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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: What is the toxic chemical in Datura metel?


QUESTION:
I would like to know if you have some data on the chemical which is responsible for the poisonous plant datura metel's toxicity and its physiological effect.

ANSWER:

Datura metel is the principal commercial source of scopolamine, as you must know if you are conducting research with it. It grows all over the East Coast here, although it is from China. It is used in the US for motion sickness and in cold medicine mixtures. At the wrong dose it can cause hallucinations, delerium and even death, so I am glad that you are using it with mice and not yourself. There are probably other tropane alkaloids (like hyoscyamine) in there, too.