Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), Jimson weed (Datura stramonium), mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) and other plants of the familySolanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects.
In general, atropine counters the “rest and digest” activity of glands regulated by the parasympathetic nervous system. This occurs because atropine is a competitive antagonist of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (acetylcholine being the main neurotransmitter used by the parasympathetic nervous system). Atropine dilates the pupils, increases heart rate, and reduces salivation and other secretions.
It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.