Painting of belladonna plant in the style of a botanical illustration with eye and mouth on green background.

Deadly nightshade (Belladonna)

Deadly nightshade was used in ancient Rome to poison arrowheads. 

In the Middle Ages it was used as an anaesthetic in operations. 

A few centuries ago, women in Italy put drops of the berry juice in their eyes to enlarge their pupils and appear more attractive. Hence the name bella donna, ‘beautiful woman’ in Italian.

But belladonna is toxic. It blocks nervous system functions such as salivation, sweating, pupil size, urine, and digestive functions.