All about Henbane

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All about Henbane

Henbane Quick Facts
Name: Henbane
Scientific Name: Hyoscyamus niger
Origin Mediterranean countries and western Asia
Shapes Urn-shaped capsule with a lid-like top
Taste Leaves and seeds are unpleasant, bitter, and acrid, leaves are also gluey
Health benefits Reduce Lice, Reduce Cough, Reduce body Pain, Reduce Eye Inflammation, Reduces Nausea, Reduces skin Inflammation, Reduce Headache
Henbane, whose botanical name is Hyoscyamus Niger, is actually a member of nightshade family or Solanaceae. This family consists of nearly 98 genera and some 2, 700 species of plant. Some of the plants belonging to this family are extremely toxic like Datura, Mandragora and Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade). The plant is probably widespread to the Mediterranean countries and western Asia, but is now extensive in many parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The species has been introduced and naturalized in North America, Brazil, Australia and many other countries. Other popular common names of the plant are Black henbane, Common henbane, Henbane, Hog’s-bean, Stinking-nightshade, Stinking nightshade, chupa mieles, tian xian zi, devil’s eye, Fetid nightshade and Jupiter’s bean.

The plant henbane derived its scientific name from the Greek terms ‘hys’ meaning pig and ‘kyamos’ meaning bean. Therefore, it is not surprising that the toxic plant is safe for consumption by pigs, while it is harmful for humans. It is used in Ayurveda and Unani medicine system for treatment of variety of diseases. It is also used as substitute of opium because of its hypnotic, hallucinogenic, narcotic, and sedative properties.

Plant Description

Henbane is an erect viscidity, hairy annual or biennial flowering, herbaceous and poisonous plant, belonging to Solanaceae family and is found all over the world. It is a biennial herb that grows up to 25-100 meter tall. The plant is found growing in waste ground, roadside, soil heaps, fields, church lands, ruins, mills, harbors, slopes, near road and sands by river. The plant prefers sandy to sandy loam soils with high organic matter but it does not perform well in sodic soils. The plant has branching taproot and sparsely branched, densely leaved, sticky, densely hairy stems. There are two forms of the plant, an annual and a biennial. The annual grows during the summer to a height of 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 feet) and then flowers and sets seed. The biennial produces during the first season only a tuft of basal leaves, which disappear in winter and leave underground a thick fleshy root. The following spring, the plant produces a branched flowering stem, which is usually much taller and more vigorous than the flowering stems of the annual plants.


The leaves of the basal rosette are alternate and often have stalks almost as long as the blades. The stem leaves are alternate, shallowly lobed, and gray-green with conspicuous pale veins. Covered with short, sticky hairs, the leaves have a foul odor.

Flower & Fruit

Flowers occur both at the ends of the stems in long, leafy spikes and singly in the spaces between the leaves and the stem. Each flower is composed of sepals fused into an urn shape and petals fused into a funnel shape with unequal lobes. The flowers are pale yellow with conspicuous purple veins and a purple throat. At their bases, the flowers are densely covered with long, glandular hairs. Black henbane flowers June through September, but the annuals tend to bloom later in the season than the biennials. The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule, or a dry fruit composed of more than one carpel that opens at maturity. The fruits are about one inch long, with hundreds of tiny seeds. The fused sepals loosely enclose the fruit and conceal it from view. A single plant can produce up to 8,000 seeds. The whole plant has a powerful nauseous odor.

Health benefits of Henbane

Henbane is one of the herbs that are recognized for their amazing healing benefits. Though, there are sufficient quantities of poison available in this herb yet, is widely combined with other components to treat numerous health ailments. Listed below are few of the health benefits of Henbane

1. Reduce Headache

Henbane juice when mixed with vinegar and applied on forehead and shrine enables one to sleep in running high fever and helps to get rid of headache. Henbane is well known for its narcotic properties.

2. Reduces skin Inflammation

Henbane leaves tincture is prepared by soaking leaves in alcohol and olive oil. Use of this tincture mixed in hot bath water is considered effective in soothing the skin. Poultice of crushed fresh leaves applied on inflammation caused due to gout and sciatica assists in lessening the pain.

3. Reduces Nausea

Drugs obtained from Henbane herb are vital for treating muscular contractions, irritating nerves and hysteria. Restlessness, nausea and vomiting are some adverse effects of henbane.

4. Reduce Eye Inflammation

Henbane is vital in relieving pain that occurs due to muscle spasm, resulting from cold and tender bladder. Henbane leaves when applied on eyes calm inflammation of eyes. Henbane seed oil is useful in curing ear related ailments.

