Drug Use in the Viking Era

Believe it or not, there are people who can't wrap their heads around the use of non-medicinal drugs before the 20th century. But it was always so, from mind-expanding hallucinogens for religious rites to painkillers to escape the grinding stress of everyday life. And for some, mood-altering drugs could aid in warfare.

We all know that you stay away from someone who is in a drug-induced frenzy, because they may have lost all sense of self-preservation. That was the story of the berserkers, who were said to be immune to fire and weapons during battle. The more likely story is that they just didn't care, and that terrified their enemies into retreat or submission. It must have been the drugs.  

Nutty History goes through a whole bunch of drugs that were available during the Viking era, which all come with some contraindications for use in warfare. We don't know what they used- it could have easily been a combination. We also don't know how many casualties they had, in drug overdose or battle, in the quest for the formula they wanted. But when it worked, it gave the berserkers a reputation that long outlasted them. -via Boing Boing

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