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The second death from Romeo & Juliet is that of Romeo, who drinks a fatal dose of poison he bought from an apothecary after learning of Juliet’s ‘death’. The poison is not named by Shakespeare, but is now thought to be aconite, otherwise known as “wolfsbane” or “monkshood”. Aconite species contain several poisonous chemicals, the most deadly of which is aconitine. Aconitine can kill by dramatically slowing down the heart, leading to cardiac arrest. Aconite has been used in fiction (and for real) since classical times and its association with goddesses and magic continues to this day in the Harry Potter books. Aconite is still an ingredient in Traditional Chinese and Hindu medicines, and so accidental poisonings are most commonly seen by forensic toxicologists in Asia.

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