Currently viewing the tag: "poison"

Amanita phalloides /æməˈnaɪtə fəˈlɔɪdiːz/, commonly known as the death cap, is a deadly poisonous basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Widely distributed across Europe, A. phalloides forms ectomycorrhizas with various broad leaved trees. In some cases, the death cap has been introduced to new regions with the cultivation of non-native species of oak, chestnut, and pine. The large fruiting bodies (mushrooms) appear in summer and autumn; the caps are generally greenish in colour with a white stipe and gills. Cap colour is variable, including white forms (see Taxonomy below) and thus not a reliable identifier.

These toxic mushrooms resemble several edible species (most notably caesar’s mushroom and the straw mushroom) commonly consumed by humans, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning. Amatoxins, the class of toxins found in these mushrooms, are thermostable: they resist changes due to heat, so their toxic effects are not reduced by cooking.
A. phalloides is one of the most poisonous of all known toadstools. It is estimated that as little as half a mushroom contains enough toxin to kill an adult human. It has been involved in the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisoning, possibly including the deaths of Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 54 and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740. It has been the subject of much research, and many of its biologically active agents have been isolated. The principal toxic constituent is a-amanitin, which damages the liver and kidneys, causing hepatic and renal failure that can be fatal. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving poisoning by mushrooms.

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever gone mushroom picking? If not, would you? What does your answer say about you?

Art Prompt: Death cap

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of death by mushroom.

Photo Credit: J. Maughn on Flickr

In December 2016, 74 people died in a mass methanol poisoning in Irkutsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia, Russia. Precipitated by drinking counterfeit surrogate alcohol, the death toll led one news agency to call it “unprecedented in its scale”.

While Russia is one of the highest consumers of alcohol per capita in the world, the use of non-traditional surrogate alcohols rapidly rose in the 2010s due to ongoing economic difficulties in Russia. With a price far below that of government-regulated vodka, surrogates reached an estimated height of twenty percent of the country’s alcohol consumption by 2016. These products were often nearly pure alcohol that could be diluted to a rough approximation of vodka, and were frequently available at all hours via strategically placed vending machines. In the Irkutsk incident, the victims drank scented bath lotion that was mislabeled as containing drinkable ethanol.

In the aftermath of the poisoning, regulations on products being used as surrogate alcohols were tightened around the country. Politicians announced a temporary ban on non-food items with more than 25 percent alcohol, and health officials publicly mooted imposing a state monopoly on Russia’s perfume and pharmaceutical industries. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a mass poisoning set in the world of your current WIP.

Journaling Prompt: How much alcohol do you drink and why do you drink it?

Art Prompt: Drinking death

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the 2016 mass methanol poisoning in Russia.

Photo Credit: Gnusam on Flickr


Poisoning used to be a much more effective method of doing away with your enemies, thanks largely in part to the ineffectiveness of historical antidotes and medicine. One fabled poison cure was the bezoar, a hardened spherical deposit of indigestible material that forms in the gastrointestinal tract of hoofed animals.

For hundreds of years, bezoars were believed to be able to render any and all poison inert. And when you couldn’t get your hands on a naturally occurring bezoar, you could, for the right price, opt for an artificially created bezoar known as a Goa Stone.

Bezoars, which appear as stone-like lumps, can form from hair, seeds, fruit pits, rocks, calcium, or pretty much anything that has trouble passing naturally through an organic system. They are most often formed in the bodies of hoofed animals like goats or deer, although bezoars taken from Asian porcupines were also popular…

Possibly the most famous use of a bezoar was in an experiment by the 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré, who set out to prove that they were not actually the cure to all poison. A cook sentenced to be hanged agreed to be poisoned instead, just so long as he could be administered a bezoar immediately after, to be set free if he lived. The cook died just hours later, and Paré’s experiment had proved that the power of the bezoar was not quite what it seemed. –Atlas Obscura

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story with a protagonist who is constantly afraid of being poisoned.

Journaling Prompt: What lengths do you go to for self-protection?

Art Prompt: Poison

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about strange remedies from history, including bezoars.

Lindor Truffles

In 1870, Christiana Edmunds was living in Brighton with her mother and having an affair with her across-the-street neighbor, Doctor Arthur Beard. At some point towards the end of the year, Beard let her know that he wanted to end the affair. He was married. He wasn’t going to leave his wife. So Edmunds decided that he wouldn’t have to. She visited the house with some chocolate creams. Mrs. Beard ate one, and promptly got very sick. She recovered. The doctor suspected something, but didn’t want anyone to know about his affair, and when he confronted Edmunds, she loudly claimed that she, too had eaten a chocolate and gotten sick.
In 1871, a great deal of people became ill in that neighborhood — most of them after purchasing chocolate creams from the local store. The symptoms coincided with those of strychnine poisoning… –Esther Inglis-Arkell (read the rest of the story at io9)

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a poisoner.

Journaling Prompt: Do you allow any part of your life to be ruled by fear?

Art Prompt: Death by chocolate

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about modern strategies for product safety.

Photo Credit: cacaobug on Flickr


Very few poisons are really undetectable. The best people can do is commit murder with a poison that’s relatively rare. –Esther Ingliss-Arkell

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story that involves a poison.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite mystery story. What is it that appealed to you in the story? What did you learn from it?

Art Prompt: Poison

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the types of poisons that  characters use in mysteries and the psychology of a poisoner.

Photo Credit: Mark Knobil on Flickr


mithridatism noun: The developing of immunity to a poison by taking gradually increasing doses of it.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in whatever you write today.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a poison that you indulge in (gossip, holding grudges, etc.) and how it affects you.

Art Prompt: Mithridatism

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Use the word of the week in your article or speech.

Photo Credit: Cavin on Flickr
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Rattlesnake at Montaña de Oro  img_9901001

This reading surprised me by flipping the idea of dangerous animals into the idea of protectors.

‘Poisonous ‘ plants and creatures can be evoked as protectors, protectors of place. Within a bioregion, they protect the deeper forest and are allies to their ecologies. As allies of human beings, they protect against drowsiness and insensitivity, preventing us from charging through fragile terrain with a heavy foot and blind eye. They teach alertness and respect as we interact with place. They also evoke certain qualities within humans. One can like the jaguar stalk and enjoy the night, blend with the environment and disappear into its body. Protectors teach humans to sing like wolf, to go inside like bear, and to relax like snake. -Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom

Writing Prompt: Write a scene showing how danger protects your character.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your feelings toward dangerous plants and animals.

Art Prompt: Dangerous protector

Photo Credit: Mike Baird on Flickr
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