Atropine  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Atropine is a tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects. It is a competitive antagonist for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. It is classified as an anticholinergic drug. Being potentially deadly, it derives its name from Atropos, one of the three Fates who, according to Greek mythology, chose how a person was to die. Atropine is a core medicine in the World Health Organization's "Essential Drugs List", which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic health care system.

History

Mandragora (mandrake) was described by Theophrastus in the fourth century B.C. for treatment of wounds, gout, and sleeplessness, and as a love potion. By the first century A.D. Dioscorides recognized wine of mandrake as an anaesthetic for treatment of pain or sleeplessness, to be given prior to surgery or cautery. The use of Solanaceae containing tropane alkaloids for anesthesia, often in combination with opium, persisted throughout the Roman and Islamic Empires and continued in Europe until superseded by the use of ether, chloroform, and other modern anesthetics.

Atropine extracts from the Egyptian henbane were used by Cleopatra in the last century B.C. to dilate her pupils, in the hope that she would appear more alluring. In the Renaissance, women used the juice of the berries of Atropa belladonna to enlarge the pupils of their eyes, for cosmetic reasons. This practice resumed briefly in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century in Paris.

The mydriatic effects of atropine were studied among others by the German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge (1795–1867). In 1831, the German pharmacist Heinrich F. G. Mein (1799-1864) succeeded in preparing atropine in pure crystalline form.

The substance was first synthesized by German chemist Richard Willstätter in 1901.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Atropine" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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