Known as Toloache by the Aztecs (and probably used by most Mesoamerican cultures before them), this beautiful representative of the Datura genus just recently began opening its flowers in my garden. It blooms in the evening, pollinated by night-flying moths, with huge (8"+) flowers and a sweet aroma that sets it apart from its cousin, the Jimson weed (D. stramonium).
Many members of the Solanaceae (Nightshade family, perhaps my favorite plant family though the Araliae are right up there) possess alkaloids like scopolamine and hyoscyamine which have the ability to limit the action of the parasympathetic nervous system (they are so-called parasympatholytics). This yin-like side of our nerve networks promotes rest, digestion, and reproduction, and actively counterbalances the more yang-like sympathetics continuously.
By taking a plant like Datura, you can effectively inhibit yin function for a time, starting first at the physiological level and eventually at the level of the mental and energetic bodies. Small doses relax muscles, open airways, and provide a gentle warmth. As the dose is raised, heart rate increases; there is a loss of motor function; and convulsions, delirium, hallucinations, and finally death ensue. Internal use is generally not a good idea - the yang demons that are called into the human are generally unpleasant, and can be downright dangerous. Topical use, however, is a different story.
Of the parts of this plant, the seed is certainly the strongest. Leaves are next, and the root is milder. So to make a salve from D. stramonium, we recently took the black seeds from three of the thorny, opened pods and crushed them in a mortar and pestle. Keep in mind, there were enough seeds to kill all seven of us, had we taken them orally.
Crushed ripe seeds from 3 seedpods (about 2 TBS)
Seven fluid ounces of oil: olive, almond, or grapeseed
soak the seeds in the oil, while heating in a double boiler
after an hour (or more), strain and return to the double boiler
8/10ths of an ounce, by weight, of beeswax (about 23 grams)
when the beeswax is melted, add:
1 fluid ounce of the infused oil of Arnica [optional]
1/4 tsp. of Rosemary essential oil [optional]
stir quickly and pour into jars
The last two ingredients enhance the pain-relieving power of this salve, by reducing swelling and stimulating circulation. Datura was always traditionally used as a topical pain reliever for rheumatism, "bone aches", sprains, and wounds. This version is quite effective - but use only a little bit, and some sensitive individuals may feel a disturbance in their personal fields by even a small brush with this powerful plant. More flowers are set to bloom - I look forward to admiring this moonflower under the Full Moon!