Thread Tools
Old 11-21-2012, 03:36 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Beyond The Fringe
Posts: 28,183
Is it actually possible to build up an immunity to iocane powder?

Everyone knows that it's possible to build up a strong tolerance to certain drugs with frequent use -- alcohol, heroin, nicotine, etc. What about other, more lethal poisons?

Could someone become immune to arsenic, or ricin, by carefully dosing themselves with non-lethal amounts?

Could lactose intolerant people become tolerant, by consuming ever-increasing amounts of dairy products? How about peanut allergies?

Basically, I'm wondering if the scenario presented in The Princess Bride has any possible analogy to real-world poisons, or if the very idea is...umm...inconceivable.
Old 11-21-2012, 04:47 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Hey! I'm located! WOOOOW!
Posts: 38,388
It depends completely on the poison and on why it's a poison.

Lactose: no, having more lactose will not reactivate lactase production on someone who's lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a normal part of the aging process for most people, our bodies slow down production of the enzyme which breaks up lactose. Giving yourself the runs will not make you younger.

Arsenic and other heavy metals: they accumulate in the body. Having small doses is akin to getting punched in the face once every day - it may not hurt as bad as getting a dozen punches all together, but it's still Not A Good Idea nor will it make you stop getting bruises.

Organic compounds which are broken down by the body: many manage to create tolerance while killing you (alcohol is the most famous example). Others will not create tolerance (you still need the same dose to get the same effects, years after using that product) but will still put pressure on the body's chemical equilibrium that wouldn't exist without those compounds - when the reason they're being used is that there was something wrong with the body in the first place, well, it becomes a cost/benefits analysis.

ETA: I'm not trying to be technical here, I'm sure other people will come up with more technical details.

Last edited by Nava; 11-21-2012 at 04:49 AM.
Old 11-21-2012, 05:04 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,902
It may be possible to develop a tolerance to arsenic. Immunity, no.

https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...xic-substances

"To a limited extent, it is possible to build up a tolerance to certain poisonous metals. Metallothioneins are proteins produced in the body that, among other things, seem to bond to ions of dangerous elements like arsenic and cadmium and so help to minimize organ damage and other serious ill effects. While there's no way to become immune to such poisons, chronic exposure to them may I repeat, may stimulate the body into upping its metallothionein output, thus allowing one to take on greater quantities of the toxic stuff before starting to get really sick."
Old 11-21-2012, 05:04 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,524
There was a guy named Mithridates who tried this, then (as legend would have it) found himself unable to commit suicide. The practice of trying to acquire immunity is named after him.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithridatism

Last edited by Mangetout; 11-21-2012 at 05:09 AM.
Old 11-21-2012, 06:43 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 3,315
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
There was a guy named Mithridates who tried this, then (as legend would have it) found himself unable to commit suicide. The practice of trying to acquire immunity is named after him.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithridatism
this is what I opened this thread to post! It was yesterday's Word A Day!
Old 11-21-2012, 06:53 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 10,927
Quote:
Originally Posted by buddha_david View Post
Everyone knows that it's possible to build up a strong tolerance to certain drugs with frequent use -- alcohol, heroin, nicotine, etc. What about other, more lethal poisons?
I can't speak to heroin/nicotine/other drugs, but regarding alcohol, an addict develops a tolerance over time to the intoxicating effects - that is, as his addiction proceeds, it takes more and more alcohol to achieve a high. However, the important thing is that the LD50 doesn't change. The result is that you have a guy who is drinking more and more each time in order to get drunk, trying to land his blood alcohol concentration in an increasingly narrow space between "buzzed" and "clinically dead." If the addiction gets bad enough, that narrow space gets really narrow, and some day he screws up and drinks just a little too much, overshoots the safe zone and ends up dead.
Old 11-21-2012, 07:04 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
There was a guy named Mithridates who tried this, then (as legend would have it) found himself unable to commit suicide. The practice of trying to acquire immunity is named after him.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithridatism
It's not simply legend. As I've observed before on this Board, herpetologist William E. Haast, founder of the Miami Serpentarium, practiced this. His blood was in demand as a treatment for snakebite where there was no available antivenin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haast
Old 11-21-2012, 07:12 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Haast was bitten many times by cobras and other snakes, including mamba and krait. He lost sirculation in his hands near the end of his life, and lost a finger, but ffor years he suffered no ill effects. He died last yea
Old 11-21-2012, 07:32 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 26,234
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Haast was bitten many times by cobras and other snakes, including mamba and krait. He lost sirculation in his hands near the end of his life, and lost a finger, but ffor years he suffered no ill effects. He died last yea
And now you're typing like you lost a finger or two. Handle snakes much?
Old 11-21-2012, 07:43 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
And now you're typing like you lost a finger or two. Handle snakes much?
Ye! hy do y ask?
Old 11-21-2012, 08:37 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Seminole, FL
Posts: 8,525
What snake bite leads to spelling errors?
Old 11-21-2012, 08:38 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisB View Post
What snake bite leads to spelling errors?
I don't know, but the bite of an adder can lead to math errors.
Old 11-21-2012, 08:48 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 28,264
Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisB View Post
What snake bite leads to spelling errors?
The cider and beer kind?
Old 11-21-2012, 09:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Iowa
Posts: 608
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
The cider and beer kind?
I thought that was dog bite?
Old 11-21-2012, 11:21 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
It's not simply legend.
I didn't say it was.
Old 11-21-2012, 11:28 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I didn't say it was.
This makes it sound like that:

