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    Wroclaw Scientists Successfully Recreate Ancient Antidote for Poisoning

    Researchers from the Wroclaw Medical University have become the first in the world to faithfully reproduce a medicinal concoction that was popular in Europe from antiquity to the 18th century. This remedy, known as theriac consists of 71 substances. Surprisingly, the recreated theriac was found to be closer to a placebo than the miraculous elixir it was believed to be by ancient physicians.


    Theriac was recommended since ancient times as an antidote for poisoning, gaining particular significance during epidemics, where it was thought to protect against illness and death. However, due to its high cost, only a few could afford it during outbreaks. Licensed pharmacists exclusively handled its production, with Venetian theriac being the most esteemed for its exemplary recipe. The licensing system facilitated the spread of theriac production in Poland.

    71 ingredients

    A total of 71 ingredients were used in the reconstruction, with snakes posing a challenge as the main component. “We managed to achieve this without sacrificing any snakes for the purposes of our project. We only utilized those that did not survive in their natural environment,” assured Dr Danuta Raj.

    Obtaining other ingredients, such as those from Asia or Africa, required significant creativity, with help coming from filmmakers who brought lemon grass and bloggers and missionaries assisting in the acquisition of other components.

    The reconstruction of theriac by pharmacists in Wroclaw was based on a recipe from a licensed pharmacist in Torun, written in 1630, whose practical use was historically confirmed during a plague epidemic.

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