Jimsonweed, Devil's Snare
10 - 120 minutes
60 - 120 minutes
5 - 12 hours
2 - 3 hours
6 - 72 hours
8 - 18 hours
Datura (also known as jimsonweed or The Devil's Snare, among numerous other names) is group of a poisonous plants of the nightshade family. Datura stramonium is the has the largest history of use and is the species most commonly used for its psychoactive effects, and this article will primarily refer to it. It is known for possessing powerful deliriant effects due to containing multiple psychoactive compounds. The primary alkaloids responsible for Datura's effects are scopolamine, hyoscamine, and atropine. Scopolamine, the main chemical responsible for its psychoactive effects, is a potent and dangerous toxin that is sometimes used medicinally to treat conditions such as nausea, vomiting, drooling, and motion sickness(Scopolamine - Medical Countermeasures Database)]. Datura has also found a niche spot in the recreational drug scene. While most don't find it enjoyable, it's still one of the most powerful hallucinogenic plants and is used for shamanic purposes and recreationally by daredevils and people who underestimate its effects and toxicity.
As with any type of substance that greatly affects perception of reality, particularly deliriants, there's no way to truly take Datura safely. Datura dosage can greatly differ depending on many factors, due to plants commonly having varying amounts of their alkaloids. The maturity of the plant, temperature, weather, and location can all affect potency. This makes Datura all the more dangerous, as an overdose can be as little as half a teaspoon.  As this makes it hard to predict dosage, It is recommended not to take Datura for this reason.
While planning to take Datura, it's incredibly important to practice standard harm reduction techniques. One must have a good set and setting before partaking in any deliriant. One should be in a positive mood before going into the experience (the set). If one has experienced any major negative event in life, it is not advised to trip on Datura. Another important factor is one's surroundings (setting), anyone who is taking this substance should be comfortable with their environment and any people around them. Any slight fear can be amplified during a trip, so if the person tripping is somewhere where they don't feel safe or with people, they don't know/trust, then paranoia can build up quickly.
Datura can fully impair your ability to differentiate between reality and delusion. It is of utmost importance to have a trip sitter before taking Datura. Not just to help you out, reassure you of your sanity, or prevent you from doing anything that could harm you or others, but also to call emergency services if things happen to get out of hand. Due to dosages of the alkaloids varying greatly from plant to plant, Datura can be dangerous and unpredictable. Datura overdose can result in dangerous heart arrhythmias, seizures, and death.
MAOIs can also increase the potency and duration of Datura, so avoid taking a MAOI for 2 weeks or more before taking Datura. Commonly prescribed MAOIs are rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). MAOIs are also contained in many plants, including tobacco, though it is unlikely that one will ingest enough MAOIs accidentally to be of any concern.
While most don't enjoy the effects of Datura, some individuals may enjoy its effects. Datura isn't very addicting, but can cause cravings for the plant even if the experience wasn't positive.
Trip Sitting Advice
If you're trip-sitting someone who is having a negative experience, first understand that they're heavily intoxicated by the substance. Their perception of reality is extremely skewed, and as such, they might have a hard time recognizing your intentions. If they start saying anything that offends you or acting erratic, don't act mad at them or else you risk making their experience and state even worse. Try your best to remind and prove to them that you're their friend, as the person tripping might have trouble differentiating from what is real and what is not during a state of delirium. Make sure to take a gentle approach to the situation, make sure to comfort them and reassure them that they'll be ok and that they're under the influence of a mind-altering substance (you may need to remind them multiple times, due to the memory problems presented by Datura).
Let them know you're there for them, and that it will all be over soon. If the person tripping starts getting overly aggressive, attempts to calm them down continue to fail, or they start showing symptoms of seizure, heart attack, or other life threatening condition, it is imperative that you contact emergency services without a second thought. In most jurisdictions, neither you or the person tripping will get in serious trouble. Do not let a fear of getting in trouble stop you from contacting emergency services, as lives are on the line in this scenario.
