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Grizabella  Grizabella is offline
Card Reader/Fortune Teller
Join Date: 08 Jul 2004
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 23,358

This is a quote from a website, the link to which I've added at the end:

A houngan is a Vodun priest, a mambo a priestess and a bokur a Vodun sorcerer believed to be endowed with the power to perform black magic. Powders used by the sorcerers give them power over their victims, with one of those powers being zombification.

In Haiti, zombification is a punishment for severe crimes. Coupe poudre is the powder used by a bokur to induce zombification. The active ingredient of coupe poudre is tetradotoxin (TTX), produced in the liver and ovaries of some species of puffer fish (e.g. Fugu rubripes). TTX is a neurotoxin 500 times more potent than cyanide. It acts by blocking the sodium ion channels which enable nerve and heart cells to produce electrical impulses. In miniscule doses TTX causes a near-death state in which metabolic functions are depressed, so that breathing and pulse rate are undetectable. Total paralysis follows, although the brain and senses remain intact. The victim is thought to be dead and is buried alive.

A few days after being buried, the 'zombie' is disinterred and given another powder containing atropine and scopolamine. These are toxic and hallucinogenic compounds from the plants Datura metel and Datura stramonium (both known as the 'zombie cucumber'). This powder, when administered, puts the victim into a permanent state of delirium and disorientation in which they experience delusions and hallucinations. He or she can then be made to do menial work for those against which the crime was committed.

The puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan. Only small amounts of the fish are edible and preparation is extremely difficult. Only highly trained chefs can remove the organs which produce TTX. Trace amounts of the toxin cause a tingling sensation on the tongue and lips when puffer fish is eaten.

Every year a small number of people eat puffer fish which has not been properly prepared and die by cardiac arrest as a result. There are also cases of people who are buried alive after going into a state of deep suspended coma, hence the Japanese practice of leaving those thought to have been killed by eating puffer fish next to their grave for three days before burial.

However, there are no reported cases of zombification in Japan. The phenomenon of Vodun zombification can be ascribed to the socialization process, in which one acquires personal knowledge of the Vodum religion and the expected effects of the sorcerer's powder.

The link didn't post right, but I added it as a way of giving credit to the place I copied the information from, mostly. It does take you to the article, though.
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