Useful information

Bittersweet nightshade: medicinal properties

As it is incomprehensible from the name of the plant, whether it is sweet or bitter, it is impossible and unambiguous to say whether it is harmful or useful. Let's try to figure it out.

Let's start with what it is. Popular names are generally discordant and do not cause much respect for this plant: privet berries, wolf berries, worm, viper grass. But there are also names that suggest its medicinal properties: scrofula, mother grass.

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)


Liana for the temperate zone

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) belongs to the nightshade family and is distributed in the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, North Africa, East and West Asia and North America. In our country, it can be found throughout the European part of Russia (except for the extreme north, Trans-Volga and Lower Volga regions), in the Caucasus, in the south of Western and Eastern Siberia. The plant prefers rich and fertile soils in damp swampy forests, along the banks of rivers and lakes, forest edges, among willows.

The life form of the plant is a shrub, but some authors consider it a liana. Climbing stems, up to 5 m long, with a lignified lower part. The leaves are alternate, oblong-ovate, entire, sometimes with ears at the base. Purple flowers, resembling potato flowers, are collected at 8-18 in almost corymbose drooping inflorescences. Fruits are juicy, polyspermous, ovoid, bright red berries. Blooms from May to September. The fruits ripen in July-September.

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Active ingredients

The steroid alkaloids characteristic of the genus nightshade are also present in bittersweet nightshade. In steroid nightshade glycosides, compounds with 3-4 sugar residues predominate. Steroidal glycosides are found in the aerial parts of the plant (0.3-0.6%), mainly in the leaves (more than 1%), flowers and fruits, in the stems they are present in minimal amounts. In fruits, the content of alkaloids reaches 0.3-0.7%.

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) Many steroidal alkaloids of the genus nightshade are divided into two groups, according to their aglycone:
  • Spirosolans (solasadine and tomatidine)
  • Solanidins (solanin, hakonin).

Bittersweet contains spirosolanes and is subdivided into 3 chemotypes:

  • Eastern European - dominated by tomato.
  • Western European - dominated by soladulcidin (5,6-dihydrosolasodine).
  • Solasodyne type is quite rare.

Steroidal saponins are composed of the aglycones yamogenin, tigogenin and diosgenin with two sugars. Sugar chains can be in different positions in the molecule.

Flavonoids were found in the leaves and flowers of this plant: quercetin, kaempferol, 3-glucoside and 3-rhamnosylglucoside of kaempferol, triterpenoids (obtusifoliol, cycloeukalenol), sterols (sitosterol, campesterol), phenol carboxylic acids, higher aliphatic alcohols.

The action of steroidal alcoholicosides

They exhibit the action characteristic of saponins, but to a lesser extent. They form complexes with sterols of cell membranes and thus can dissolve the membranes of animal and plant cells. Therefore, a cytotoxic and hemolytic effect is manifested.

Special studies of the action of steroidal glycosides and their aglycones have shown:

  • Suppression of biotransformation of barbiturates and prolongation of sleep in experimental animals (solanine).
  • Positive inotropic effect on an isolated frog heart (tomato, a-solanine, solanidin).
  • Prevention of anaphylactic shock in guinea pigs. For solasodin, a cortisone-like effect has been established.
  • Anti-inflammatory effect in rats with kaolin arthritis.
  • Reducing the permeability of the vessel walls.
  • Adrenal hypertrophy with prolonged use (weaker than that of cortisone).
The stimulation of phagocytosis was observed in mice under the action of the extract from the stems and leaves of nightshade. Clinical experiments with solasodine citrate showed that a dose of 1 mg po twice a day. within 30 days (3 days reception, 1 day - no) acts cardiotonically.In addition, solasodine citrate at this dose has shown a desensitizing effect, especially in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Solasodin can serve as a raw material for the production of steroid hormones. For these purposes use nightshade lobular(Solanum laciniatum), nightshadebordered(Solanum marginatum), Solanum khasium... At high dosages, they act like saponins.

Lobular nightshade (Solanum laciniatum)Lobular nightshade (Solanum laciniatum)

Hazardous properties and first aid


Green berries contain up to 2% steroid glycosides. Ripe fruits contain much less of them. But the old literature describes cases of fatal poisoning even with red fruits.

Poisoning most often occurs when eating (especially by children) attractive-looking red berries. Unlike black nightshade, red nightshade fruits do not lose their toxic properties when ripe. There are also cases of poisoning of careless lovers of herbal medicine.

Symptoms of nightshade poisoning are similar to those of green potatoes. In case of an overdose, the glycosides contained in nightshade irritate the gastrointestinal tract, cause vomiting, when absorbed and enter the blood, they cause hemolysis of erythrocytes, nephritis, and affect the nervous system.