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Rapid breathing
- Skin flushing
- Dryness of mouth
- Difficulty urinating
- Feelings of impending doom
- Feeling of heaviness
- Euphoria or dysphoria (typically the latter)
- Feelings of impending doom
- Short-term memory loss
- Music enhancement
- Increased libido (typically not at hallucinogenic doses)
- Decreased cognitive ability (reported to sometimes last for a short while after the experience)
- Visual distortions
- Vivid, realistic hallucinations
Unlike conventional hallucinogens, Datura's hallucinations blend in with reality, to the point where they often forget they have taken a drug. Extreme impairment is also present, for instance, walking has been described to be "drunk in the middle of a nightmare and every step hurts beyond belief". Remember, deliriants put the user into a state of psychosis.
Only an extremely small minority of users report liking this substance, and an unknown portion of these are reported to use it as a form of chemical self-harm. Effects are generally perceived to be extremely uncomfortable, unsettling, and downright frightening. Some people even claim to have legitimate trauma as a result of experiences with this substance. This, coupled with its disproportionately high toxicity, makes this a poor substance for recreational use. Datura is very similar to Diphenhydramine in terms of effects.
Datura's toxicity and "recreational" effects are the results of antagonism of a set of receptors called the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) caused by the plant's tropane alkaloids (notably Atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine/daturine). Acetylcholine, their primary endogenous ligand, is an agonist and is responsible for many aspects of memory, mood, and cognition as a whole. Through antagonism of these receptors, it induces it's notorious deliriant effects and causes its toxicity towards the kidneys, bladder, heart, and brain. It's additionally a blocker of the hERG and sodium channels, the latter of which is the cause of cocaine's cardiotoxicity, and both actions predispose users to arrhythmias, physical deterioration of the heart, and even cardiac arrest.
Datura has a long history for its use for medicine, magic, and drugging people. In ancient India, Datura was used to treat fevers, reduce inflammation, and to treat certain mental disorders. However, it was also heavily used by a group of thieves known as "dhatureas" to drug victims. It's theorized that Datura got its name from this group.
Notably, Datura was also used when visiting the Oracle at Delphi on the ancient Greek culture. They burned the plant, and its smokes produced a trance-inducing state to those who were there.
Another important use of Datura in history was with the Aztecs. They gave it to human sacrifice victims before removing their hearts. It was also used by Colombian Indians to drug and kill the wives and slaves of prominent dead men by giving them beer laced with Datura. A common name in Mexico for Datura, "Tolguacha", or "the plant with the nodding head", is derived from the traditional Nahuatl name Tolohuaxihuitl.
In 1676, a troop of British soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia boiled up the leaves of Datura stramonium for a meal and went insane for eleven days. The soldiers had no memory of the experience afterward, and were described as acting playful and innocent, like children. Datura has been termed as “jimsonweed” (from “Jamestown weed”) after that event.
The first medicinal use of Datura came in the 1800s when Dr. R. Schiffmann released Asthmador Cigarettes that helped relieve symptoms of asthma. However, due to the growing recreational use of the product, and some people being sensitive to the side effects of the product. That eventually led to a ban on the product.
Some alkaloids in Datura are still used for medicinal purposes, particularly scopolamine. In Colombia and neighboring countries, scopolamine is widely believed to be used by criminals to drug people. It provides them with full control over the person, with the common benefit of the victim not remembering the incident afterward.
Serious side effects of extremely high dosages include arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and increased risk of seizures. Physical activity should be avoided due to increased strain in the heart and to avoid Rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle tissue releasing a harmful protein in the blood). In case of an overdose, it's extremely important to call emergency services and seek medical help. The amount needed to overdose greatly differs from plant to plant, and as such, it's hard to establish an overdose dosage. Please check the blurb on the side to safely consume the plant without overdosing.
As Datura is a common plant, it is legal in most places. It is commonly grown as a garden plant and grows plentifully in the wild.