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The medicinal uses of Henbane date from remote ages; it was well known to the Ancients, been partcularly commended by Dioscorides (ist. Century A:D:) who used it to procure sleep and allay pains, and Celsus (same period) and others made use of it for the same purpose, internally and externally, though Pliny declared it to be "of the nature of wine and therfore offensive to the understanding." There is mention of it in a work by Benedictus Crispus (A.D.681) under the name of Hyoscyamus and Symphonica.
It is supposed that this is the noxious herb referrred to by Shakespear in Hamlet:
" Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed "hebenon" in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ear did pour
The leprous distillment"
In the Middle Ages, the seeds were smoked in the Public Baths, for erotic moods.
The herb was used in magic and diabolism, for its power of throwing its victim into convulsions. it was employed by witches in their midnight brews, and from the leaves was prepared a famous sorcaerer's ointment.
Anodyn necklaces were made from the roots and were hung about the necks of children as charms to prevent fits and to cause easy teething.
In mythology we read that the dead in Hades were crowned with it as they wandered hopelessly beside the Styx.