Montana Public Radio

Datura: Delirium, Broomsticks, And Divination

Oct 24, 2014

Datura metel. (CC-BY-2.0)
Credit David Dickerson

Medicinal use of datura - also known as moonflower - is so ancient, no one is sure where the plant originated. Two important nervous system depressor drugs, atropine and scopolamine, are derived from it. Oracles in the Americas and Greece used it for divinations. Witches in medieval Europe applied it to their skin in ointments. And when modern-day researchers experimented (a risky proposition; one of the researchers died) with those old witches' recipes, they reported intense dreams of flying. Broomstick, anyone?

(Podcast: "The Plant Detective," 10/25/14)