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Angel's trumpet is a type of flower that resembles a long lily, with large white blooms. Also called jimsonweed, thorn apple, or devil's trumpet, this flower's botanical name is Datura stramonium and it is a member of the solanaceae family of plants, along with tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. The flowers and leaves of this plant are poisonous if ingested in large amounts. In smaller amounts that are properly prepared, it has hallucinogenic as well as medicinal properties.
Angel's trumpet is a perennial shrub that came to North America from South America, but it probably originated in Asia where it has been used in India for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a tropical plant, suited only to warm regions that don't experience freezing temperatures. The flowers bloom at night and give off a strong, sweet scent. Although it is a shrub, this plant is often pruned to look more like a small tree, with bushier growth removed to encourage more blooms.
In the solanaceae family along with angel's trumpet are nightshade and mandrake, two poisonous medicinals that can be used as hallucinogens. Some scholars believe that steam from boiling angel's trumpet was inhaled by the Oracles at Delphi to induce their visions. Like banana peels and morning glory seeds, this flower has a place in modern teenage lore as a cheap way to get high. If the flower or seeds are eaten, smoked, or drunk as tea in small amounts, a person might experience lethargy and hallucinations, but appropriate dosages are not well known. Overdose can cause difficulty breathing and delirium, usually requiring emergency medical intervention.
Today, some prescription medications to treat asthma are made with extracts from angel's trumpet, but aside from this, the plant is generally considered too toxic for conventional medications. Until 1968 in the US, there were several over-the-counter painkillers available that contained extracts of angel's trumpet, but the government banned these medicines because they were being used recreationally as hallucinogens.
In Ayurvedic medicine, this plant is used to treat asthma, malaria and earaches. To treat asthma, the leaves are burned and the smoke is inhaled. The fruit is burned with cow dung and crushed for treating malarial fevers, and an oil prepared from the flower mixed with other herbs can be used directly in the ear for pain relief. Angel's trumpet can also also be used in salves to treat burns and pain from rheumatism.