witches’ brew (noun)Merriam-Webster Dictionary
: a potent or fearsome mixture
MANY years ago I imbibed in a glass (or two or three…🙄) of “Howl-o-green” punch at a Halloween party. The punch was spiked with Jagermeister causing some disturbing hallucinations and a massively painful hangover the next morning. I thought my dad was wearing a gorilla mask ( he wasn’t!) and I was so sick I needed phenergan to treat the nausea. Needless to say, the mere mention of witches’ brew makes me gag a little bit. “Howl-o-green” punch is a truly fearsome witches’ brew!
The true story of witches’ brew is fascinating…
In 1753, William Withering, a physician in rural England, went from town to town with his bag of medications visiting his sick patients. One day, while he was changing horses in a town, a man approached him and told him of his wife’s illness. Dr. Withering went to see the woman. She had dropsy, which again today would be called congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, as there was no cure for dropsy at that time and it was fatal. Dr. Withering thought the case was hopeless and sent the old woman on her way.
A few weeks later, this same man approached Withering as he passed through town and told him of the amazing recovery his wife had made. Withering went to see the woman and asked what she had taken. She told him it was a “witches brew” that was prescribed for her. She was very excited to share that she was unwilling to give up after her dire diagnosis, so she sought out what was alternative treatment at that time and learned about witches brew from the gypsies. There were chants and rituals and all kinds of things in the witches brew. She followed along with the chants, the rituals and drank the brew, and got better.
Dr. Withering spent the rest of his career not only hunting down the gypsy to learn what was exactly was in the witches brew or “magic potion” but rigorously going through each ingredient one by one to find out what exactly helped his patient. He asked to see the ingredients and this is where, as in all aspects of science and medicine, serendipity can play a big role. Besides being a physician, Withering was trained as a botanist. He recognized one of the close to 20 ingredients on the list as a plant that was very prominent in that area of England, and it turns out, in many other places in the world. That ingredient in her potion was purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). He then performed a clinical trial of sorts, testing different doses and formulations on 163 patients. After that day, Back then they didn’t have clinical trials so it was trial and error. After trying various preparations of the foxglove in varying dosages in hundreds of patients he concluded that it was of a great benefit as long as it was carefully titrated to avoid the toxicities of overly slow pulse and vomiting. He found out the eye of newt and the rest of the ingredients along with the chants and rituals were a complete waste, the vital ingredient was foxglove. This plant foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.), the source of digitalis, which we still use today, over 200 years later, for congestive heart failure.THE TRUE STORY OF WITCHES BREW
December 5, 2017
by Jolie Abreu
This witches’ brew is harmless! It reads…”Dr. Jekyll…10/31/1775…Drink the brew in the light of the full moon. Dance and chant around the cauldron.”
I filled the little purple bag with a spiced tea mixture. The worst that will happen is you’ll get a caffeine jolt!
If I get a burst of energy, I may whip up a few more of these skull favor boxes to give out to friends for Halloween. I used digital images from the new Taylormadecards4u Halloween Passport Kit to decorate the box.
I printed some of the images on white card stock, trimmed and distressed the edges for a fun spooky look.
I resized the cards in Photoshop Elements to 2.25″, printed on white card stock and trimmed. I clipped the cards together with binder clips and brushed a few layers of Club Scrap’s Bookbinding glue to the top edge and let it dry. BOO! A Trick or Treat notepad!
Click HERE to check out more “spooktacular” Halloween inspiration from the Taylormadecards4u inspiration team!