Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Datura
Botanical name: Datura stramonium Linn.
Sanskrit: Dhattura, Dusthara, Unmatta, Durdhura
English: White Thorn apple
Hindi: Dattura
Malayalam: Vella ummam
Vella ummam is a foul-smelling, erect annual, freely branching herb that forms a bush up to 2 to 5 feet (60–150 cm) tall. The root is long, thick, fibrous and white. The stem is stout, erect, leafy, smooth, and pale yellow-green. The stem forks off repeatedly into branches and at each fork forms a leaf and a single, erect flower.
The leaves are approximately 3 to 8 inches (8–20 cm) long, smooth, toothed,[3] soft, irregularly undulate. The upper surface of the leaves is a darker green, and the bottom is a light green.[3] The leaves have a bitter and nauseating taste, which is imparted to extracts of the herb, and remains even after the leaves have been dried.
Vella ummam generally flowers throughout the summer. The fragrant flowers are trumpet-shaped, white to creamy or violet, and 21⁄2 to 31⁄2 inches (6–9 cm) long, and grow on short stems from either the axils of the leaves or the places where the branches fork. The calyx is long and tubular, swollen at the bottom, and sharply angled, surmounted by five sharp teeth. The corolla, which is folded and only partially open, is white, funnel-shaped, and has prominent ribs. The flowers open at night, emitting a pleasant fragrance and is fed upon by nocturnal moths.
The elliptic seed capsule is 1 to 3 inches (3–8 cm) in diameter and either covered with spines or bald. At maturity it splits into four chambers, each with dozens of small black seeds.
Vella Ummam is used for the treatment of Rabies .The leaves of this plant helps in the treatment of swelling due to the bite of vipers and poisonous insects.
Vella ummam has long been used as an extremely effective treatment for asthma symptoms. The active anti-asthmatic agent is atropine, which causes paralysis of the pulmonary branches of the lungs, eliminating the spasms that cause the asthma attacks. The leaves are generally smoked either in a cigarette or a pipe. This practice of smoking datura to relieve asthma has its origins in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. After this was discovered during the late 18th century by James Anderson, the English Physician-General of the East India Company, the practice quickly became popular in Europe.
Vella Ummam
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