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Henbane: Pilsener, Potion, or Poison?
"Henbane" is new colorful antique botanicalk from Ziva of RetroCollage. Available in many sizes, it is a wonderful addition for any kitchen or family room.
By: Ziva of RetroCollage
In the Middle Ages, henbane was widely used in Germany to augment the inebriating qualities of beer. The names of many German towns originate from the word “Bilsen”–henbane. Later on, the word was transformed to Pilsen to name the famous Pilsen beer. It took many years to prohibit the use of henbane in brewing after numerous cases of poisoning. Henbane was much used as a medicine in former times. Until relatively recently, medical demand for henbane was so great that it could not be met by harvesting the wild plant alone, and it was thereafter grown in gardens as well.
The active ingredients of henbane are extracted from its leaves and flowering tops (both collected during the flowering period) and occasionally from the fruits. The ancient Greeks believed that people under the influence of the herb became prophetic, and the priestesses of the Oracle of Delphi are claimed to have inhaled the smoke from smouldering henbane. The entire plant is highly toxic, with the leaves being the most poisonous part – so much so that the mere smell of the fresh leaves has been found to cause giddiness and stupor in some people. The “-bane” in henbane refers to an Old English word for death, so the name as a whole refers to a belief that poultry, most notably hens, were particularly vulnerable to the effects of eating its seeds.
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