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---Medicinal Action and Uses---
This species has the reputation of being very poisonous, a fact, however, disputed by recent inquiries. In experimenting on dogs, very varying results have been obtained, which may be explained by the fact that the active principle, Solanine, on which the poisonous properties of this and the preceding species depend, and which exists in considerable quantity in the fresh herb, varies very much at different seasons.
The berries are injurious to children, but are often eaten by adults with impunity, especially when quite ripe, as the poisonous principle is chiefly associated with all green parts. Cattle will not eat the plant and sheep rarely touch it.
It is applied in medicine similarly to Bittersweet, but is more powerful and possesses greater narcotic properties.
According to Withering and other authorities, 1 or 2 grains of the dried leaves, infused in boiling water, act as a strong sudorific.
In Bohemia the leaves are placed in the cradles of infants to promote sleep. In the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius, the leaves are eaten in place of spinach: and the fruit is said to be eaten without inconvenience by soldiers stationed in British Kaffraria. (Lindley's Treasury of Botany.)
It has been found useful in cutaneous disorders, but its action is variable, and it is considered a somewhat dangerous remedy except in very small doses.
The bruised fresh leaves, used externally, are said to ease pain and abate inflammation, and the Arabs apply them to burns and ulcers. Their juice has been used for ringworm, gout and earache, and mixed with vinegar, is said to be good as a gargle and mouthwash.
Besides the above-mentioned species, others are used for medicinal, alimentary, and other purposes. Some are employed almost universally as narcotics to allay pain, etc.; others are sudorific and purgative. Solanum toxicarium is used as a poison by the natives of Cayenne. S. pseudo-quina is esteemed as a valuable febrifuge in Brazil. Among those used for food, are S. Album and S. Æthiopicum, the fruits of which are used in China and Japan. Those of S. Anguivi are eaten in Madagascar. S. esculentum and its varieties furnish the fruits known as Aubergines or Brinjals, which are highly esteemed in France, and may sometimes be met with in English markets; they are of the size and form of a goose's egg and usually of a rich purple colour. The Egg-plant, which has white berries, is only a variety of this. The Peruvians eat the fruits of S. muricatum and S. quitoense; those of S. ramosum are eaten as a vegetable in the West Indies. The Tasmanian Kangaroo Apple is the fruit of S. laciniatum; unless fully ripe this is said to be acrid. In Gippsland, Australia, the natives eat the fruits of S. vescum, which, like the preceding, is not agreeable till fully ripe, when it is said to resemble in form and flavour the fruits of Physalis peruviana. Of other species the leaves are eaten; as those of S. oleraceum in the West Indies and Fiji Islands, of S. sessiflorum in Brazil, etc.
Liver Disorders; Solanum nigrum is most effective for liver disorders such as chronic enlargement of the liver and associated symptons, eg. haemoptesis (blood from the mouth, mucoid stools, and other skin manifestations). The juice of the plant can be taken for this.
Chronic Skin Ailments; For example Psoriasis and Ringworm, the tender plant is used as a vegetable and a paste (as a poultice) of the plant is applied locally.
Inflammatory Conditions; The plant is taken internally as a vegetable and applied externally as a paste. Alternatively the hot leaves can be applied to the swellings.
Painful periods: the leaves are used. Crush a handful of (about 20) leaves and boil the paste with ﬂ cup of water and pinch of salt, to extract the juice. Dosage; take ﬂ cup of boiled leaf juice, along with meals thrice a day for 5 days during menstruation. Repeat for three cycles.
For fevers, diarrhoea, eye diseases, hydrophobia; the berries are used.
Decoction of leaves; diuretic, laxative. Decoction of berries and flowers; prescribed in cough and cold.
(Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology)