Datura and Chumash Healing

Datura wrightiiToday, on the Herb Walk ‘n’ Roll on the OVLC’s Old Baldwin Trail, we saw several Datura plants (Datura wrightii), well known as highly poisonous members of the Nightshade family and related to Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladona), one of the most toxic plants in the Eastern hemisphere. Datura is sometimes called Jimson Weed and the Chumash know it as Momoy. The ancestral Chumash knew how to harness Momoy’s healing powers for visionary experiences as well as for pain relief. We can still use it today externally as they did for pain but internal use is strongly discouraged. Some Chumash youth reportedly did not survive the puberty initiation ordeal. So please don’t even think about it!

In this article, “Palliative Care Among the Chumash People,” found on my page of Links to Resources, Dr. Jim Adams of the USC School of Pharmacology and Cecilia Garcia, his mentor in Chumash healing, describe how to make Datura extract for pain treatment. I’ve also made a poultice of the fresh leaves for swollen glands and sore muscles.

Dr. Adams will be joining us again as a special guest teacher on Sunday, June 16, for a Medicinal Plant Walk and Acorn Preparation Workshop. Check our Calendar for more information.IMG_2708

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