One thing you don’t generally expect at a homoeopathy conference is for any of the “medicines” to have drastic side effects.
So when 29 delegates at an alternative medicine seminar in Germanystarted staggering around the site, suffering from violent convulsions, delusions and hallucinations, police suspected foul play.
It now appears that what the intoxicated delegates had taken was not homoeopathic medicine, but instead a dangerous psychedelic drug.
Tests indicate they had all taken 2C-E, or Aquarust, an amphetamine that was banned in Germany in 2014.
The German press are already describing the incident as the “collective trip of Handeloh”, the small town outside Hamburg where it took place.
Police say they are investigating to find out whether the delegates knowingly took the banned drug, or were the victims of a macabre prank.
When an ambulance was called to the conference last Friday, paramedics found delegates staggering around, talking incoherently and suffering from hallucinations.
Others were curled up on the ground with severe cramps. The paramedics were so concerned they called for support, and a staggering 160 emergency workers converged on the site, including helicopter teams.
“There must have been a multiple overdose,” Torsten Passie, a member of a German government commission on narcotics, told NDR television.
“That argues against the people being aware what they were taking.”
The drug “heightens the emotional experience”, Mr Passie said. “An overdose can cause delusions and psychosis-like symptoms.”
Those affected included doctors, as well as homeopaths and alternative medicine practitioners, according to reports.
The owner of the seminar centre distanced her team from the incident.
“We didn’t have anything to do with it,” Stekfa Weiland said.
The leading German alternative medicine association disowned the conference.
“I dissociate myself quite strongly from what happened at Handeloh,” Heinz Kropmanns, president of the Association of German Naturopaths, told NDR.
“If I find out one of our members has participated, he will be thrown out of the association.”
Police said any possible prosecution would depend on the result of investigations into whether the delegates had knowingly taken the drug.