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The dark side of 'belladonna'

Poster Details

First Author: S.Scholtz GERMANY

Co Author(s):    G. Auffarth              

Abstract Details


Atropine is an extremely potent poison and still an essential drug in today's medicine. The name has its source in the legends of Greek mythology. This poster will show major historical facts about the drug and the origin of its name.


: International Vision Correction Research Centre (IVCRC), Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Heidelberg, Germany


Selective literature research of books and articles in journals via PubMed, Google Scholar and Google.


The name “atropine” derives from the Greek goddess Atropos. She was responsible for the particular time of the death of humans. In ancient times atropine was widely used in medicine, e.g. as analgesic, for hepatitis, edema, scarlet fever and mental diseases as well as an effective poison. Atropine is part of the “belladonna” extract that young women in ancient Venice applied to their eyes in order to have “beautiful” dilated pupils. Today's use of atropine is small but important, e.g. in emergency medicine and as mydriatic agent in ophthalmology.


The name “atropine” has a long mythological history. Apart from its immense importance as a poison and a drug, even a kingdom was named after Atropos: Atropatene, which has been located in the region of today's Azerbaijan.

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