What is atropine used for?

Baroque ladies used atropine to become more attractive to men. They put it in their eyes, causing the pupils to dilate. Dark eyes were considered desirable at the time. The Latin name of the plant from which atropine is extracted can be derived from this: Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade. Atropa derives from the Greek goddess Atropos, who cuts the thread of life. Belladonna means “beautiful woman”. The name deadly nightshade may come from the fact that people who eat the shiny black  berries  act like “mad” (crazy).

Effect of Atropine

Today, the exact mechanism of action of atropine is known and it is used in various areas of medicine. Atropine acts in the parasympathetic system. There it inhibits the effect of acetylcholine, a transmitter substance of nerve excitation.

It is still used in ophthalmology to dilate the pupils, although not for cosmetic reasons. This allows ophthalmologists to examine the back of the eye. Furthermore, atropine is used for spasms of the smooth muscles in the  gastrointestinal tract  and for the treatment of  incontinence  .

Since deadly nightshade is extremely poisonous, atropine requires a prescription and pharmacy.


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