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Definition of «Scopolamine»

Scopolamine: A venerable drug that is a naturally occurring member of a large chemical class of compounds called alkaloids. Scopolamine was first introduced into medical usage in 1902. The name comes from that of the 18th-century Italian naturalist Giovanni Scopoli.

Scopolamine is, together with atropine, a component of belladonna which comes from a plant called "deadly nightshade," once used as a means of poisoning. When scopolamine is given in lower (non-poisonous) doses, it causes drowsiness and amnesia and sometimes a sense of euphoria (a "high").

Scopolamine together with morphine provided childbirth without pain (or without the memory of pain), once a much sought-after objective. Known as twilight sleep, this combination of drugs could cause serious problems. It completely removed the mother from the birth experience and it gravely depressed the baby's central nervous system. This sometimes made for a drowsy depressed baby with depressed breathing capacity. Twilight sleep therefore has fallen entirely out of favor and is now a chapter in the history of obstetrics.

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