Maybe some of you are already awhere of this, but I thought this was very fascinating. PBS aired a program two weeks ago, titled "Secrets of the Dead" in which some scholars researched the possibility of a "sickness" during the medieval times that caused people to hallucinate, go into convulsions, and feel a terrible stinging and burning sensation throughout their bodies and led to an eventual death. No one knew what caused these these things, so physicians attributed these odd occurrances to witchcraft, which resulted in the execution of hundreds of innocent women, men, and children.
Studies now show that a fungus which grows on rye crops during very wet and humid summers is the cause of these strange outbreaks. Of particular interest was what occured during the Salem Witch Trials. Another instance occurred in France during the 1950s in which a whole town went mad. The cause? Contaminated rye bread. It was found that during the time of the Salem Witch Trials, rye bread was an important staple of the Puritan diet, AND, also during that time, there were 3 years of wet and humid summers in which farmers grew rye crops in very wet, sometimes marshy soil.
On closer examination of the fungus (Ergot) it was found that the chemical substance that makes up Ergot is the base chemical in the drug LSD, Ergotomine, which as most of know causes hallucinations, and under severe cases, causes convulsions and a stinging and burning sensation which can lead to death.
So now we be rest assured that witchcraft played no part at all during the witch trials, but an outbreak of food poisoning from eating contaminated rye. If only they had known, hundreds of innocent people wouldn't have died.
What are your thoughts?
kind regards, Kim