Mithridatism

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Mithridatism

Postby Sabina » Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:44 pm

I've been researching and perusing this and that and came across the below information on poisoning oneself in order to build up immunity. I have always been mildly fascinated by this subject, with its possibilities, as well as the symbolism of it. The thought behind it, that a little bit of "the bad stuff" makes you immune to larger quantities of "the bad", in turn making you stronger.

Here is a famous scene, the battle of wits, from the movie "Princess Bride".
It is also related to the topic.



Mithridatism is the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts. The word derives from Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus, who so feared being poisoned that he regularly ingested small doses, aiming to develop immunity. Having been defeated by Pompey, legend has it that Mithridates tried to commit suicide using poison but failed because of his immunity and so had to resort to having a mercenary run him through with his sword.

It has been suggested that Russian mystic Rasputin was able to resist the poison of assassins due to mithridatism.

Indian epics talk about this practice too. It has been said that, during the rule of the king Chandragupta Maurya (320-298 BCE), there was a practice of selecting beautiful girls and administering poison in small amounts until they grow up, thus making them insensitive to poison. These maidens were called vishakanyas (visha = poison, kanya = maiden); making love with vishakanyas can result in death of their partners, hence they were employed to kill enemies.

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Mithridate, also known as as mithridatium, mithridatum, or mithridaticum, is a semi-mythical remedy with as many as 65 ingredients, used as an antidote for poisoning, and said to be created by Mithradates VI Eupator of Pontus. It was among one of the most complex, highly sought-after drugs during the Middle Age and Renaissance, particularly in Italy and France, where they were in continual use for centuries. An updated recipe called theriac (Theriacum Andromachi) was known well into the 19th century.

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Re: Mithridatism

Postby mirjana » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:35 pm

It is very interesting topic. I didn't know for this phrase. So, thank you Sabina.
This video is also very interesting and really funny.
As much as I know, the same thing is possible with snake venom and wasp and bee venom.
Wasps' stingers are loaded with very potent venom, and unlike honeybees, wasps can sting a victim multiple times.
My uncle used to have bees. He injected himself gradually their venom by purpose and with the time he became completely immune to it. It is also proved to be a remedy when applied like that. My mother used to have a hard pain for months in her right hand. He treated her so that for 21 day he had given to her each day one bee bite more, starting from one and finishing with 21. The cure was to continue backwards, from 21 to one, each day one less. She was completely cured and never again had pain or problems with that hand.
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