Jimsonjade, known by the common names jimson weed, ditch weed, Good weed, loco weed, Korean morning glory, Jamestown weed, thorn apple, angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, devil's snare, devil's seed, mad hatter, crazy tea, malpitte, and, along with Datura metel, zombie cucumber is a common weed in the Nightshade Family. It contains tropane alkaloids that are sometimes used as a hallucinogen. The active ingredients are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths, are reported from recreational use.
Jimsonjade is an erect annual herb, on average 30 to 150 cm (1-5 feet) tall with erect, forking and purple stems. The leaves are large, 7 to 20 cm (3-8 in) long and have irregular teeth similar to those of oak leaves. The flowers are one of the most distinctive characteristics of Datura stramonium: they are trumpet-shaped, white to purple, and 2-7 in. (5-17.5 cm) long. The flowers, with the same fragrance as Mirabilis jalapa, open and close at irregular intervals during the evening, earning the plant the nickname moonflower. The fruit are walnut-sized, egg-shaped, and covered in prickles, they split into four chambers, each chamber with dozens of small black seeds. All parts of the plant emit a foul odor when crushed or bruised.
There is a mnemonic device for the physiological effects of datura/atropine intoxication: "blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as a beet, hot as hell, dry as a bone, the bowel and bladder lose their tone, and the heart runs alone." Another rhyme describing its effects is, "Can't see, can't spit, can't pee, can't shit." Regarding Datura, among the Navajo is the folk admonition, 'Eat a little, and go to sleep. Eat some more, and have a dream. Eat some more, and don't wake up.' The actual effects are reported to be: cycloplegia and mydriasis (extreme dilation of the pupil), flushed, warm and dry skin, dry mouth, urinary retention and ileus (slowing or stopping of intestinal movement), rapid heart beat, hypertension or hypotension, and choreoathetosis/jerky movements. In case of overdose the effects are hyperthermia, coma, respiratory arrest, and seizures. The vast majority of atropine-poisoning cases are accompanied by delirium with visual and auditory hallucinations.
The effects of Datura have been described as a living dream: consciousness falls in and out, people who don't exist or are miles away are conversed with, etc. The effects can last for days. Tropane alkaloids are some of the few substances which cause true hallucinations which cannot be distinguished from reality. It may be described as a "real" trance when a user under the effect can be awake but completely disconnected from his immediate environment. In this case, the user would ignore most stimuli and respond to unreal ones. This is unlike psilocybin or LSD, which only cause sensory distortions.
If taken recreationally and the user does not notice any conscious effects, many people redose thinking it's not working, which is why overdoses are common. The user doesn't realize that he or she was hallucinating. Some users have reported seeing an array of people from their lives. A few anecdotal reports also mention the user's perception of "phantom cigarettes"; the person believes that he or she is smoking a cigarette only to find that it has disappeared later, thus realizing that it never existed. This hallucination is reported among both smokers and non-smokers. There have been reports of the user interacting with other unreal objects also, such as looking down and seeing a cigarette lighter in one's hand then dropping it, and after a minute or two of searching, the user often realizes that this lighter or any other unreal object never existed. Returning to "reality" from datura-induced hallucinations is often coupled with momentary disorientation. At the peak of such experiences users often enter a true psychotomimetic state, in which they "lose touch with reality" altogether; at this point, many find it difficult or impossible to communicate with others.
A majority of users who have written reports on experiences with datura have described those experiences as unpleasant and sometimes terrifying. This is possibly due to their having taken excessive doses. The powerful effects of Datura continue until the body metabolizes the tropane alkaloids.
Scopolamine is the primary hallucinogen in Datura wrightii from California and other Daturas. Scopolamine can be slowly and erratically absorbed into the brain. In most people, scopolamine reaches the brain within an hour or so after ingestion and causes visual and auditory hallucinations. In about 25% of people, scopolamine is very slowly absorbed into the brain, taking up to 13 hours to enter the brain. These are the people who are at the highest risk of overdosing. They become impatient waiting for the recreational high and take more of the plant extract.
In the United States it is called jimson weed, gypsum weed, angel trumpet, hells bells, the secret killer, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers were secretly or accidentally drugged with it, while attempting to suppress Bacon's Rebellion. They spent several days chasing feathers, making monkey faces, generally appearing to have gone insane, and indeed failed at their mission:
There was a time when stramonium, a drug obtained from the leaves and seeds of Datura stramonium, was used medicinally (Herbalgram). The alkaloid was known as daturine. From the seeds was made extractum stramonii. The tinctura stramonii was made from the leaves. Stramonium was used to relax the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes, and thus it was used to treat an asthmatic's bronchial spasm. Cigarettes were made of stramonium leaves which could be smoked; or the tincture was taken internally. Frequently the leaves were powdered together with equal quantities of the leaves of Cannabis and Lobelia mixed with potassium nitrate, and were burned in an open dish. The preparation was reported to give off dense fumes which afforded great relief to the asthmatic paroxysm. Around the turn of the century numerous patent "cures" for asthma contained these ingredients in varying proportions. Daturine was also used to treat acute mania as hyoscyamine was said to produce sleep. Because of the dangers of tropane poisoning, datura is not used medicinally today, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed it to be unfit for human consumption. However, atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine are FDA approved drugs that are used everyday for a variety of conditions.
The antidote of choice for overdose or poisoning is physostigmine.