5. Reduce body Pain

It impacts the nerve cells by relaxing them and making the person drowsy and at the same time it works to relieve from pain. This property of Henbane finds its usage in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

6. Reduce Cough

Tincture or juice of soft tissues present in stem can be used to calm irritated nerves, hysteria and irritant coughs. The herb is similarly useful in treating asthma, pertussis or whooping cough and sickness related to bowels. Henbane is affective in relieving pain that occurs due to kidney stones and abdominal cramps. This herb is also used to reduce urinary tract pain.

7. Reduce Lice

This herb is vital in relieving pain that occurs due to muscle spasm, resulting from cold and tender bladder. Henbane leaves applied on eyes calm inflammation of eyes. Henbane seed oil is useful in curing ear related ailments.

Traditional uses and benefits of Henbane

  • It is used extensively as a sedative and pain killer and is specifically used for pain affecting the urinary tract, especially when due to kidney stones.
  • Its sedative and antispasmodic effect makes it a valuable treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, relieving tremor and rigidity during the early stages of the disease.
  • All parts of the plant, especially the leaves and the seeds, can be used since they are anodyne, antispasmodic, mildly diuretic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative.
  • Plant is used internally in the treatment of asthma, whooping cough, motion sickness, Meniere’s syndrome, tremor in senility or paralysis and as a pre-operative medication.
  • Henbane decreases mucous secretions, as well as saliva and other digestive juices.
  • Externally, it is used as an oil to relieve painful conditions such as neuralgia, dental and rheumatic pains.
  • Leaves should be harvested when the plant is in full flower and they can then be dried for later use.
  • Seed is used in the treatment of asthma, cough, epilepsy, myalgia and toothache.
  • Seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have a bitter, acrid taste with a neutral and poisonous potency.
  • They are used in the treatment of stomach/intestinal pain due to worm infestation, toothache, inflammation of the pulmonary region and tumors.
  • Fresh leaves, crushed and applied as a poultice, or fomentation, will similarly relieve local pains of gout or neuralgia.
  • Extract, in form of suppositories, is also often used to alleviate the pain of hemorrhoids.
  • Compound liniment of Henbane, when applied to the skin, is of great service for relieving obstinate rheumatic pains.
  • It helps in countering Brain disorders like Epilepsy, Motion Sickness and Insomnia.
  • It is beneficial in treating Nervous disorders namely Parkinson’s disease and Neuralgia.
  • It acts as an herbal remedy for Toothache.
  • It is used in Eye Operations for Pupil Dilation.
  • It is favorable in treatment of Ear ailment like Meniere’s syndrome.
  • Henbane is a good herbal cure for diseases namely Whooping Cough, prolonged Cough, Asthma, Bronchitis leading to Respiratory discomforts.
  • It is powerful in soothing the inflammation due to Pulmonary Tumor.
  • It efficiently treats Skin troubles like Ulcers and Scars.
  • Henbane balances the release rate of the Digestive juices thus, prevents Indigestion and Digestive Tract complaints.
  • It relieves Intestinal cramps as an outcome of Worm Invasion.
  • Henbane is a good herbal remedy for swelling, muscular troubles like Myalgia and Joint troubles like Rheumatism, Arthritis and Gout. Apply the paste of Henbane on the affected area to treat Joint Effusion, Gout and Bleeding External.
  • It helps combat Paralysis.
  • Henbane is beneficial in curing Urine infections and regulating the Urine flow.
  • It relieves tremors and stiffness in the early stages of the disease.
  • The herb has been used for a toothache and nervous disorders such as mania and hysteria.
  • The herb has been used as an herbal remedy for bronchitis because of its cough suppressant effect and the ability to clear the breathing passages from secretions.
  • Dried leaves of henbane were smoked as a treatment for asthma.
  • Oil can be used externally to treat ear ache, or applied to the skin to relieve pain from neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis and rheumatic conditions.
  • It is helpful remedy for Insomnia, due to its property of producing hypnosis / inducing sleep.
  • Pills made with Hyoscyamus Niger seeds, fresh ginger juice and wine is taken in the morning before meal to treat gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Ash of Hyoscyamus Niger seeds can be applied externally to treat malignant sores.
  • Dried dates and Hyoscyamus Niger seeds are burned into ashes which can be taken with soup to treat chronic diarrhea with watery stool.
  • Powdered Hyoscyamus Niger seeds (fried) are applied on affected part to treat rectal prolapse.
  • Medicated wine with Hyoscyamus Niger seeds can be heated and taken to treat mania.
  • Powdered Hyoscyamus Niger seeds are taken with water to treat difficulty swallowing, swollen tonsils, throat tightness as well as acute mastitis.
  • Pills made with Hyoscyamus Niger seeds (fried), aconite, licorice root, trogopterus dung and rice paste is taken orally to relieve wandering pain in rheumatic arthritis.
  • Smoke of burning Hyoscyamus Niger seeds can be inhaled to treat tooth decay.
  • Ointment made with mutton fat and Hyoscyamus Niger seeds are used externally to treat injuries from falls, fractures, contusions and strains.
  • Decoction of Hyoscyamus Niger seeds, butter and red dates is taken orally to treat coughing up blood (hemoptysis).
  • When combined with vinegar and applied to the forehead and temples, it was believed to relieve headaches and fevers.
  • Necklaces were made from the root, then hung around children’s necks as charms to prevent fits and to ease teething.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Henbane

