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Glass bottle used for tincture of belladonna, England, 1880-1900

Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade is a plant whose name suggests it is poisonous. However, the roots and leaves have medicinal qualities – the leaves are a narcotic to induce sleep, and can be used as a diuretic and as a muscle relaxant. The roots and leaves were also used for plasters to relieve aches and pains. The cobalt blue coloured glass was blown with a ridged design. It is thought that poison bottles had distinctive textures and colours so they could easily be identified by touch and by sight. A tincture is an alcoholic solution of a medicine.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: bottle

Vessels having a neck and mouth considerably narrower than the body, used for packaging and containing liquid and dry preparations

Glossary: narcotic

A term used to describe any drug that can dull the senses or cause numbness. In the USA the term is applied to all drugs that are classified as illegal.

Glossary: diuretic

An agent that increases the excretion of urine.

Glossary: belladonna

Atropa Belladonna is a plant with bell-shaped flowers and black berries. The plant and flowers are poisonous. However, the roots and leaves are used in medical treatments and remedies.