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Tuesday, 21 March 2017



Poison was discovered in ancient times, and used by ancient tribes and civilizations as a hunting tool to quicken and ensure the death of their enemies or prey.

Grooves for storing or holding poisons have been plainly found in the hunting weapons and tools of early humans, showing that ancient peoples had already discovered poisons of varying potency and applied them to their weapons.

Gu was a poison created in Ancient China by placing scorpions, centipedes and snakes in a jar and having them fight. The poison would be drawn from the survivor and then used to incapacitate enemies.

Classical Greek philosopher Socrates committed suicide by drinking a hemlock potion after he was sentenced to death for the crime of corrupting youth and flouting the state.

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (1787)

At the time of the Roman Empire, one of the more prevalent uses was assassination. The first known instance of the crime of poisoning at Rome was in 331 B.C., when a high mortality was said to be caused by some poisons prepared and administered by 20 Roman matrons. On being forced to drink their own concoctions to prove the charges false, they perished by their own wickedness.

Later, Nero used cyanide to dispose of unwanted family members.

Mithridates VI King of Pontus who reigned around 114–63 BC, lived in constant fear of being assassinated through poison. He was paranoid to the point that he administered daily amounts of poisons in an attempt to make himself immune to as many toxins and venoms as he could. Later in his life, Mithridates tried to kill himself via poisoning but failed because he had developed resistance over the course of his reign.

Arsenic became a popular method for murder during the Middle Ages because the symptoms it produced, such as stomach pain, were similar to cholera which was rife at the time.

When the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe, most Europeans were originally suspicious of them. This was in part because people realized that the potato is a member of the nightshade family, all of which are very poisonous.

In 2010, there were approximately 727,500 emergency department visits in the United States involving poisonings—3.3% of all injury-related encounters.

In 2013, poisoning resulted in about 180,000 deaths worldwide, down from 200,000 in 1990.


The skull and crossbones has long been a standard symbol for poison.

Toxic house plants poison more children than household chemicals.

Broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts all contain a little bit of cyanide—eating them primes your liver to deal better with other poisons.

A quarter of the residents in a small Argentinian village have a genetic immunity to arsenic after centuries of drinking poison-laced water.

The Poison Garden at Alnwick, Northumberland in North East England, features some of the world’s most deadly plants. A sign on the gate warns: “These plants can kill”.

Poison ivy is not a true ivy. It belongs to a different plant family.

Poison Ivy foliage during autumn leaf coloration in Ewing, New Jersey. By Famartin  Wikipedia

If poison ivy is smoked, it can cause a rash on the inside of the lungs and even respiratory failure.

Mangoes and pistachios are in the same family as poison ivy.

The poisonous liquid that the Apheloria Virginiensis giant millipede secretes—which includes cyanide—smells like cherry cola.

Victims who ingest puffer fish poison from wrongly-prepared sushi experience symptoms that are similar to nerve gas and die of asphyxiation.

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