  • Libido Loss Male: Take Indian Spider Plant, 1 tbsp of Liquorice, 1 tbsp of Trailing Eclipta ( Bhringraj), 5 tbsp of Velvet Bean, 1.5 tbsp of Ginger, 1 tbsp of Black Henbane, 2-3 pinches of Black Cumin. Powder them together. Have half teaspoon with water.
  • Ascaris: Make the powder of Henbane herb. Mix it with a little amount of Jaggery. Take it with water every early morning for two weeks.
  • Aphrodisiac: Smoked Henbane seeds acts as an Aphrodisiac and relaxes the muscles.
  • Insomnia due to stress: Prepare a powder by mixing powder of Amla, Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, Shatavari, Ashwagandha, and Khurasani ajwain in equal amount. Take this powder in dose of 3 grams with milk. Take daily for three months.
  • Pain in ear: Cook seeds of Khurasani ajwain in sesame oil. Let it cool and instill few drops in ear.
  • Intestinal parasites, roundworm: For parasitic infestation, eat 10 gram jaggery empty stomach in the morning. After that eat 200-500 mg of its seeds powder.
  • Urinary problems, stones: The Satva of seeds is given in dose of 12 drops, 3-4 times a day.
  • Rheumatic pain, joint pain: The seeds are cooked in sesame oil and massaged on affected body area.
  • Pain in liver: The seeds oil is applied externally on affected area.
  • Tooth problems: Make the powder by grinding equal quantity of Henbane and resin together and after that press it under the teeth. Toothache is cured by using this process.
  • Gums bleeding: Gargling with decoction of Henbane leaves twice a day prevents bleeding from the gums.
  • Stomach worms: Take 5 grams jaggery in the morning and after sometime, takes 1 to 2 grams soaked Henbane (soak in water for 1-2 days). Using this process kills stomach worms and brings out them from anus.
  • Stomach pain: Take 2-4 drops of Henbane oil with 1-gram powder of dry ginger and take 15-20 milliliters decoction of aniseed. Stomachache is cured by using this process.
  • Liver problems: Henbane oil should be coat on the liver because it ends chronic pain of the liver.
  • Urinary problems: This disease is cured by taking 15 to 20 drops oil of Henbane seeds 3-4 times a day. It also ends retention of urine and breaks stone.
  • Uterus pain: If any woman has been suffering from uterus pain, make a stick (batti) from Henbane and put it in the vagina, it provides relief from uterus pain.
  • Arthritis: Make Henbane seeds warm with sesame oil and rub it on the affected part; it provides relief in pain of rheumatism and waist pain.
  • Breast pain and swelling: Grind Henbane seeds with wine (alcohol) and coat it on the breast, it ends breast swelling and provides relief in pain.

Other Facts

  • Leaves scattered about a house will drive away mice.
  • Single plant can produce up to 8,000 seeds.
  • Gloves should be worn during collection because of the toxicity of the herb.
  • Spells and rituals use henbane in baneful magic (harmful magic), to attract love, divination, and to bring rain.
  • Henbane is considered a witch plant.


  • Henbane can be toxic, even fatal, to animals in low doses.
  • All parts of the plant are very toxic.
  • It can cause dizziness, nausea, dry mucous membranes in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing, fever, hallucinations (often with erotic content), rapid pulse and respiration, increasing blood pressure, seizures, numbness and an urge to rest and sleep.
  • In severe cases the herb can be deadly, causing cardiac arrest or respiratory paralysis.
  • Henbane is a dangerous and highly poisonous plant and it should never be used by pregnant or lactating women and children.
  • Other precaution is to avoid in tachycardia (increased heart rate), heart failure, down syndrome, fever, urinary retention, narrow angle glaucoma.
  • Not enough is known about the safety of putting henbane oil on the skin.







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