The True Cause of the Salem Witch Trials.
When one speaks of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 most people think of the massive tragedy in which many innocent women were embarrassed, jailed, and worst of all killed. What people do not think of is the actual cause for such an outrageous and absurd time in early America. Many theories have arisen over time about why these murders took place, many of which are possible and quite logical. However, as much as researchers and historians will try, Americans today may never factually know what the true cause of these trials were. There are three main theories which seem to be the most popular among researchers and historians alike. Many believe that the girls and women of the trials were victims of ergot poisoning. An illness contracted by the eating of infected bread, which can cause very unusual and unpleasant symptoms. Others say that the girls were truly bewitched, a theory that has been long since discarded by most. The true cause of these massive errors in society was merely conversion hysteria and "sporting.".
A very accepted and logical theory about the Salem Witch Trials was that the girls were victims of ergot poisoning. "Ergot is a disease of rye and other cereals caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea" ("Ergot"). The body of the ergot on the rye contains alkaloids that are toxic to humans and livestock (Megadog). Ergot poisoning, results from eating bread made of rye contaminated with ergot. "Ergot poisoning is characterized by constriction of blood vessels, resulting in numbness and the development of gangrene; it may also affect the nervous system ("Ergot"). Some results or symptoms of ergot poisoning include women miscarrying, or becoming infertile, hallucinations, and gangrene in extremities (Megadog). It is true that some of the symptoms of the girls "bewitched" were similar to the symptoms of ergot poisoning. However, if ergot was in the bread of Salem more people (including men) would have had some of the same symptoms, which is why this theory is wrong.