The Wolfman – Is It the Moon or Just Rye Bread?

It’s midnight. The forest is pitch black except for those spaces between the trees that the moon light cuts like a laser beam across the forest floor. The transformation is hideous, beautiful, alarming and sexy at the same time. What is this howling creature capable of? Should I run or just give into the unexplainable animal magnetism of this hero/predator? Or should our Wolfman have just avoided eating rye bread for dinner a few hours earlier?

The moon holds a magical and mystical place in the history of human culture, so it’s no wonder that many myths – from werewolves to induced lunacy to epileptic seizures surround its cycles.

What does the Science Say?

Reliable studies examining the phases of the moon to births, heart attacks, deaths, suicides, violence, psychiatric hospital admissions and epileptic seizures, among other things, have over and over again found little or no connection. Modern studies may not be able to prove a full-moon effect, but it can help to disprove it. Take the case of lycanthropy, the delusional belief a patient has that he or she has been turned into an animal, usually a werewolf because of the lunar phases, and a common theme in the classic horror movie with Lon Chaney.

But the latest theory is interesting and probably more plausible. Scientists believe that the rye bread eaten by the poor at the time was probably contaminated with the fungus ergot, which caused the delusions. Because there is not much “box-office” associated with rye bread, I think we can remain confident that this will not be a major theme in The Wolfman movie premiering this weekend with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

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