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What is Scopolamine?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Scopolamine is a medication that is classified as a tropane alkaloid drug. Popularly known as Devils Breath, the medication is created using plants that are part of the nightshade family, such as henbane and corkwood. Scopolamine is a highly toxic drug and is usually prescribed in very small dosages.

In addition to Devil’s Breath, scopolamine is also known as hyoscine. This particular identification is derived from hycocyamus niger, which is the scientific name for henbane. When administered with care, scopolamine can provide significant relief from several common health issues.

One of the main uses for scopolamine is for motion sickness. Administered via the use of a transdermal patch, the drug is absorbed through the skin in minute amounts throughout the day. The controlled release of scopolamine helps to ensure that an overdose does not take place.

Nausea can also be alleviated with the use of scopolamine. As with the treatment of motion sickness, it is possible to make use of a patch that incrementally allows the drug to enter the body through the skin over several hours. The same approach can be employed when dealing with intense cramping in the intestines. Ophthalmologists occasionally make use of scopolamine to alleviate various other health issues.

When administered properly, scopolamine is capable of providing a great deal of relief. However, an overdose of the drug can lead to serious complications. The mental capabilities of the individual may be affected to the point that an extreme lethargy that is more or less a stupor takes place. Depending on the amount of the overdose, it is not uncommon to begin experiencing delusions that are extremely distressing in nature. The individual may also fall into a state of delirium. In extreme cases, an overdose of scopolamine can lead to paralysis, or even death.

There are several other less common uses for scopolamine. The drug does function well as a depressant. In some cases, people with Parkinson’s Disease may be treated with the use of a small amount of scopolamine. Prescription sleep medications sometimes make use of small amounts of scopolamine to help with insomnia.

While scopolamine was once available in several over the counter medications, restrictions on its use has led to the drug only being available through a prescription. This is true in the United States as well as in a number of countries around the world. In the US, it was possible to purchase non-prescription sleep aids and other simple medications until 1990. Because of the hallucinogenic properties of scopolamine, there was some concern that medications containing the drug might be used for recreation by taking more than the recommended dosage.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By minombre — On Sep 27, 2008

The medication used for dilation of pupils is made out of henbane.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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