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Back in early America, the slaves who worked the plantations held cotton in very high prestige. To them, it was a source of signs,conjuring and folk medicene. This was based on the belief that the plants themselves held spirits of the dead.
When the plants were still green, spirits haunted the plants,but, when the crop ripened the spirits emerged to haunt people and animals. Continuing even after the gleaning of the fields.
For example,a story goes that one cold December night after a heavy snowstorm some horses were in a cotton field when the ghosts of long dead indians came and mounted them. The very next morning the horses were all found dead;they had been ridden to death. This tale may reflect real life observation for cotton contains a poison from which many an animal has died, gasping, a bloody froth at the mouth, as if it were 'run' to death.
The poison, a yellow pigment called gossypol, is present especially in the seed and sometimes in toxic quanities in processed cottonseed used in livestock feeds. This same poison used in lesser quanities was used as a medicine.
Cotton was chewed for a toothache remedy and a preperation made from it was applied locally to treat headaches- a use still practiced today in India, cotton's original homeland, from whence the plant was then introduced to Africa in antiquty,long before Europeans had ever seen or heard of it.

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