Veratrum poisoning is heralded by the sudden onset of epigastric and substernal pain, which may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, followed by bradycardia and hypotension with severe muscular weakness.
After evaluating a wide variety of potential poisons, the paper's authors concluded that the white hellebore idea was the most plausible theories involving poison, given that the leader's alleged symptoms matched the kind the plant would have produced, Schep told The Huffington Post in an email.
"Exposure to extracts from this plant causes clinical effects similar to [Alexander's] reported signs and symptoms," he told HuffPost. "Of note was the duration of symptoms, which could continue for more than 12 days if intoxicated patients are not treated."
As to how the wine may have been administered, Schep told HuffPost that the "medicinal properties" of Veratrum album were well known at the time. Therefore, "someone with such knowledge, who was able to obtain the plant extract, and had access" to Alexander or his chalice could have poisoned him. Schep singled out Alexander's cup bearer as a possible suspect in such a scenario.
Schep was first asked to participate in the investigation into Alexander's death ahead of a BBC documentary on the subject back in 2003, the New Zealand Herald reports.
"They asked me to look into it for them and I said, 'Oh yeah, I'll give it a go, I like a challenge' - thinking I wasn't going to find anything," Schep said, per the outlet. "And to my utter surprise, and their surprise, we found something that could fit the bill."
Of course, poisoning is not the only theory surrounding Alexander's death. Researchers have offered up many different hypotheses, ranging from a deadly bacterium
found in the River Styx to typhoid fever
to excessive drinking.
But all of these theories are missing a key piece of evidence: Alexander's remains.