Zombies : are a very real phenomenon typically associated with the voodoo practicing, West Indian country of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.  Zombies are persons who have 'died' but are not really dead, they are alive in a state of being, referred to as the undead.  Evil sorcerers called bokors bring their victims back to a zombie state of life.  This life is not a full life but a weird half-life where the zombie is incapable of thinking for itself, and it has no prior knowledge as to who it was.  The bokors take their victims to remote areas where they are put to work as slaves.  The whole idea of zombies is so ingrained in the psyche of the locals, that even the poorest of peasants are willing to pay quite large amounts of money to have heavy slabs placed on the coffins of their loved ones.  This is thought to deter the bokors.

An American biologist Wade Davis suspected that some mysterious substances were used in zombification and he set about to find them.  He discovered two noteworthy constituents:

- tetrodotoxin - obtained from puffer fish - an effective nerve poison, inducing deep paralysis.

- A fluid - secreted by the skin glands of the highly poisonous cane toad Bufo marinus - an effective hallucinogen and strong anaesthetic.

Other drugs such as 'zombie cucumber' Datura stramonium were thought to aid in the resuscitation and mind control of the victim.

It was also found that if persons that had been paralysed using the above drugs and left in their coffins too long, the effects of the mind controlling drug Datura stramonium were enhanced due to oxygen starvation, also adding to irreversible brain damage.

The idea of a rotting corpse brought back to life possibly has more to do with the work of novels and movies.  However the idea of zombies as drugged individuals, pronounced dead and then buried alive in a coffin awaiting complete brainwashing appears to hold more truth.


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