Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Beauty is Agony - Belladona

Deadly Nightshade

The year is 2012 AD, women will do all sorts of dangerous things in the pursuit of beauty, we nip, we tuck, we hide all for vanity.
People have been paralysed (or worse) by unnecessary surgeries, blinded by improperly made contact lenses and recently a big news story has been about rupturing breast implants.
This is nothing new, vanity has been one of our greatest downfalls for a long time, perhaps for most of time and so I decided to do this series of blog posts on some of the dangerous beauty essentials of the past.

Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade, The Beautiful Woman, The Death Cherry...The plant once used as a poison by the ancient Romans (reputedly used to poison the Emperor Augustus) became a popular eye drop solution to widen ladies pupils in the Renaissance, who believed that the doe eyed look was their ideal (perhaps this was a forerunner to the circle lensed look that Sweet Lolita sometimes aspire to?).

Belladonna is a powerful and dangerous drug, just two berries from the plant itself can potentially kill a small child, even in smaller doses it can produce horrendous hallucinations (Belladonna has been found mentioned alongside Opium in Witches "Flying potions" from the Middle Ages, presumably flying is a common hallucination related to Belladonna), in the eye drops themselves? Well after prolonged use the use could find their sight degrading or even loose it completely.

So when was this product discontinued? Shockingly we still use it (although not as a beauty product), eye drops containing trace amounts of Belladonna are used by opticians, remember the last time you had an eye test and they dropped something in your eyes to dilate your pupils? Chances are it was an eye drop containing Deadly Nightshade!
It's also used commonly in sleep medication (which is one of the reasons why overdosing on sleeping pills can be deadly) and in asthma medication!

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