Also known as Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna -“beautiful woman”- gets its name because it was used to make the pupils of women dilate, which was considered attractive in Renaissance Italy.
It is an incredibly deadly plant, eating a few berries is enough to kill a child, but ingesting any can cause flushing of the face, dry mouth, lack of sweating, blurred vision and sensitivity to light, dizziness and unsteady on the feet, through to palpitations and an increased heartbeat, pounding headache and fatigue.
Fortunately for us, Homeopathic preparations of Belladonna are safe and effective. In fact, poisons make some of our best remedies (Nux Vomica, and Lachesis are two other examples).
Belladonna is a remedy found in many first aid kits, and is certainly one I have used many times for my children. It is commonly used for fevers in children- they will have a high fever that comes on suddenly, they look flushed and red in the face, their eyes are staring, dilated and glassy, and despite the fever they are not thirsty. Some children may have febrile convulsions with a Belladonna type fever, or delirium and hallucinations. I would like to make a note here that Belladonna may not lower the fever like paracetamol or ibuprofen, in fact that is not even the goal of Homeopathy, we are trying to support the body not work against it. In some cases it may lower the fever, or it may reduce it just a little so febrile convulsions are no longer a concern, but more often I see a change where the child who was miserable and lying down is now happy to play with their toys and get on with things. The fever is still there but it is no longer bothering them in the same way, it is just supporting that immune response.
Belladonna was also one of the early remedies that Hahnemann used, back when Homeopathy began in the late 18th Century. We have Belladonna to thank for our ability and knowledge of how to use homeopathic remedies to prevent infectious diseases- known as Homeoprophylaxis. In 1799 there was an epidemic of Scarlet Fever in the town where Hahnemann was living and practicing. He noted that if one member of the family got Scarlet Fever, invariably all the children in the family did. However he was treating one child with Belladonna for an unrelated condition, who then did not get Scarlet Fever when their siblings did. Scarlet Fever has the common symptoms of fever, red rash, sore throat and a strawberry tongue, all of which are Belladonna characteristic symptoms. Hahnemann postulated that the reason this child did not contract Scarlet Fever was because of the treatment with Belladonna, and a whole new paradigm of prevention of disease with safe and effective Homeopathic remedies was born.
Belladonna is a fantastic remedy for sunburn and sunstroke. Hot, and red, they may be thirsty or thirst less (commonly no thirst with fever, with sunstroke in later stages they actually are not thirsty as the body’s temperature gauge is so deranged). There may be a throbbing or pounding headache, and in later stages there can be delirium or hallucinations.
Belladonna Headaches are pulsating, throbbing, and intensely painful. It is a fantastic remedy for sore throats which are dry, bright red, and worse on the right side. Tonsils can be enlarged and the throat feels constricted.
Belladonna is also well known for a dry, tickling cough that goes all night. This is the cough that will keep the whole family awake.
The things to look for with Belladonna is the sudden onset, high fever, bright, red and hot, and throbbing or pulsating pains.
An essential remedy if you have children and for colds with winter coming up.