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Atropin, atropina, atropinum, atropium, DL-hyoscyamine,
(±)-hyoscyamine, 3u( luH,5uH)-tropanyl-(RS)tropate,
Substance type: tropane alkaloid
Atropine was first isolated from the deadly nightshade
(Atropa belladonna) in 1820 by Rudolph
Brandes, who named the compound after the
genus. Atropine is found in many plants of the
Nightshade Family (including the genera Atropa,
Brugmansia, Datura, Hyoscyamus, Latua, Mandragora).
Atropine is chemically related to cocaine
(Willstaedter 1889). It also is closely related to
scopolamine and hyoscyamine. Hyoscyamine,
which is present in many living plants, quickly
racemizes into atropine when the raw drugs are
dried or stored.
A therapeutic dosage is usually considered to
be 1 mg. It is possible that 10 fig is lethal for
children and babies, but not for adults:
Relatively high doses (10 mg atropine sulfate
and above) have a stimulating effect on the
central nervous system, affecting especially
the cerebrum, diencephalon, and medulla
oblongata. The arousal is followed by an
anesthesia-like paralysis that can lead to coma
and a fatal respiratory paralysis. (Roth et al.
The lethal oral dosage for an adult is approximately
100 mg (Roth et al. 1994, 765*).
The range of atropine's effects includes
psychomotor agitation, excitation, constant repetition
of a particular activity pattern, a need to
talk, euphoria, crying spells, confused speech,
hallucinations, spasms, delirium, flushing of the
skin, drying of the mucous membranes, coma,
unconsciousness, and heart arrhythmia (Roth et
al. 1994, 945*). One particularly characteristic
effect is a long-lasting dilation of the pupils (mydriasis).
It is because of this effect that atropine has
long been used in ophthalmology (Jurgens 1930).
Atropine is also utilized as a component in certain
anesthetics (in combination with morphine).
Injections of atropine are often administered prior
to surgery so that the mucous membranes will
remain dry during the procedure and the patient
will not choke on his or her own saliva. Atropine
has also been used to treat asthma (Terray 1909).
When it is given orallyRoute of administration in which the subject swallows a substance., the typical effects of atropine (dry mouth, pupillary dilation, increased
pulse rate) manifest about twice as strong as compared
to intramuscular injection (Mirakhur 1978).
Some of the atropine is excreted in the urine
unchanged (Roth et al. 1994,945*).
Atropine is an important antidote in cases of
poisoning (overdoses) caused by the fungal toxin
muscarine (cf. Inocybe spp.), Digitalis purpurea,
hydrogen cyanide, opium (cf. Papaver somniferum),
and morphine (Rompp 1995, 298*). Overdoses of
atropine can be successfully treated with morphine.
Because of its unpleasant side effects (dryness
of the mouth, difficulties in swallowing, disturbances
in vision, confusion), atropine as a pure
alkaloid has never acquired any cultural significance
as a psychoactive substance. However, the
medical literature does contain a few reports of"atropine addiction" (Flincker 1932).
|Commercial Forms and Regulations
Atropine is available both as a pure substance and
as atropine sulfate. Although regulated as a
dangerous substance, it can be obtained with a
prescription and is not included on any list of
"narcotic drugs" (Koerner 1994, 1573*).
See also the entries for Atropa belladonna, Latua
pubiflora, cocaine, and tropane alkaloids.
Brandes, Rudolph. 1920. -aber das Atropium, ein
neues Alkaloid in den BHittern der Belladonna
(Atropa belladonna 1.). Journal fur Chemie und
Flincker, R. 1932. -aber Abstinenz-Erscheinungen bei
Atropin. Munchner Medizinische Wochenschrift
Jurgensen, E. 1930. Atropin im Wandel der Zeiten.
Artztliche Rundschau (Munich; 1930): 5-8.
Ketchum, J. S., F. R. Sidell, E. B. Crowell, G. K.
Aghajanian, andA. H. Hayes. 1973. Atropine,
scopolamine and ditran: Comparative
pharmacology and antagonists in man.
Mirakhur, R. K. 1978. Comparative study of the
effects of oral and i.m. atropine and hyoscine in
volunteers. British Journal ofAnaesthesia 50 (6):
Terray, Paul von. 1909. -aber Asthma Bronchiale und
dessen Behandlung mit Atropin. Medizinische
Klinik 1 (5): 79-83.
Willstatter, R. 1898. Uber die Constitution der
Spaltungsprodukte von Atropin und Cocain.
Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft31:1534-53.