Ergot Poisoning And The Salem Witch Trials

753 Words4 Pages
We’ve all heard the stories of the Salem Witch Trials that occurred in 1692 and 1693. During these harsh times, lives were lost due to the strong religious beliefs of the Puritans who full heartedly believed that the Devil was present in everyday life and that he lived in the woods. In contrast to their popular belief at the time, real scientific evidence has been presented that the reason behind the Salem Witch Trials was actually Ergot Poisoning, not the Devil. According to the article, ergot is a fungus, “that affects the rye grain,” (PBS 2016), which causes numerous side effects. Many factors contribute to the ergot poisoning idea, such as the climate and growing conditions that ergot thrives in, what wheat rye was infected in relation to where the accused and accusers lived as well as the time span, and the symptoms of this type of poisoning. A crucial piece of evidence to the ergot theory is the growing circumstances ergot requires and why grain the people of Salem grew could have so easily circumed to it. For starters, the main crop grown in Salem at this time was rye. This grain is so easily taken over by ergotism, because when wet periods occur the flowers on the rye grain stay open longer, which allows ergot a longer period of time to affect the grain than in most cases. In addition, in order for the ergot to grow on the grain, the crop has to be in a , “warm, damp, swampy place,” (Anna 2012). Throughout the spring and summer months before the winter the witch
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