Henbane is a deadly poisonous plant with a long history of medicinal and magical uses. It is often found in marshy and damp meadows in Europe and Western Asia and belongs to the nightshade family.
Henbane contains a toxic neurotoxin that can cause serious harm when ingested or absorbed through contact with eyes, skin, or nasal mucosa. It also has scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine, which are responsible for its sedative, hypnotic and anesthetic effects.
Henbane has traditionally been used in shamanic rituals and magical practices to induce visions, prophetic dreams, and hallucinations. It was also used as a painkiller to treat stomach and abdominal cramps, headaches, arthritis, and toothache.
Henbane’s poisonous properties were utilized in ancient poisons, such as the concoction used by Socrates in 399 BC. It was also used to reduce fertility in livestock.
Ironically, henbane has also been used in homeopathic medicines to treat asthma, mental disorders, and gastrointestinal issues. Its tea was also used as a sleeping aid.
Henbane smells unpleasant and is not commonly used to make perfumes or cosmetics. The leaves and flowers have been used in tinctures, teas, and poultices to treat a variety of medical ailments.
Henbane essential oil is an active ingredient in some mead-based drinks in vaporizers that treat asthma, bronchitis, and rheumatism. Henbane leaves are also useful for making herbal extracts.
One of the earliest mentions of henbane comes from the Greek myths of Charon, who ferried souls across the river Styx. In some versions of the legend, Hermes gave Charon a coin soaked in henbane juice to ensure obedience.
Henbane has been associated with witchcraft since ancient times. They used henbane plants to make ointments, potions, and incense to conjure spirits and influence weather in medieval Europe.
Henbane is sometimes used to make recreational herbal beer and wines. Modern-day psychonauts also use it for its psychedelic and hallucinogenic properties.
Henbane grows best in damp, shady areas and well-drained soils. It is not frost-resistant and prefers warm climates.