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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Guilty Of Witchcraft

In the late 1600s, the Puritan settlement of Salem in Massachusetts toppled into chaos when accusations of witchcraft began to appear. Two young girls, aged nine and eleven, were said to have fallen victim to fits "beyond the power of Epileptic Fits or natural disease," including screams, strange contortions, and throwing objects. The village doctor, unable to explain the symptoms, suggested that witchcraft may be afoot in Salem. Others in the settlement began to exhibit similar inexplicable behavior, and shortly the accusations began to fly.
The infamous trials that followed left nineteen people hanged to death, and scores of others imprisoned under suspicion of supernatural wrongdoing. Today, few would suggest that those punished were actually guilty of witchcraft, but the true cause of the errant behavior in Salem's citizens is still a mystery. One theory– perhaps the most intriguing yet offered– suggests that the community's rye crop may have been partially to blame. Moreover, such maladjusted rye may have played a role in many of history's mysterious events.Salem, like many other communities in the past and present, harvested rye as part of their grain crops, and it was a staple in their diet. But it turns out that rye grass is susceptible to a particular fungus called Claviceps purpurea which infects the edible portions of the plant. During the ergot stage of this fungus' development, a cocktail of interesting alkaloids are present which will cause problems with circulation and neurotransmission when ingested by humans. A woman named Linnda Caporael was the first to suggest that Ergot of Rye may have contributed to the madness in the Salem trials.
Ergot poisoning, or ergotism, can cause a distressing array of side effects. The initial symptoms are usually gastrointestinal in nature, including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Shortly thereafter the sufferer may experience a gamut of symptoms caused by ergot's influence on the central nervous system. These usually start with relatively benign sensations such as headaches, "pins and needles," and burning/itching sensations on the skin; but the the experience can escalate into spasms, convulsions, unconsciousness, hallucinations, and psychosis. In severe cases, the body tissues experience physical side effects such as loss of peripheral sensation, swelling, blisters, dry gangrene, and sometimes death.More..

Posted by Ajay :: 10:05 AM :: 0 comments

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