Atropine is a tropane alkaloid, that can be extracted from the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) and certain other plants. It is mainly used as a drug. Atropine can be deadly. The substance derives its name from Atropos, one of the three Fates. In Greek mythology, the Fates chose how a person was to die. Atropine is a core medicine in the World Health Organization's "Essential Drugs List", which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic health care system.
The second part of the Latin name (belladonna, pretty woman) comes from the fact that it can be used to temporarily disable the eye's adaptation to light. This will lead to "big" pupils, which were considered pretty in a woman of the Renaissance. Atropine can also be used to resuscitate patients that have gone into cardiac arrest. It can also be used as an antidote to certain poison gases and insecticides.
- "WHO Model List of Essential Medicines" (PDF). World Health Organization. March 2005. Retrieved 2006-03-12.