Datura: A Deadly Deliriant
By A. Basu1 and S.K. Basu2
Guyana Journal, June 2012
Delirium is a neuro-behavorial disorder which is characterized by disorientation, disturbed consciousness and disturbance in the sleep-wakefulness cycle of a person. It is a common finding in people of more than 65 years of age (Mendez & Gershfield, 2004). But delirium may also be produced in an otherwise healthy person by administration of certain agents in order to perform some criminal activities on that person. Among such agents, Datura (Datura fastuosa) is most readily used (Karmakar, 2007). Other species belonging to the genus are D. hummatu and D. metel. The seeds of Datura contain chemicals like hyoscine, hyoscyamine, daturine and atropine that produce parasympatholytic actions in the central nervous system to cause delirium like symptoms. They are used mainly as stupefying agents to ease the performance of theft, burglary, rape and kidnapping (Karmakar, 2007).
Signs and Symptoms of Datura Poisoning
The symptoms of Datura poisoning are locally described in quite a romantic fashion. They are:
All these features are encountered in the delirium stage of poisoning. In severe cases of poisoning, however, the person may become comatose and death may result from respiratory failure (Karmakar, 2007). Diagnosis of Datura poisoning may be done by the Mydriatic Test (Reddy, 2009).
1Medical College Kolkata, WB India
2Lethbridge College, AB, Canada; Email