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Eating animals that have eaten toxic plants

Category: Food


Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

In the same way that a larvae eating the leaves or other parts of a plant can hold the psychoactive chemicals of the plant in its body, [eating grubs] there are instances where animals do exactly the same thing.  Sometimes the toxins and chemicals they eat appear in the meat, sometimes in their milk, sometimes their blood, sometimes all three.

Pigs - Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, of which the most prevalent are solanine and chaconine. These compounds, which protect the plant from its predators, are, in general, concentrated in its leaves, stems, sprouts, and fruits.  Solanine is a deleriant.  Solanine is also found in other plants in the family Solanaceae, which includes such plants as the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and tobacco (Nicotiana) as well as the potato, eggplant, and tomato.
But a number of animals seem to be immune to the effects of the Solanaceae plant and happily eat the leaves, stems, sprouts and fruits with no ill effects.  One of those animals appears to be the pig.  According  to the book ‘The Individuality of the Pig – its breeding feeding and management ‘ [1926] – Robert Morrison, it was quite normal to feed pigs on ‘potato haulm’.  As such, it may be that eating a pig’s liver after it has consumed a large quantity of potato left overs may have some interesting effects.

 Ducks - I also found that  Pliny the Younger said that "The blood of a duck found in a certain district of Pontus, is supposed to live on ‘poisonous’ food, and the blood of this duck is afterwards used in the preparation of the Mithridatum, because it fed on these  plants and suffered no harm.".

Giraffes  - feed on acacia and numerous species of acacia contain' psychedelic chemicals'.  The Humr tribe of Baggara Arabs who live in south-western Kordofan in the Sudan are keen hunters of the elephant and the giraffe. After killing a giraffe the hunters make camp and prepare a drink called umm nyolokh from its liver and bone marrow. The hunters say that the making of this drink is the main reason for hunting the giraffe.

Bears - see the observation

Goat's Milk - I also found a number of observations that appear to indicate that drinking the milk of animals that have fed on psychoactive herbs and plants can also provide ‘interesting’ effects – like near death.   Helleborus niger, for example, is poisonous and a deliriant.  Black hellebore contains helleborin and helleborcin, both very dangerous poisons.  Helleborin is a cardiac poison but goats eat it with no ill effects.  Steve Andrews  in ‘Herbs of the Northern Shaman’ states that “Melampode after Melampus, a physician of around 1400BC … is reported to have used the milk of the goats, after they had been eating the herb, to cure the mental derangement of the daughters of Proetus, King of Argus”.   My only reaction was ‘Crikey’.

How it works



Related observations