“BELLADONNA” is one of the most widely used medicines in the entire world. The name “Belladonna” means “Beautiful Woman” in Italian.
For some unknown reason Italian men are fascinated by women’s eyes. Their interest is so specific and so strong that Italian women took advantage of this interest by eating parts of a plant that caused dilation or widening of their pupils.
The dilation or widening of the pupils made women’s eyes more beautiful and hence the name “Bella Donna” came into being. If the eyes were beautiful to begin with, the use of “Belladonna” made them irresistible.
This part of the history of this medicine is extremely interesting, but the history of this plant and its use, not only as a medicine, but also as poison, is even more compelling.
‘THE “BELLADONNA” PLANT
The Belladonna plant comes from a family of plant most of which contain the same ingredients.
Here is the Wikipedia description:
“Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commonly known as Belladonna, Devil’s Berries, Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the family Solanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scopolamine and hyoscyamine which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations, and are also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics. The drug atropine is derived from the plant.”
I first learned about Belladonna as a medication when I was studying pharmacology at the University of Bologna. The other medical students and the Resident Doctors would make fun of the Italian women who used it in the past.
“Le donne sono pazze!” (women are crazy) Their eyes are beautiful, but because they are dilated they can’t see anything. So they go around the streets smiling, with beautiful eyes, but they don’t even know if a man is old or young, handsome or ugly! Che stupidaggine! (What nonsense!)
Since we were studying the drugs that are made from the Belladonna plants, of which there are several very important varietals, we knew the deadly effects they could produce.
Atropine is the most important drug, and it is used extensively in medicine. It is highly toxic and affects the heart and the entire nervous system. It is used in tiny quantities, one hundredth of a milligram, and with great care!
Here is an overview from Wiki:
“The active agents in Belladonna, atropine, hyoscine (scopolamine), and hyoscyamine, have anticholinergic properties.
The symptoms of belladonna poisoning include dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tachycardia, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions.
In 2009, atropa belladonna that was mistaken for blueberries with six berries ingested by an adult woman was documented to result in severe anticholinergic syndrome.
The plant’s deadly symptoms are caused by atropine’s disruption of the parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to regulate involuntary activities such as sweating, breathing, and heart rate. The antidote for belladonna poisoning is physostigmine or pilocarpine, the same as for atropine.”
All these facts were known by the Italian population for centuries; and yet, young ladies would try their luck, generally by drinking a tiny quantity of tea made from the berries, simply to look like a “BELLA DONNA.”
For this reason, we, young medical students would shake our heads and point our right fore-finger to our foreheads and twirl it around. Pazza! (Crazy!)
THE ITALIAN POPULATION GREW
Nevertheless, perhaps because of the beautiful eyes, or the fact that Italy was a very religious Catholic country, where the parents watched their children like hawks and would not let them be friends with the opposite sex unless matrimony was clearly and definitely planned, the population began growing rapidly.
When any population grows, the behavior of the individuals in the population changes.
THE ANALOGY OF THE MOLECULES
The force of the increased numbers of people surrounding the individual changes the behavior of the individual.
Let us make An Analogy of the individual as a molecule surrounded by other molecules within a fixed space. If the number of surrounding molecules were to increase, the number of times that the other molecules would strike the individual molecule would increase.
Within a fixed space, only a fixed number of moves are possible. When we increase the number of molecules within a fixed space, we increase the number times the molecules move; and hence, we increase the number of times the molecules strike each other.
Since we increase the number of strikes, we increase the quantity of energy each molecule receives from the group.
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, AND WE SEE IT PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.
The fundamental principle underlying this analogy is based on THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS: “ENERGY CANNOT BE CREATED OR DESTROYED.”
Since energy cannot be destroyed, it passes from one individual to another. If we increase the number of molecules (or people), we increase the quantity of energy.
Einstein saw this clearly when he described his famous formula: E=MC2. Energy equals Mass (or Number).
THE HISTORY OF ITALY
After the young Italian ladies started drinking Belladonna, and the Italian men married them, the Italian population grew.
In the 19th Century, throughout Europe, the same type of population growth was occurring. Since energy was instilled into the growing population, society began to change.
The 19th Century was the Century of Nationalism.
The Nations that we recognize today were groups of cities or Feudal States prior to the Late 18th Century, the 19th Century and the early 20th Century. Charismatic leaders popped up out of the new multitudes to lead the energized populations into becoming new nations.
In Italy it was Garibaldi; in Germany it was Otto von Bismarck; in France it was Bonaparte (Bonaparte was from a noble Italian family); and King George III who managed to unite (for a while) England and Ireland.
The city states and the feudal states were excellent societies, but the newly energized populations wanted something “better.” What was better, was, in reality, worse.
After all the small states became big states, they started The First World War! It was a war that killed hundreds of millions of people and left five countries destitute. The First World War paved the road for the emergence of dictatorship across Europe.
We all know that the Second World War killed hundreds of millions more and left beautiful cities as mountainous ruins of rubble.
MORE PEOPLE, MORE INSANITY
Drinking poison made beautiful eyes, but having too many people was tragic. The crowds of people pushing each other across Europe gave the human European parasites the chance to herd all the Europeans into a cattle pen.
The European Union was formed and then none of the Europeans knew who was leading and how they were leading. This led to chaos.
The people of Southern Europe abandoned their past of sleeping, drinking and spending their own money, and now slept, drank and spent the money of the other Europeans.
That is where we stand today. Watching Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy struggle not to go into bankruptcy.
All because young Italian women wanted beautiful eyes…