Ch.12: Molecules of Witchcraft

Witchcraft in the 13th century CE (right) (

During the Iron Age, millions of women and children were burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured because they were accused of being witches. Many of the accused confessed to flying during the night to have meetings with the Devil and to cast hexes on their enemies. While many confessed after severe torture, other accused "witches" sincerely believed that they had been on a magical adventure. It is now believed by historians that one of the widely used "potions" of the witches was an alkaloid, a compound with hallucinogenic properties. (Le Couteur & Burreson 223-245)
Alkaloids are extremely toxic and affect the central nervous system. Alkaloids were used by witches in their flying salves, which often included extracts from mandrake, belladonna, and henbane. Mandrake, Belladonna, and henbane all contain the alkaloids, atropine and hyoscine. Large concentrations of these akaliods produce bluried vision, agitation, delirium, and euphoria. As one can see, the symptoms of alkaloid ingestion are very similar to a substance induced high and is the probabal cause of the accussed witch's believe that she actually was a witch. (Le Couteur & Burreson 223-245)