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Poison Hemlock

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  • Botanical: Conium maculatum
  • Family: Apiaceae
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Poison Hemlock

Botanical

Conium maculatum

Family

Apiaceae

Known as

Conium chaerophylloides, Hemlock, Gefleckter Schierling,

Old Use

medical, industry

Parts Used

fruit, leaves, seed

Medicinal

asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs, cramps, dermatitis, epilepsy, muscle pain

Muscle & Joints

joint inflammation, joint pain, muscle cramps, muscle pain, spasm

Mind & Nerves

epilepsy, restlessness

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, colds, cough, difficulty breathing

Stomach & Intestinal

urinary infections

Skin & Hair

dermatitis

Properties

anticonvulsive, antibacterial, anti inflammatory

Description

It is a herbaceous biennial plant that grows between 1.5–2.5 metres (5–8 ft) tall, with a smooth green hollow stem, usually spotted or streaked with red or purple on the lower half of the stem. All parts of the plant are hairless (glabrous). The leaves are 2-4-pinnate, finely divided and lacy, overall triangular in shape, up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long and 40 centimetres (16 in) broad. The flowers are small, white, clustered in umbels up to 10–15 centimetres (4–6 in) across. When crushed, the leaves and root emit a rank, unpleasant odour often compared to that of parsnips. It produces a large number of seeds that allow the plant to form thick stands in modified soils.

Properties & Uses

hemlock leaves, root, and seeds are used to make medicine. It is used for breathing problems including bronchitis, whooping cough, and asthma; and for painful conditions including teething in children, swollen and painful joints, and cramps. Hemlock is also used for anxiety and mania. Other uses include treatment of spasms tumors, skin infections, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Sydenham’s chorea, and bladder infections. Hemlock has also been used to reverse strychnine poisoning.

Cautions

All parts of hemlock, including seeds, flowers, and fruits, are unsafe. Hemlock is so poisonous it can cause death. If someone takes hemlock, he or she should get immediate medical attention. Side effects and toxicities include increased saliva, burning of the digestive tract, drowsiness, muscle pain, rapid swelling and stiffening of muscles, kidney damage, rapid breakdown of muscle tissue and release of muscle tissue byproducts into the blood, rapid heart rate followed by a decreased heart rate, loss of speech, paralysis, unconsciousness, heart, lung, and kidney failure, and death.

Children:

Use of hemlock is UNSAFE and can be fatal, especially in children. Children can be poisoned by even small amounts of hemlock. Some children have died after eating leaves or using hollow hemlock stems as peashooters, flutes, or whistles. Hemlock should not be used for treating pain in children due to teething. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Use of hemlock is UNSAFE and can be fatal.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.