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Hemlock


Hemlock Conium maculatum.

Common name: Herb bennet, spotted conebane, musquash root, beaver poison, poison hemlock, poison parsley, spotted hemlock, vex, vecksies.

Occurrence:

common in hedges, meadows, waste ground and stream banks throughout Europe and also found in temperate Asia and north Africa.

Parts used:

the leaves, fruits and seeds. The most important constituent of hemlock leaves is the alkaloid coniine, which is poisonous, with a disagreeable odor. Other alkaloids in the plant include methy1- coniine, conhydrine, pseudoconhydrine, ethyl piperidine.

Medicinal uses:

sedative, antispasmodic, anodyne. The drug acts on the centers of motion and causes paralysis and so it is used to remedy nervous motor excitability, e.g. teething, cramp and muscle spasms of the larynx and gullet.

When inhaled, hemlock is said to be good in relieving coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. The method of action of Conium means it is directly antagonistic to the effects of strychnine, from nux vomica (Strychnos nux-vomica), and it is used as an antidote to strychnine poisoning and similar poisons. Hemlock has to be administered with care as narcotic poisoning may result from internal application and overdoses induce paralysis, with loss of speech and depression of respiratory function leading to death. Antidotes to

hemlock poisoning are tannic acid, stimulants, e.g. coffee, mustard and castor oil.

Administered as:

powdered leaves, fluid extract, tincture, expressed juice of the leaves and solid extract.

 

Herbal Medicines
Herbal Remedies History
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Hemlock

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