Thorn Apple 

A naturally occurring plant of ubiquitous nature, thorn apple is found in the American regions, France, Germany, and Hungary. The plant is also cultivated in some places for the therapeutic benefits derived from it. The plant has purple stems, irregular leaves, and white or purple-colored flowers in the shape of a trumpet. Thorn apples are walnut-shaped fruits with thorns all over them. When ripe, the fruits explode and release small black seeds that germinate, and the plants grow rapidly over a large area. The thorn apple plant owes its growth to its environment. It can be a leafy bush in moist soil and a thin plant in arid soil. Apple thorn plant is known for its toxicity if too much of the plant is consumed.

Nutritional Information and Properties  

Thorn apple is rich in alkaloids like hyoscine and hyoscyamine, glutamic acids, enzymes, organic acids like oxalic, malic, citric, fumaric, succinic, and lactic acids, ethereal oil, and mineral salts. Some of the alkaloids in thorn apple show similar characteristics to those in another poisonous herb called night shade, which decreases secretions in the body and loosens up soft muscle tissues. The leaves and seeds of thorn apple show anti-asthmatic, anti-malarial, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Though the herb has benefits, an overdose or wrong dosage can have multiple side effects. The herb is toxic if ingested in large amounts. Dryness of throat, itching, and difficulty in breathing can all be indicative of an overdose of thorn apple. In such situations, it is best to approach a certified doctor as soon as possible. Furthermore, owing to its toxic nature, thorn apple should be administered only in right doses by a certified medical practitioner.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

The health benefits and therapeutic uses of thorn apple can be witnessed when the herb is consumed in minimal and adequate doses. Some of these are as follows.

  • The raw leaves of thorn apple are believed to help in healing of open wounds on the body that have become infected. It does so by facilitating the removal of the pus.
  • In the old days, the seeds of thorn apple were rubbed on to the skin of people suffering from aches and rheumatism.
  • The hyoscyamine content in thorn apple is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system, and it is hence used to soothe and calm people with emotional and psychological disorders.
  • The plant is also cut up and burnt to release fumes that are considered to relieve spasmodic asthma attacks in certain individuals.
  • When locally applied on the skin, thorn apple is believed to relieve inflammations, muscular pains, and pain caused by hemorrhoids, fistulas, and so on.

Other Uses

  • The herb was once used to create hallucinations in people and especially, by thieves and robbers to disorient their victims for a period of time.
  • Thorn apple is often likened to poisonous nightshade and belladonna for its hallucinogenic and narcotic effects.
  • Thorn apple leaves can exude an odor that results in dilated pupils of the people who have come in contact with it.
Though it can be cited for a number of medicinal uses, the thorn apple plant is no longer used for therapeutic purposes. In fact, its strong and repulsive odor, which emanates from its leaves, even keeps cattle away from it. Any use of the herb should be strictly under the supervision of a certified physician.