Symptoms appear quite quickly, within a few hours. First, there is a state of stunning, an uneven wobbly gait, dilated pupils, arrhythmia. Then there are pains in the stomach and intestines, diarrhea, vomiting.

In case of poisoning, it is necessary to wash the stomach with a suspension of activated carbon (30 g per 0.5-1 l of water) or 0.1% potassium permanganate solution. And in case of severe poisoning, it is necessary to urgently call a doctor, as you will need injections of camphor, cordiamine, caffeine-sodium benzoate, as well as a dropper of isotonic sodium chloride, which is quite problematic to do at home.


Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Bittersweet nightshade as a medicinal plant

Bittersweet nightshade has long been used in medicine. Mentions of him are found in Hippocrates and Galen.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, it was considered a remedy for evil elves - fabulous creatures that inhabited forests and meadows. In the old German herbalists it is called Alfenrkraut - the herb of the elves. Johannes Schroeder writes in his herbalist in 1693 that Alfenrkraut should be placed in a cradle for children to prevent the evil eye (witchcraft). And what helps people, then it is suitable for animals. Hieronymus Bock, in his 1587 herbalist, mentions that shepherds wear a necklace made from this plant to cattle so that harm does not happen to the animals.

Old recipes recommend nightshade as a remedy "for poor juices in the body." K. Linnaeus recommended it for rheumatism, gout and ... syphilis.

In 1835, the famous Odessa doctor A. Nelyubin reported on the use of bittersweet nightshade stems in the treatment of ulcers of scrofulous, scurvy and venereal origin. He recommended nightshade for many nervous diseases - hypochondria, hysteria, convulsions. In Siberia, they drank an infusion of nightshade and washed themselves with an infusion of melancholy.

German folk medicine recommends tincture as a "blood purifier" for urticaria, lichen, boils, abscesses, as well as for diseases of the bladder and urinary tract. R.F. Weiss, a classic of German herbal medicine and author of numerous textbooks, recommends nightshade as a powerful remedy for "dyscrasia" and for skin diseases associated with metabolic disorders.

In French folk medicine, the plant was used for coughs, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and also as a diuretic.

In folk medicine, nightshade is used for increased sexual excitability, as an antiphrodisiac agent, as well as for inflammation of the bladder and cystourethritis.

In traditional medicine, it is recommended for skin conditions such as itchy eczema to take 0.1 g of herb powder 3 times a day.

The daily dose should be 1-3 g of raw materials (herbs). You can not use only the leaves, as they contain much more active ingredients. Only 4 g of leaves can cause severe poisoning.

When used externally, make an infusion or decoction from 1-2 g of raw materials in 250 ml of water. Gruel from leaves and fruits used to be used as an external remedy for burns.

Infusion nightshade is prepared from 3 g of grass (1 teaspoon) and 0.5 liters of boiling water, infused for 1 hour, filtered. Take 30 ml 3 times a day.

The classic anti-anesthetic agent is "Averin tea" - a collection consisting of 4 parts of tricolor violet herb, 4 parts of string herb and 1 part of nightshade herb. For its preparation 1 tbsp. a spoonful of the mixture is brewed in 1 glass of boiling water, insisted for 1-2 hours, filtered and taken in 1 tbsp. spoon 3-4 times a day.

Alcohol tincture of young shoots, prepared from 1 part of raw materials and 10 parts of vodka, insist for two weeks and take 10 drops 2-3 times a day.

Bittersweet nightshade is also included in the German Pharmacopoeia. It contains a corresponding article with the requirements for raw materials from it. The German Commission E, which develops the composition and recommendations for the use of medicinal plant materials, offers bittersweet nightshade as a remedy for eczema in the form of a ready-made pharmacy tincture, which is an alcoholic extract in a ratio of 1: 5. The dosage is 4-5 times a day, 30-40 drops for adults and half for children. In addition, nightshade is a part of a number of other preparations: Arthrosetten, Arthrisan.

Nightshade in homeopathy

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

The raw material for homeopathic remedies from nightshade is the shoots harvested during flowering. The essence is prepared from fresh raw materials.

Dulcamara's symptoms include pressing or boring pain in the head with a feeling of heaviness and deafness, pain in the frontal and temporal lobes, especially at noon and in the evening, dizziness, twitching of the lips, eyelids. Pain in the upper extremities, sweating palms, tearing pain in the joints of the lower extremities, feet, ameliorated by walking. Digestive disorders: heartburn, nausea, bloating, mucous diarrhea with colic in the abdomen. It is prescribed for shingles, impetigo, urticaria, myalgia, lumbodynia, neuralgia, bronchial asthma and a number of other diseases. Dulcamara D2-D3 is used for albuminuria.