Can scopolamine / Devil’s Breath powder put a spell on you?!

Can scammers use scopolamine powder, also known as Devil’s Breath, to put a spell on you?! Take a look at the viral video, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Video : Woman Uses Scopolamine / Devil’s Breath To Put Spell On People!

People are sharing a video which purportedly shows a woman using long sleeves with scopolamine powder, also known as Devil’s Breath, to put a spell on people!

👆🏻Watch how she flicks her sleeves into people’s faces. She’s using Scopolomine/hyoscine powder aka Devil’s Breath.

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Scammers Can Use Scopolamine / Devil’s Breath To Induce Loss Of Memory

This is yet another example of half truths circulating on WhatsApp, and social media platforms, and here are the reasons why!

Fact #1 : Video Does Not Appear To Be Genuine

Let me start by pointing out that the viral video does not appear to be genuine. Rather, it appears to be some kind of reenactment by Vietnamese actors.

For one thing, the multiple camera angles suggest that the video was recorded using at least two cameras, and in two different locations to boot. That is pretty much impossible for genuine “caught in action” videos.

The recorded audio was also very clear, even at a distance, and the volume did not change even when the cameraman moved in closer. That suggests that the audio was recorded using a boom microphone hovering near the actors.

Fact #2 : Scopolamine Can Be Used To Induce Loss Of Memory

Scopolamine (which is also known as hyoscine, burundanga or Devil’s Breath) is obtained from nightshade plants. Medically, it is used to treat motion sickness, post-operative nausea and vomiting, among other uses.

Criminals, however, are using scopolamine to render victims unconscious, and cause amnesia – loss of memory. Scopolamine attacks are most common in Colombia, where it is estimated that there are 50,000 victims annually.

In fact, the US Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) issued a 2012 travel advisory warning about scopolamine being used to rob tourists. In March 2019, OSAC further warned that the Colombian National Police have reported an increase in thieves targeting tourists with scopolamine in major Colombian cities.

One common and particularly dangerous method that criminals use in order to rob a victim is through the use of drugs. The most common has been scopolamine.

Unofficial estimates put the number of annual scopolamine incidents in Colombia at approximately 50,000. Scopolamine can render a victim unconscious for 24 hours or more. In large doses, it can cause respiratory failure and death.

The Canadian government also issued a 2022 travel advisory (archive) which warned about the risks of being attacked with scopolamine in Colombia. Scopolamine has also been reportedly used in kidnappings, and sexual assault.

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Fact #3 : Criminals May Not Actually Be Using Scopolamine!

Despite the media frenzy over scopolamine attacks, and government advisories appearing to corroborate them, there isn’t much actual evidence to support claims that scopolamine is actually the drug being used to “zombify” or “put a spell” on people.

As Val Curran, a professor of pharmacology at UCL’s Clinical Pharmacology Unit said, in response to a tabloid story about scopolamine attacks in Paris:

You get these scare stories and they (the victims) have no toxicology, so nobody knows what it is. The idea that it is scopolamine is a bit far-fetched because it could be anything.

That’s partly because scopolamine only remains in the body for about 12 hours, with a half-life of just 4.5 hours. By the time victims wake up, traces of it may already be gone, even if they quickly seek treatment and get tested.

That does not mean that criminals are not using scopolamine to incapacitate victims. It only means that there is little, if any, evidence that scopolamine was actually used in any of those “scopolamine attacks”. It is possible that criminals are using more common drugs like Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), GHB, clonazepam, etc.

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Fact #3 : Scopolamine Attacks Usually Through Spiked Drinks

While there have been claims that criminals are throwing scopolamine in the faces of their victims, or applied it on pamphlets or items, experts have questioned those methods.

For one thing – skin absorption is low and slow – transdermal patches, for example, are used over hours and days. Even when delivered through an injection, scopolamine takes effect after 20 minutes. So throwing powder into someone’s face would not immediately cause someone to lose consciousness or memory.

It is far more likely that criminals are spiking food and drinks, or even cigarettes, with scopolamine or other drugs. That could explain why most attacks occur during dates, or in night clubs or bars, as OSAC warned:

Scopolamine is most often administered in liquid or powder form in foods and beverages. The majority of these incidents occur in night clubs and bars, and usually men, perceived to be wealthy, are targeted by young, attractive women.

It is recommended that, to avoid becoming a victim of scopolamine, a person should never accept food or beverages offered by strangers or new acquaintances, nor leave food or beverages unattended in their presence. Victims of scopolamine or other drugs should seek immediate medical attention.

In fact, anecdotal reports by victims mostly show that their last memory was drinking beer or some kind of beverage with the perpetrators, like these examples:

Here is the takeaway – you should never go to nightclubs and bars on your own, and you should never leave your food or drinks unattended, or accept food or drinks from strangers.

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Fact #4 : No Evidence Scopolamine Can Be Delivered Via Sleeves

While there are reports of criminals slipping powered drugs like scopolamine into drinks and even throwing it into the faces of their victims, there is no report of anyone actually using long sleeves impregnated with scopolamine.

An online search also showed no evidence that any criminal ever used long sleeves to deliver scopolamine or other hypnotic / psychotropic substances to a victim.

It really seems very unlikely that sleeves impregnated with scopolamine would be able to deliver a large enough dose quickly enough to incapacitate anyone, or make them amnesic.

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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