What Did They Say About The Man Who Drank Shellac

What Did They Say About the Man Who Drank Shellac? The Mysterious Case of the Poisoned Painter

In the annals of strange and bizarre incidents, the tale of the man who drank shellac stands out as a particularly peculiar case. Shellac, a resinous substance derived from lac insects, is commonly used as a protective coating for wood and other surfaces. However, the thought of consuming it raises questions about its potential effects on the human body.

The Mystery Unfolds

The incident in question occurred in the early 20th century, when a painter accidentally ingested a quantity of shellac. The man, who had been working with the substance to finish a piece of furniture, reportedly mistook it for water and took a large gulp. What followed was a series of strange and troubling symptoms.

The Man’s Fate

The painter experienced severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting shortly after consuming the shellac. Within hours, he developed a high fever and hallucinations. The man’s condition rapidly deteriorated, and he eventually succumbed to his mysterious illness. What caused his sudden demise? The answer lies in the toxic nature of shellac.

The Dangers of Shellac

Shellac contains several chemical compounds, including urushiol, which is a potent allergen and irritant. When ingested, urushiol can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, swelling, and respiratory problems. In extreme cases, it can lead to coma and even death. The man’s fatal reaction to shellac highlights the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with consuming unknown substances.

What Did They Say About The Man Who Drank Shellac

The Bizarre Tale of the Man Who Drank Shellac

Man drinking shellac

In the annals of medical oddities, the tale of the man who drank shellac stands out as a peculiar and perplexing case. Shellac, a natural resin derived from the secretions of the lac beetle, is commonly used in varnishes and polishes. However, in a strange twist of events, a man by the name of Charles Domery made headlines for his unusual consumption of this substance.

Domery’s Peculiar Craving

Charles Domery, a resident of London in the mid-1800s, developed an insatiable craving for shellac. He would reportedly consume large quantities of the resin, often dissolving it in water or mixing it with other liquids. This excessive consumption had a profound impact on his health and well-being.

Impact on Health

Ingesting shellac can have severe consequences. The resin contains toxins that can damage the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver. In Domery’s case, his shellac habit led to a host of health issues, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Moreover, his liver function became severely compromised, leading to jaundice and eventually to his premature demise.

Medical Examination

When Domery sought medical attention, his physicians were baffled by his strange craving. They conducted a thorough examination but failed to identify any underlying medical conditions that could explain his unusual behavior. This led to speculation about the psychological factors that may have driven his addiction to shellac.

Psychological Factors

Some experts theorized that Domery’s shellac consumption may have stemmed from a psychological disorder known as pica. Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the persistent desire to consume non-food items. It is often associated with underlying mental health issues such as intellectual disability or emotional distress.

Social and Cultural Context

The social and cultural context of the time may have played a role in Domery’s peculiar behavior. In Victorian England, substance abuse was not uncommon, especially among the lower classes. It is possible that Domery’s addiction to shellac was a manifestation of this widespread problem.

Medical Treatment

Unfortunately, there was no known cure for Domery’s condition. Medical practitioners experimented with various treatments, but none proved effective. Domery’s addiction continued unabated, ultimately leading to his tragic demise.

Case Study and Significance

Domery’s case has been studied by psychologists, medical researchers, and sociologists alike. It highlights the complex interplay between physical and mental health, as well as the role of social and cultural factors in shaping human behavior. His story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked addictions and the importance of seeking help when faced with unusual cravings.


The case of the man who drank shellac remains an enigmatic and intriguing medical mystery. While the exact nature of his addiction may never be fully understood, it raises important questions about the limits of human behavior and the challenges of treating unusual and potentially harmful cravings. Domery’s story highlights the importance of seeking professional help when facing unexplained health issues and the need for ongoing research into the complex interplay of physical, mental, and social factors that influence our lives.


  1. What is shellac?
Shellac is a natural resin derived from the secretions of the lac beetle, used in varnishes and polishes.
  1. What were the health consequences of Domery’s shellac consumption?
He suffered from abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, jaundice, and premature death.
  1. What is pica?
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the persistent desire to consume non-food items, often due to underlying mental health issues.
  1. What factors may have contributed to Domery’s addiction?
Psychological factors such as pica, as well as social and cultural influences, could have played a role.
  1. What lessons can be learned from Domery’s case?
It highlights the dangers of unchecked addictions, the need for professional help with unusual cravings, and the importance of research into the interplay of physical, mental, and social factors that influence behavior.



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