Date of Publishing:
February 22, 2018

2018 © Simon Brugner

The Arsenic Eaters

Simon Brugner

The book The Arsenic Eaters investigates the widespread historical belief that the consumption of arsenic, one of the most potent mineral poisons, is beneficial to one’s health. Accordingly, many poison eaters were found among rural population in the eastern parts of the Alps. Still accessible arsenic mines in that region date back as far as the 14th century.

© Simon Brugner

Although being a popular custom among hard-working people, arsenic eaters were anxious to conceal their use. They ingested arsenic to be strong and healthy, to look rosy, to boost their sexual potency. Eating arsenic was a taboo. It was believed that once a person became an arsenic eater the habit could not be stopped: it would bring rapid decline and inevitable death.The first part of the book utilizes contemporary photographs and archival material to sketch a possible reality in which arsenic eating seems plausible. The second part presents cultural-historical research findings on the topic.

2018, 20.5 cm × 30 cm, 144 pages, publisher: The Eriskay Connection/NL


– See also: Simon Brugner
– See also: Arsen das Kokain der steirischen Bauersleut’.(German only)