|THE METROPOLITAN NATURALIST
|Bittersweet or Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
|Bittersweet (Solamum dulcamara) is a small climbing vine of hedges and fences. The flowers have 5 swept back
purple petals surrounding a bright yellow "beak". In the summer there are clusters of green berries that turn bright
red in the fall and winter. The leaves usually have two lobes at the base. The name bittersweet comes from the
taste which is said to be sweet with a bitter aftertaste.
|Bittersweet is classified in the same genus as the potato. It is native to Europe, but has been established in the
North America. The entire plant is poisonous, the berries, leaves, and roots should not be eaten (except maybe
under the guidance of a competent herbalist). This plant is very interesting biochemically and has been used
medicinally for centuries. It is also popular in modern witchcraft, possibly for it's narcotic effect.
|Beta-Solamarine has been isolated from Bittersweet and has been shown to have anti-tumor and anti-sarcoma
activity. (S. Morris Kupchan, Stanley J. Barboutis, John R. Knox, and Cesar A. Lau Cam (31 December 1965)
Science 150 (3705), 1827)
Cycloartenol and Citrostadienol and other compounds isolated from Bittersweet have been reported by Jim
Duke to be antirheumatic. (http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/)
Solamargine, Solasodine and other compounds isolated from Bittersweet have been reported by Jim Duke to
have anti-cancer properties. (http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/)
|The bark, root, root bark, or tips of stems are traditionally used medicinally as a tea, powder or dilute alcohol extract.
Uses include treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and gout, skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis, and for
tumors of the breast, lungs, or skin. The plant is narcotic, sedative, and quite toxic, potentially fatal, so dosages
need to be carefully controlled.