Hogwarts Promotes Drugs
Just thought I'd get you attention with that title. I was looking in my dictionary for a word (as you do), and I came across 'mandrake'. My brain instantly linked into Potterdom. Mandrake is grown by Madame Sprout, all the second year students learn how to harvest it, and it ultimately is used to cure those who have been petrified.
So imagine my surprise when I learnt that mandrake is actually a narcotic herb! Just to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting I also checked narcotic. This shocked me a little, I've never thought twice about the compounds frequently referred to in magic potions and other uses like spells. So if the mandrake is a narcotic herb should it be featured in a children's book?
The facts about the mandrake Rowling mentions are based in fact. The roots are forked and can look like a human, because of that, it was said to scream when you pull it out of the earth. Medicinally, the only part of the mandrake that won't kill you is the ripe fruit.
What confused me was how would a sleep-inducing plant cure petrification, which, in essence, is a state of induced sleep (with a touch of Medusa-esque statue work)?
Perhaps I'm reading too far into this, but it's made me think about what else I've been taking for granted.