Known as “deadly nightshade” atropa belladonna is a popular homeopathic remedy living up to its fatal name. The herb is garnering public attention following reports that hundreds of babies are getting sick from using teething products containing the ingredient, reports Scientific American.

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So what is this controversial herb? According to WebMD, belladonna is a plant whose leaf and root is used in medicine. It works by blocking functions of the nervous system, which is in charge of things like sweating, digestion and urination, writes the website. Before you consider trying out this alternative treatment, here a few myths and facts you should know:

BellaDonna Is Harmless

False. Deemed unsafe, it remains a popular choice for a variety of uses. WebMD reports that people choose it as a sedation to stop bronchial spasms in asthma and whooping cough patients and to treat hay fever, motion sickness, colic and joint pain. According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine, the herb contains chemicals that can be very toxic and should not be taken by mouth.

BellaDonna Is Effective

False. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says there is no evidence to support that Belladonna can improve medical conditions.

BellaDonna Can Be Used As Poison

True. Slate reports that this plant was used in assassinations throughout history.

BellaDonna Can Cause Suffocation

True. According to, the herb comes with a plethora of side effects, some of which can be deadly. Aside from dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and burning throat, overdosing on the plant can result in difficulty breathing. Without treatment, suffocation is possible.

BellaDonna Is Only Taken Orally

False. The ingredient can be found in ointments and plasters, in addition to the teething tablets and ear relief reportedly making children sick.

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