Mandrake

AKA: Apples of the fool, apples of the genie, devil's testicle, European mandrake, love apple, mandragon, mandragora, Mandragora officinarum, may apple, Satan's apple, Satan's testicles.

"Of all the sedating-tranquilizing-psychotropic plants known," writes William Emboden, "the mandrake ... has the most extensive and bizarre history. ... This member of the nightshade family has been used as a painkiller, sedative, aphrodisiac, trance mediator, and poison." According to the ancient "doctrine of signatures," medicinal plants resembled that part of the human body for which it could affect a cure and, since mandrake resembled the human form, its powers were seen as all-encompassing.

Effects: Hallucinations.

Precautions: The dosage needed to produce hallucinations is also close to the toxic dose, which are caused by the potent compound scopolamine. Side effects include a burning thirst, dizziness, fever, dilated eyes, rapid heart rate, severe headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, difficult urination, problems with ejaculation, cramps, restlessness, disorientation, confusion, delirium, coma, amnesia, heart damage, insanity, and death.

Mandragora officinarum (European mandrake) is a very different plant from Podophyllum peltatum, or American mandrake. Both, however, are very poisonous.

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