Growing up, my “playground” was a huge yard with fruit trees, seasonal veggies and plenty of empty space. It also housed an abundance of weeds and wildflowers. Every summer, one flower in particular would catch my attention. It had large, fragrant white flowers and low growing light green foliage.
This “moonflower” (as I called it) made a nice bouquet for our kitchen table. I was quite taken with the sweet scent of the flower and enjoyed inhaling its fragrance as I picked my bouquets. My family admired my constant decoration of the kitchen table with various “weeds” which made me feel rewarded and kept me at it. Years later, I discovered the plant’s name was datura, also known as jimson weed, devil’s trumpet, angel’s trumpet, or thorn apple. Luckily, picking the flowers didn’t expose me to the hallucinogenic effects of the plant. Or maybe it did and my family blamed it on raging teenage hormones? (I’ll never know).
Datura is in the Nightshade family and tea made from the plant is reported to have stronger hallucinogenic properties than both peyote and LSD! Native Americans of the southwest called the plant Sacred Datura and used it to make and break hexes, to cause sleep and induce dreams, and to help young people undergo the rite of passage into adulthood. Another interesting use of this plant was to help one find one’s “Totem Animal.” The preparation and imbibing of tea from this plant was always done under the care of a Shaman. The Shaman or Medicine Man/Woman knew which plants could help neutralize the dangerous effects if needed. Today, datura is still widely used in the Caribbean.
The parts of the plant that contain the active chemicals are the leaves, roots, and seeds. After drinking the tea, a person may experience sweating, salivation, widespread paralysis of the parasympathetic system (controls breathing, salivation, defecation) and acute psychosis or delirium. This whole process would (hopefully) help the person who drank the tea reach whatever goal they sought under the care of the Shaman (or drive them crazy).
Datura is very lethal in high doses. Here’s an interesting post by someone who ate seeds from the plant. His experience indicates some long-term ill effects from messing with Mother Nature without the help of a Shaman. Silly silly! This includes boiling up any kind of roots, leaves, or flowers from your garden and making a tea, or swallowing a bunch of herbal pills or supplements. Use caution when messing with these kinds of things, or you could find yourself in a whole lotta trouble!