Datura stramonium, also known as Moonflower or Jimsonweed, is a poisonous weed that grows across most of the United States. Moonflower has been used for centuries as an intoxicant and medicinal herb, according to San Francisco State University. Recreational use of Moonflower has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, although the weed is considered highly dangerous for human consumption. Ingesting juice from the plant, eating its seeds or drinking tea made from Moonflower leaves poisons the human body and can have potent and severe effects.
Nervous System Effects
Moonflower contains several compounds poisonous to the human body, including atropine and scopolamine, which both interfere with the nervous system. The CDC reports that a person who has ingested Moonflower may experience hallucinations, anxiety, confusion and, in some cases, coma. Nervous-system effects generally take place within 1 hour of Moonflower ingestion and may last 24 to 48 hours, according to the CDC.
Hallucinations from Moonflower may be either visual or auditory. A November 2006 report in "USA Today" titled "Jimson Weed Users Chase High all the Way to Hospital” reports that some people have severe hallucinations and become a threat to themselves or others.
Hyperthermia, or high body temperature, may also occur from Moonflower ingestion, as the plant interferes with the body’s ability to cool itself. A person may also experience flushing of the skin and skin that is dry and hot to the touch.
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Moonflower increases pulse rate and raises blood pressure. The chemical atropine, contained in Moonflower, may cause cardiac arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm, which may lead to cardiac arrest, according to a 2002 article in "The Permanente Journal" titled “Jimson Weed Poisoning—A Case Report.”
Moonflower may cause nausea or vomiting in some individuals. Urinary retention, or the inability to urinate, occurs in some people under the influence of Moonflower. Chemicals in the plant are antispasmodics that may interfere with the bladder’s ability to contract and release urine from the body. Thirst increases with Moonflower use, as well, prompting increased fluid intake. Medical intervention to prevent urinary system complications may be required for a person who is unable to empty his bladder after using Moonflower. Decreased gastrointestinal mobility also occurs, which prevents the body from expelling chemicals of the plant, causing effects of Moonflower to last for a longer period of time.
Elizabeth Otto has been writing professionally since 2003. She is a licensed emergency medical technician-intermediate with over 10 years of experience in the field. She has worked as a clinical assistant in family health and emergency medicine since 1995. Otto is a freelance writer for various websites and holds an Associate of Science in medical assisting from Commonwealth College.