May 5, 2016

Hemlock

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What other names is Hemlock known by?

California Fern, Carrot Weed, Cicuta, Ciguë, Ciguë d'Athènes, Ciguë Officinale, Ciguë de Socrate, Ciguë Tachetée, Conium, Conium Maculata, Conium maculatum, Grande Ciguë, Mort aux Oies, Nebraska Fern, Poison Fool's Parsley, Poison-Hemlock, Spotted Hemlock, Tsuga, Vicaire, Wild Carrot.

What is Hemlock?

Hemlock is a very poisonous plant. In fact, all parts of the plant are toxic. Hemlock is most poisonous during the early stages of growth in the spring, but it is dangerous at all stages of growth. The poisons in hemlock are so deadly that people have died after eating game birds that had eaten hemlock seeds.

Hemlock is native to Europe and western Asia and was introduced into North America as an ornamental plant. It is frequently found in the US and southern Canada. Hemlock typically grows near fences, roadsides, ditches, abandoned construction sites, pastures, crops, and fields, where it can be confused with harmless plants. Accidental poisonings have occurred when people mistook the root for parsnip, leaves for parsley, or seeds for anise.

Despite serious safety concerns, 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.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Anxiety.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Teething in children.
  • Cramps.
  • Mania.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Asthma.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of hemlock for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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