Tuesday, 31 July 2012

BURUNDANGA : Angel's trumpets & zombies

The last few years, there's one word that strikes my mind whenever I admire the swaying blooms of my Brugmansias. It's again that time of the year.

 Every year in Colombia & neighbouring countries, but also Thailand, there are quite a few reported cases of the criminal use of burundanga, a mysterious drug that allegedly turns people into human puppets. These stories warn people that, for example, a young woman was recently assaulted after receiving a poisoned business card at a gas station. Shortly after handling the attacker’s card she began to feel dizzy and was nearly attacked by the thieves. Customers have been robbed by a salesman after eating spicy food, a girl came to hospital only to find out she was abducted and sexually abused, etc.

Such stories strongly warned the reader to beware doped cards and this new, mysterious drug: the dreaded ‘burundanga' ! Some of these stories are definitely false or just a myth, but Burundanga isn’t made up. And it might be more dangerous than even the myth makes it out to be.

I'm sure that all of you Angel's Trumpets' lovers and admirers out there know that all parts of Brugmansia and Datura plants are poisonous both to humans and animals. I've heard strange stories from people who were, to mildly put it, some sort of seekers of visionary experiences. They claimed that chewing the seeds of these plants gave them heavy hallucinations for days. Other than a raised eyebrow, at the time being my conclusion was that every fool has it's rainbow and that there was obviously a reason why these plants were called locoweed, Jimson weed, the devil’s cucumber and so on and so forth.
Nevertheless, upon watching the video on the world's scariest drug, and at the same time being a huge admirer of these astonishing plants, I was determined to find out what's hiding behind the pretty face.

So basically, it all starts with Brugmansia plant, which has a high content of scopolamine (burundanga) – an extremely toxic chemical that can be lethal to humans, and that produces psychoactive effects. Its Spanish name, El Borrachero (The Drunkard), is even more instructive. The theory, supported by health officials and victims, is that under the influence of burundanga, people are robbed of their free will and turned into puppets, completely susceptible to the suggestions of criminals.
What’s really scary about this drug is the ease that it can be administered. It can be ingested, inhaled, or imbibed. One of the myths is that you can just blow it in people’s faces. And while both toxic clouds of powder and doped business cards are unlikely to be true, the drug should be quite easy to slip into an unsuspecting person’s drink or food. Victims are said to become docile and agreeable ‘zombies’ who are not only compliant with requests but even eager to help. Stories circulate about people who have invited robbers into their own homes under the effects of burundanga. In his brilliant investigative article on Burundanga,  Nick Olle of Global Mail writes that ''
according to Colonel Mariano Botero Coy of the Bogotá Metropolitan Police, the modus operandi of these criminals - and he says they are generally gangs rather than individuals - is true to the stereotype.
"In many cases it is a man alone in a nightspot and a woman manages to put the substance in his drink," he says.
"The victim then loses their free will; they are conscious of what is happening but they lose their free will."
There's even a verb for this type of crime - burundangear. And actor Matías Maldonado, has twice been a victim. Both times - in 2003 and 2005 - he was "in the context of seduction…vulnerable" in a gay district of downtown Bogotá. His recollection of the first time he was drugged amounts to waking up confused and discovering his bank account was empty. But on the second occasion, he remembers going to an ATM with a man he'd met in a bar. "I was completely conscious at this stage," he says, "we returned to the bar and I used the money I'd withdrawn to buy drinks.
"I can only assume that at this point he spiked my drink and we went back to the ATM and emptied my account. I don't remember this part but the next day, I still had my bank card but there was a balance of zero.
"It's incredible to think that this can happen, that you can freely give the code to your bank account to someone. There are even cases where people take someone to their home, open the door and help them clear everything out." The article continues about modern burundanga ajd a tendency in Colombia to use the terms "scopolamine" and burundanga as a catchall for all cases in which criminals take advantage of drugged victims. The reality is that many of these cases now involve new burundanga or other illicit cocktails that may or may not include scopolamine.
Just like Brugmansia, there are limitless records of stories on Datura stramonium about it being traditionally used by voodoo sorcerers to create subservient zombies from living humans.
Before you are scared off from this blog post and from Angel's trumpets in general, have in mind
that apart from their undeniable beatuy, some good does come from these plants. Its alkaloid ingredients have become widely used in medicine as sedatives and amnesiacs. Hyoscyamine can help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and if you have ever had your pupils dilated and it might have been with scopolamine.
 Now that there's some info revealed behind this pretty face, I'm trying to find reasons why I, myself, am so amazed by sheer beauty of this plants and their smell, and why, upon visiting a garden center, I'm drawn to any variety of Brugmansias but also Daturas, secretly hoping that it might be another new variety that I still haven't added to my collection. Is this what happens when a person gets obsessed with growing Brugmansias? Could it be that the narcotic effect of the first open flower creates an unyielding hunger for more....? Is the slowly developing addiction to scopolamine unconsciously forcing the grower to dream of acquiring more and more Brugmansia plants, because this means a larger dose of smell and thereby more narcotic? Does the intoxifying effect on the grower explain, why so many of them become so passionated about Brugmansia that they start neglecting other important things in life? If so, my dear Brugmansia-lovers, you have been burundangeared (yes, there's even a verb for this type of addiction/crime - burundangear) forever to remain zombies...

5 komentari:

gardenbrae said...

Lady Greenthumbs Breaking Bad in the garden with brugmansia of all sorts. Great blog!

Flower Pot said...

What a beautiful plant with some scary side effects. Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

Where can I buy the seeds for this?

Anonymous said...

i will like to buy also the seeds of beautifull angel trompets

tamboenman said...

Wherever do you get your inspiration from? This site is just awesome! I am really keen on finding out more. Please keep me updated periodically as I would this is too good to miss!

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