How to make a zombie
Make Your Own Zombie

So You Want to Make a Zombi...

Almost everyone has heard of zombies. Most people have even heard that zombies really do exist, even if they bear little resemblance to their shambling, brain-eating fictional portrayal in Night of the Living Dead. The creation of these real zombies is the result of administering a "zombi poison", carefully concocted by practitioners in Haiti. If you were hoping to grow all the ingredients for the zombi poison in your garden, you're out of luck. The best scientific guess is that the active ingredient in the Haitian zombi poison is the toxin of a puffer fish. But there are several plants which are constituents of the zombi poison which contribute to the "overall effect" of the poison. All of this information was taken from Passage of Darkness, by Wade Davis (he's the guy who wrote The Serpent and the Rainbow). He had access to several different versions of the poison, and determined these plants were the principal botanical ingredients:

This member of the legume family, Albizia lebbeck, has pharmacological activity due to a group of glycosides known as saponins. While most saponins cannot be absorbed by the intestine, they can be applied topically. The symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, excessive secretion in the respiratory passages, and pulmonary edema. If fatal, the victim "drowns" in his own fluids. This particular Albizia also contains a particular type of saponin known as sapotoxin, which interferes with cellular respiration in all parts of the body and causes death by weakening all vital functions.

The tree Trichilia hirta is used medicinally in Cuba, where infusions of the leaves are used to treat anemia, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It is also used in magic rituals by the Yoruba-Bakongo cults. Relatives of this tree are used by some African tribes to induce vomiting or as an enema; excessive dosages can be fatal.

pois gratter
This liana vine, Mucuna pruriens, does contain psychoactive substances, but that's not why it's used in the zombi poison. The fruit of the plant is covered in trichomes (surface hairs) which cause severe itching due to an enzyme known as mucunain. These trichomes also contain histamine-releasing substances, similar to those found in bee and snake venom. An infusion of this plant is sometimes used to get rid of internal parasites, since the redness, burning, itching, and blistering that the fruit can cause to a person's skin will also be noxious to any intestinal parasites. One hair underneath the skin is enough to produce a reaction.

maman guepes and mashasha
Both of these plants (Urera baccifera and Dalechampia scandens, respectively) are members of the stinging nettle family. When the plant is touched, the stinging hairs break, and fluid that is produced at the base of the hair is injected into the skin. This fluid contains acetylcholine, histamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine, and causes burning, itching, and swelling.

This is Jamaican dumbcane, Dieffenbachia sequine. Like other members of the Dieffenbachia, it contains calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves. These crystals irritate tissues causing swelling.

bwa pine
Supposedly this tree, Zanthoxylum martinicense, has a narcotic effect. An infusion of the bark is used in Jamaica to treat syphilis. Chewing on the bark relieves toothaches. The juice of young roots is used to treat intestinal problems. It is used in the zombi poison for its irritating spines.

pomme cajou
This is the cashew plant, Anacardium occidentale, which is a member of the poison ivy family. Raw cashews are known to be poisonous. Like any other member of the poison ivy family, exposure to any part of the cashew plant can cause inflammation of the skin, due to substances which include cardol, anacardic acid, anacardol, and cardanol.

The Comocladia glabra tree is detested by the Haitians, but eradication of the tree is difficult since the smoke from burning them is dangerous. The toxic resins given off by the plant cause severe inflammation and dermatitis. The itching caused by the plant is so extreme that most of the damage done to the skin is self-inflicted. A related species in Cuba is considered an evil, diabolical plant: 'Evil comes naturally to it and no one dares touch it.'
Since the zombi poison is normally applied topically, the plants which irritate the skin are important. The itching they cause can make the victim inflict wounds, allowing the poison to enter the bloodstream. Sometimes there are repeated applications of the zombi poison, and wounds inflicted earlier will allow for quicker absorption of these later doses. Once in the bloodstream, the pharmacological ingredients of the poison can do their work.

Pistachios are given to zombies to give them the rest of death.

Thanks to Gothic Gardening

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