lily of the Valley (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)
Family: Liliaceae (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)
Parts used: Dried Leaves (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)

Constituents: Cardiac glycosides (incl. convallatoxin and convallatoxol); saponins (incl. convallarin and convallaric acid); asparagin; flavonoids; essential oil and farnesol (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)



  • Cardio-active (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)
  • Diuretic (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)

Hoffmann describes Convallaria as a valuble heart remedy with an action equivilant to Digitalis without the potential toxic effects, however should only be used under qualified supervision (1990, p. 211)


*Traditional Indications

  • Heart failure (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)
  • Water retention (oedema) of heart (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)
  • Congestive heart conditions (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)


Combinations: Traditionally combines with Motherwort and Hawthorn (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 211)


Cautions & Contraindications: Cardiac glycosides tend to accumulate in the body, which can be both beneficial and dangerous (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 501)