Witchcraft or Mycotoxin? The Salem Witch Trials

  title={Witchcraft or Mycotoxin? The Salem Witch Trials},
  author={Alan David Woolf},
  journal={Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology},
  pages={457 - 460}
  • A. Woolf
  • Published 2000
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology
Background: The Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 have been studied by many historians looking for the complex social, political, and psychological determinants behind the community-wide hysteria that led to a travesty of justice and the deaths of 20 innocent Puritans. Recently, ergot poisoning has been put forth by some as a previously unsuspected cause of the bizarre behaviors of the young adolescent girls who accused the townsfolk of witchcraft. In this essay the circumstances behind the ergot… Expand
Salem witchcraft and lessons for contemporary forensic psychiatry.
  • S. Friedman, A. Howie
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
  • 2013
In 1692 and 1693, in Salem, Massachusetts, more than 150 colonists were accused of witchcraft, resulting in 19 being hanged and one man being crushed to death. Contributions to these events included:Expand
Witchcraft or Mental Illness
I don’t believe in witches or ghosts or things that go bump in the night. I’ve always thought that the Salem witch trials were a result of mass hysteria (on the part of the persecutors) rather than aExpand
“The Salem Witch Mania”: Recent Scholarship and American History Textbooks
A critical presentation of recent research on the Salem witch trials, this essay contrasts new scholarly findings with outdated accounts in current American history textbooks. The article drawsExpand
Ergotism in Norway. Part 1: The symptoms and their interpretation from the late Iron Age to the seventeenth century
Ergotism is a horrendous disease with grotesque symptoms caused by ingesting specific ergot alkaloids. Mass poisoning episodes are attributable to consumption of grain – usually rye – infected withExpand
The witch trials of finnmark, Northern Norway, during the 17th century: Evidence for ergotism as a contributing factor
  • T. Alm
  • Biology
  • Economic Botany
  • 2008
Medical symptoms compatible with ergotism were recorded in numerous trials, including gangrene, convulsions, and hallucinations; the latter often explicitly stated to occur after consumption of foodstuffs or drink. Expand
Parasites or Cohabitants: Cruel Omnipresent Usurpers or Creative “Éminences Grises”?
This paper presents many types of interplays between parasites and the host, showing the history of parasites, the effects of parasites on the outcome of wars, invasions, migrations, and on theExpand
Why the Quakers Quaked: The Influence of Climatic Change on Quaker Health, 1647-1659
Religious enthusiasm rose to a peak in England in the middle of the seventeenth century, and among the religious enthusiasts of the 1650s were the Quakers, so-called by outsiders because of their tendency to tremble when "the power" moved them. Expand
The entheogenic origins of Mormonism: A working hypothesis
Historical documents relating to early Mormonism suggest that Joseph Smith (1805–1844) employed entheogen-infused sacraments to fulfill his promise that every Mormon convert would experience visionsExpand
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Stigma
When I was asked to write a commentary chapter for the work by Stewart Schwab and Garth Glissman (Chapter 8 on Disability) and John Dovidio, Lisa Pagotto, and Michelle R. Hebl (Chapter 9, on Race), IExpand
The prehistory of mycotoxins: related cases from ancient times to the discovery of aflatoxins
This paper presents a journey through the known and the presumed history of two important mycotoxicoses which played an important role in the history of mankind before aflatoxins were discovered: (1)Expand


Ergotism and the Salem witch panic: a critical analysis and an alternative conceptualization.
  • N. Spanos
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences
  • 1983
This perspective views the Salem crisis as a sociopolitical drama played out in terms of the worldview shared by seventeenth-century Puritans, and the events purportedly explained by the ergot hypothesis are accounted for within a social psychological framework. Expand
Ergotism: the satan loosed in Salem?
The evidence suggests that convulsive ergotism, a disorder resulting from the ingestion of grain contaminated with ergot, may have initiated the witchcraft delusion in Salem. Expand
Report on an Outbreak of Alleged Ergot Poisoning by Rye Bread in Manchester.
The Ministry of Health was instructed to visit Manchester and investigate the outbreak of illness with the object of bringing to light further facts with regard to the nature of the illness and its causation, the likelihood of recurrence of similar outbreaks and the measures which should be taken to prevent such recurrences. Expand
Occurrence of peptide and clavine ergot alkaloids in tall fescue grass.
The results indicate that ergot alkaloids are probably responsible for the toxicity to cattle of this common pasture and lawn grass and that Ergotism-like toxicoses may be caused by clavicipitaceous fungi other than Claviceps. Expand
Mycotoxins: toxicity, carcinogenicity, and the influence of various nutritional conditions*
  • P. Newberne
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Environmental health perspectives
  • 1974
Alimentary toxic aleukia, which has caused enormous suffering in Russian human and animal populations, is better understood as a result of relatively recent experimental investigations, and Japanese studies have clearly revealed the hepatotoxicity of certain metabolites of Penicillium molds. Expand
Ergotamine absorption and toxicity.
Plasma and urinary ergotamine was measured by radio-immunoassay and pharmacokinetic data derived from the study are presented and their relevance to the therapeutic use of ergotamines are discussed. Expand
Acute Myocardial Infarction Secondary to Ergot Therapy
The patient described below had received ergotamine tartrate for many years, had no known contraindications to its continued use and had received what is considered to be an obvious overdosage. Expand
Ergot. In: To.xicology
  • 1997
Ergot. In: Toxicology
  • 1997
Ergot induced myocardial ischaemia in a patient without vasospastic disorder.