What or Who is a Zombie ?
Well I am not talking about literally becoming a dead body but about a natural phenomenon which anyone of us can exhibit provided proper and monitored steps are taken.A dead body is basically someone whose heart has stopped beating and there is no blood flow in his veins.Only for a few minutes,but even we can do that,so isn’t that equivalent to being a zombie?
To understand the zombie phenomenon and its Haitian roots, an appreciation of the practice of vodou (sometimes spelled voodoo or vodun) is needed. A religion based in West Africa, voodou is still practiced in varying forms throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, South America and other places with a strong African heritage. Vodou spirituality has a rich tradition of fetish objects, including the so-called “voodoo doll.” Practitioners of vodou also place a particular importance on herbal remedies and other concoctions that may include animal parts, such as bones and hair, dried plants, shells, minerals or other ingredients.
Puffer fish, or fugu, is well-known for being a dish that stands a good chance of killing the person it is served to. But people still eat it — There are two reasons for it :
- Some people like living life on the edge
- All people like getting high.
Lets Find out how the puffer fish helps them get there.
The puffer fish, belongs to the family of tetraodontidae, and protects itself in the wild by gulping down water and swelling up its belly to make itself look bigger and dangerous. It does this because, apparently, it can’t find a way to communicate a simple message, “I am poisonous”
These fishes are considered to be the second most poisonous vertebrates in the world. They contain a toxin 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. It’s in their skin, their ovaries, their gonads, and their liver. One fish can kill at least thirty people.
Now the next question that arises in our minds is,”how is a fish going to help us become a zombie?“Seekers across the world consume this fish and there are a lot of changes that they go through,post consuming this fish.What exactly happens when we consume this fish?
What does this fish have that makes us a zombie ?
Biologists think pufferfish, also known as blowfish, developed their famous “inflatability” because of their slow, somewhat clumsy swimming style which makes them vulnerable to predators. In lieu of escape, pufferfish use their highly elastic stomachs and the ability to quickly ingest huge amounts of water (and even air when necessary) to turn themselves into a virtually inedible ball several times their normal size. Some species also have spines on their skin to make them even less palatable.The Tetraodontidae are a family of marine and esturain family of the order Tetraodinito.
The family includes many familiar species, which are variously called pufferfish, puffers, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab.
They are morpholgically similar to the closely related porcupine-fish, which have large external spines (unlike the thinner, hidden spines of the Tetraodontidae, which are only visible when the fish has puffed up). Their scientific name refers to four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks , their natural prey.
The majority of pufferfish species are toxic and some are among the most poisonous vertebates in the world. In certain species, the internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes their skin, contain tetrodotoxin and are highly toxic to most animals when eaten; nevertheless, the meat of some species is considered a delicacy, when prepared by specially trained chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.
Tetrodotoxin attacks to what is known as site 1 of a fast voltage gated sodium channel . Site 1 is located at the extracellular pore opening of an ion channel. The binding of any molecules to this site will temporarily disable the function of the ion channel, thereby blocking the passage of sodium ions into the nerve cell (which is ultimately necessary for nerve conduction)Neosaxinotxin and several of the conotoxins also attack at the same sites.
The use of this toxin as a biochemical probe has elucidated two distinct types of voltage-gated sodium channels present in humans:
- Tetrodotoxin-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channel (TTX-s Na+ channel)
- Tetrodotoxin-resistant voltage-gated sodium channel (TTX-r Na+ channel)
Tetrodotoxin binds to TTX-s Na+ channels with a binding affinity of 5–15 nM, while the TTX-r Na+ channels bind TTX with low micromolar affinity. Nerve cells containing TTX-r Na+ channels are located primarily in cardiac tissue, while nerve cells containing TTX-s Na+ channels dominate the rest of our body. TTX and its analogs have historically been important agents for use as chemical tool compounds, for use in channel characterization and in fundamental studies of channel function. The prevalence of TTX-s Na+ channels in the central nervous system makes tetrodotoxin a valuable agent for the silencing of neural activity within a cell culture.
Symptoms of Tetrodotoxin – Becoming a Zombie
The diagnosis of pufferfish poisoning is based on the observed symptomatology and recent dietary history.Symptoms typically develop within 30 minutes of ingestion, but may be delayed by up to four hours.However, if the dose is fatal, symptoms are usually present within 17 minutes of ingestion.
Paralysis of the lips and tongue is followed by developing paresthesia in the extremities, hypersalivation, sweating, headache, weakness, lethargy, in-coordination, tremor, paralysis, cynosis, aphonia, dyspahgia , and seizures.
The gastrointestinal symptoms are often severe and include nausea, vomitting, diarea , and abdominal pain. Death is usually secondary to respiratory failure. There is an increasing respiratory distress, speech gets affected, and the victim usually exhibits dyspanea, cynaosis, mydirasis, and hypotension.
Paralysis keeps on increasing, and convulsions, mental impairment, and cardiac arethemia may take place. The victim, although completely paralyzed, may be conscious and in some cases completely lucid until shortly before death, which generally occurs within 4 to 6 hours (range ~20 minutes to ~8 hours). However, some victims may enter a state of coma .
If the patient survives 24 hours, recovery without any residual effects will usually occur over a few days.
These 24 hours,his heart may stop beating,his lungs may fail or anything could happen,but if this poison is taken in proper quantity,you will only enjoy its high.Your mind will enter an entirely different stage of consciousness.a person who is exposed to a certain amount of zombie powder containing tetrodotoxin can slip into a vegetative state resembling death.
Sources of Tetrodotoxin other than Pufferfish
- Certain angelfish
- Several species of the blue-ringed octopus,including Hapalochlaena maculosa (where it was called “maculotoxin”)
- Species of Niotha gastropods
- Species of genus Naticidae (moon snails)
- Several starfish, including Astropecten species
- Several species of xanthid crabs
- Species of Chaetognatha (arrow worms)
- Species of Nemertea (ribbon worms)
- A Polyclad flatworm
- Land planarians of the genus Bipalium
- Toads of the genus Atelopus
- Western, rough-skinned newts of the genus Taricha (wherein it was originally termed “tarichatoxin”)
- The Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Several animals contain tetrodotoxin in their tissues; the liver, eyes and ovaries of the pufferfish (genus Takifugu) have especially high amounts of the lethal nerve toxin. Though regarded as a delicacy in Japan, the fish and some of its organs (especially the liver) are banned as food items in many places because of the dangers.
In small amounts, tetrodotoxin causes numbness, tingling and a not-unpleasant sensation of floating — even euphoria — according to reports from brave gourmands who have sampled carefully prepared pufferfish. High levels of the toxin, however, can cause death within minutes due to respiratory failure.But at sublethal doses, the toxin can leave a victim in a state of suspended animation.
Medicinal Uses of Tetrodotoxin
There are some medical uses of the toxin too. Tetrodotoxin has proved handy in the treatment of :
- Intense pain
- Cardiac Arrhythmias
- Terminal cancers