Solanaceae

Solanaceae, or the nightshade family, includes the genera Athocercis, Atropa, Broallia,
Brugmansia, Brunfelsia, Capsicum, Cestrum, Cyphomandra, Datura, Fabiana, Hyoscyamus,
Iochroma, Lycium, Lycopersicon, Mandragora, Nicandra, Nicotiana, Nierembergia, Petunia,
Physalis, Salphichroa, Salpiglossis, Schizanthus, Solandra, Solanum, Streptosolen, and Vestia.
(7)
Many members of the night shade family find their way into food and medicine. On the
medicinal side, family members fall into one of two groups. The first group is agents active on
the nervous system. Well known neuro?active agents include Nicotiana tabacum, Brugmansia
species, Datura metal, Datura stromonium, Hyoscyamus niger, and Atropa belladona.
The second group is tonic drugs. Throughout the world, members of Solanaceae are used to
raise resistance to stressors by strengthening vitality. A sampling of such tonic drugs includes
Capsicum annum, Fabiana imbricata, Lycium chinense, Physalis alkekengi, Physalis minima,
Solanum americanum, Solanum caroliensis, Solanum dulcamara, Solanum mamosum, Solanum
nigra, Solanum torvum, Solanum tuberosum, and Withania somnifera. Research has revealed
that Solanum dulcamara and Withania somnifera display adaptogenic activity.


Discussion
Around the world, members of the nightshade family are revered and feared. Some of its
members can be used as poisons and hallucinogens. Others are used to fortify individuals
losing the battle with age or disease. There are enough family members with use as tonics to
warrant a comprehensive survey to look for other family members used for tonic purposes.
Once a comprehensive list is en massed, likely candidates for adaptogen research will become
apparent. Plants currently of interest include Lycium Chinense, Physalis alkekengi, Solanum
americanum, Solanum mamosum, Solanum nigrum, and Solanum torvum.


Lycium Chinense
Lycium chinense is a long used tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is used to treat wasting
diseases, diabetes, pulmonary tuberculosis, vertigo, seminal emission, weak kidneys, and sex
organs. (21)


Physalis alkekengi
In China, various parts of Physalis alkekengi are used for tonic purposes. The fruit is used to
treat gout, rheumatism, and jaundice. The plant is used to treat fever, cough, water retention,
congestion, abscesses, boils, bronchitis, diabetes, dysentery, jaundice, pemphigus, pertussis,
sore throat, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and tracheitis. (22)


Solanum americanum
Solanum americanum is used throughout Latin America as a tonic. Externally, it is applied to
wounds, ulcers, tumours, abscesses, welts, boils, sores in the mouth, eczema, shingles,
leucorrhea, neuralgia, tooth ache, and rheumatic joints. Internally, the drug is used to treat
fever, epidemic typhus, fatigue, urinary burning, scarlet fever, meningitis, vertigo, delirium,
and nervous upset. (24)


Solanum mamosum
In Latin America, the tonic drug is used internally to treat scrofula, syphilis, and elephantiasis,
conditions resulting in skin eruptions, colds, whooping cough, and inflamed painful body parts.
(25)


Solanum nigrum
The drug is used in China and India as a tonic medicine. In China the leaf is used to treat
cancerous sores, leucoderma, and wounds. The stem is used to increase virility in men, to
remedy dysmenorrhoea in women, and to treat dysentery, sore throat, and whitlows. The plant
is used to treat water retention, fever, leucorrhea, abscesses, open sores, cervical cancer,
inflammation, heavy menstruation, dermatitis, and diarrhoea. (23)


Solanum torvum
The leaf of Solanum torvum is used in Latin America as a tonic to remedy convulsion, cough,
asthma, catarrh, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, syphilis, skin disease, colds, stomach?ache, cystitis,
and urethritis. (26)