Voodoo Zombies Might Actually Have Existed

The thought of the dead digging out of their graves has become less scary over the years, thanks to our modern pop culture obsession with the phenomenon of zombies. Franchises like The Walking Dead and Resident Evil are heavily to blame. They're great, for sure, but they don't give us the scare that zombie films used to instill in our grandparents. But that would all change if zombies turned out to be real.

Zombies are actually from the Haitian tradition of Voodoo. They're corpses reanimated by Voodoo practitioners to act as slaves. The tradition is an old one. Numerous zombie-happenings have been reported throughout the centuries in stories and by medical professionals. According to Harper's Magazine, most of the Haitian population still believes in the living dead. And why shouldn't they? The walking corpses that were once legend have been discovered, in recent decades, to be a reality, and a person with the right concoction could make a zombie out of anyone of us. Creepy, right?

Drugs, and something like death

Anthropologist Zora Hurston postulated in 1938 the material existence of zombies, created through means of a secret drug that was brought over from Africa and passed down in Haiti through generations of Voodoo practitioners. Zombies, said Hurston, were not the living dead, but rather mimicked death through a chemical that effected speech and thinking ability. As Harper's reported, it turned out that Hurston was right.

Picking up on Hurston's work, researcher Wade Davis went down to Haiti to find the composition of the zombie drug. Davis discovered five different recipes, but each recipe contained five identical ingredients, with one that could explain the zombie effect: the pufferfish. The pufferfish toxin tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin that mimics death when it doesn't outright kill. Zombies will often be buried because of this, only to be awakened in their coffin by the zombie maker, who then feeds them a nice dose of a psychoactive drug known as "zombie cucumber."

Being a zombie isn't a permanent death sentence, however. Many Haitian zombies have been treated by doctors and recovered. The Voodoo zombie doesn't eat brains, doesn't rot away, and certainly can't spread his zombie-ism by biting some unsuspecting girl who took a walk in the wrong graveyard.