Some of the molecules that witches used were cardiac glycosides, mandrake, deadly nightshade, and henbane. The cardiac glycosides are known to regularize heart rhythm, reduce heart rate, and strengthen heartbeats. A very common form of the cardiac glycosides that witches used was the digoxin molecule. The digoxin molecule is in foxglove which is rumored to have curative abilities. Digoxin is made up of three sugar units, but it lacks the OH group on the steroid ring. Mandrake, deadly nightshade, and henbane all contain the main alkaloids hyoscyamine and hyoscine. These molecules mixed together in an ointment supposedly had the ability to make witches fly when they rubbed it on their bodies. Hyoscyamine and hyoscine are very similar in their structure, except that hyoscine has one more oxygen group than hyoscyamine. The same molecules of witchcraft that healed people also hurt people. They hurt people in the way that if one was caught using them or even accused of it, they would be put to a test and die no matter what the result was. All types of people were accused of being witches; men, women, children, the poor, and even the rich. The molecules indirectly caused the death of the users because since they used the molecules, or were accused of using them, they were sentenced to death. If someone was to use substances to heal themselves or others, they would be considered a witch during the time period of the Middle Ages. If all of the so-called witches were persecuted during this time frame it would have majorly impacted our future. Without the knowledge that the witches had, people would not have produced our present-day range of pharmaceuticals. This is because the witches had all of the information about each plant that they used and they knew which symptoms they soothed, or if it would increase someone’s health or be detrimental to it. I believe that the molecules in this chapter have grown more prominent in the modern day world. I think this because of the wide variety of medications that have been since the Middle Ages. If we did not use the same molecules and information that the witches used, then I think that the medicine variety would not be as large, and it would be less advanced. In this chapter, I do agree with the author because I feel that her argument makes sense. A point that stands out for me is when she says, “From a molecular point of view, the folklore of the past may be a key to our survival in the future.” This statement is prominent for me because I think that it is very true. Without the witches’ knowledge on the healing powers of herbs, the people in the future would have to start from scratch. They would have to go through each plant and see if it had miraculous healing powers, if it would kill a person, or if in the right dose it would work wonders, but if too much was used it would compromise their health. So, when the author says this statement it stood out to me because I think that the author’s point is valid.
Molecules of Witchcraft