Quote:
There was a guy named Mithridates who tried this, then (as legend would have it) found himself unable to commit suicide. The practice of trying to acquire immunity is named after him.
Old 11-21-2012, 01:05 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 13,672
How about electricity? I wonder if I can build up a tolerance if I shock myself repeatedly at slightly increasing doses.

Off to test my theory....
Old 11-21-2012, 01:46 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Ohio
Posts: 480
Quote:
How about electricity? I wonder if I can build up a tolerance if I shock myself repeatedly at slightly increasing doses.
A friend of mine installs control systems in dairies. Due to working with electricity in chronically wet conditions he said "I electrocute myself with monotonous regularity." He has not yet developed an immunity. Perhaps I'll suggest he needs to start upping his dosage to get any benefit.
Old 11-21-2012, 04:36 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
This makes it sound like that:
No it doesn't. It labels the account of him struggling to commit suicide as legendary, not the entire practice of Mithridatism.
Old 11-21-2012, 04:51 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelevra View Post
A friend of mine installs control systems in dairies. Due to working with electricity in chronically wet conditions he said "I electrocute myself with monotonous regularity." He has not yet developed an immunity. Perhaps I'll suggest he needs to start upping his dosage to get any benefit.
Well, of course, if one is dead they can be shocked repeatedly with no ill effects.
Old 11-22-2012, 04:59 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Seminole, FL
Posts: 8,525
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I don't know, but the bite of an adder can lead to math errors.
Precious. So precious. I loved it.
Old 11-22-2012, 08:00 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,497
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
No it doesn't. It labels the account of him struggling to commit suicide as legendary, not the entire practice of Mithridatism.
People don't read what KI have actually written. I wrote that it "makes it sound like that", not that this is what you said. In other words, much as your original is misleading in its phrasing.


I shouldn't try to be meta. Nobody gets it.
Old 11-23-2012, 01:11 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: The Mitt
Posts: 14,209
What about bullets? Can you work up an immunity to bullets?
Old 11-23-2012, 01:59 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 24,004
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmyk View Post
What about bullets? Can you work up an immunity to bullets?
I once read an account of someone who was immune to arrows. It was in a book called "Dungeons and Dragons."
Old 11-23-2012, 03:44 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 6,327
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
It's not simply legend. As I've observed before on this Board, herpetologist William E. Haast, founder of the Miami Serpentarium, practiced this. His blood was in demand as a treatment for snakebite where there was no available antivenin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haast
That's like the most awesome real-world superpower ever! "Bitten by a snake, you say? Here, let me cure you -- with my blood!!"

EDIT: And he lived to 101? Sounds like those 172 snake bites didn't really much impact his life expectancy...

Last edited by Half Man Half Wit; 11-23-2012 at 03:47 AM.
Old 11-23-2012, 07:26 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
People don't read what KI have actually written.
Yeah, I get that too, apparently.
Old 11-25-2012, 12:59 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: The Mitt
Posts: 14,209
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
I once read an account of someone who was immune to arrows. It was in a book called "Dungeons and Dragons."
Great historical document.

As far as iocane powder, not for a Sicilian... I don't feel so g
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:35 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: sopranos richie tukes hat college growth spurt tape leader jessica lynch raped bullet blanks define geometric growth own office civilian medals neener neener neener gay porn archive lost keys to mailbox how to get rid of a car with no title how to eat naan bread what is a tilde key why is new york so popular trade car for motorcycle cities with san in the name holding cigarette between middle and ring finger taking too much benadryl were nunchucks used in combat verified by visa g2a how to delete blank pages in google docs