Beaver Poison, Brook-Tongue, Carotte à Moreau, Children’s Bane, Cicuta, Cicuta bulbifera, Cicuta californica, Cicuta douglasii, Cicuta mackenzieana, Cicuta maculata, Cicuta occidentalis, Cicuta vagans, Cicuta virosa, Cicutaire Bulbifère, Cicutaire du Nord, Cigüe Aquatique, Ciguë des Marais, Ciguë Vénéneuse, Ciguë Vireuse, Cowbane, Death-of-Man, European Water Hemlock, False Parsley, Fever Root, Mockeel Root, Muskrat Weed, Musquash Root, Persil des Chats, Persil des Fous, Persil des Marais, Poison Parsnip, Sium douglasii, Snake Weed, Snakeroot, Spotted Cowbane, Spotted Hemlock, Spotted Parsley, Wasser-Schierling, Wild Carrot, Wild Dill, Wild Parsnip.


Overview Information

Water hemlock is considered to be the most poisonous plant growing in North America. All parts of the water hemlock are toxic and can cause death in as little as 15 minutes.

Water hemlock grows in marshy, swampy areas of meadows; and along banks of streams, pools, and rivers. Accidental poisonings usually occur when water hemlock is mistaken for edible plants such as artichokes, celery, sweet potatoes, sweet anise, or wild parsnip.

Even though water hemlock is extremely poisonous, it is used as a medicine for migraineheadaches, painful menstruation, and worms in the intestines.

Some people apply water hemlock directly to the skin for redness and swelling (inflammation).

How does it work?

Water hemlock contains ingredients that are poisonous and have many dangerous effects on the body.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of water hemlock for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Water hemlock is UNSAFE for anyone to take by mouth or apply to the skin. All plant parts are poisonous and can cause death in as little as 15 minutes. Even applying water hemlock to your skin can cause death. Get immediate medical attention if you have taken water hemlock. The first symptoms of water hemlock poisoning are drooling, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, sweating, dizziness, stomach pain, flushing, weakness/tiredness (lethargy), delirium, and uncontrollable bowel movements. These are followed by more serious symptoms including trouble breathing, convulsions, heart problems, kidney failure, coma, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It is UNSAFE for anyone to use water hemlock, but some people have extra reasons to avoid use.

Children: Use of water hemlock is UNSAFE and can be fatal, especially in children. Children can be poisoned by even small amounts of water hemlock. Some children have died after just using hollow water hemlock stems as peashooters, flutes, or whistles; or rubbing the plant on their skin.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Use of water hemlock is UNSAFE and can be fatal for both the mother and her unborn child.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Lithium interacts with WATER HEMLOCK

    Water hemlock might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking water hemlock might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



The appropriate dose of water hemlock depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for water hemlock. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Rizzi, D., Basile, C., Di Maggio, A., Sebastio, A., Introna, F., Jr., Rizzi, R., Scatizzi, A., De Marco, S., and Smialek, J. E. Clinical spectrum of accidental hemlock poisoning: neurotoxic manifestations, rhabdomyolysis and acute tubular necrosis. Nephrol.Dial.Transplant. 1991;6(12):939-943. View abstract.
  • Anon. Water hemlock poisoning - Maine, 1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1994;43:229-31. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00026056.htm.
  • Applefeld JJ, Caplan ES. A case of water hemlock poisoning. JACEP 1979;8:401-3. View abstract.
  • Baidala, P. G. and Rodina, N. P. [Positive results after acute poisoning by Cicuta virosa]. Klin.Med.(Mosk) 1966;44(5):146-148. View abstract.
  • Carlton BE, Tufts E, Girard DE. Water hemlock poisoning complicated by rhabdomyolysis and renal failure. Clin Toxicol 1979;14:87-92. View abstract.
  • Costanza DJ, Hoversten VW. Accidental ingestion of water hemlock. Report of two patients with acute and chronic effects. Calif Med 1973;119:78-82.
  • Costanza, D. J. and Hoversten, V. W. Accidental ingestion of water hemlock. Report of two patients with acute and chronic effects. Calif.Med. 1973;119(2):78-82. View abstract.
  • From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water hemlock poisoning--Maine, 1992. JAMA 5-18-1994;271(19):1475. View abstract.
  • Haupt, H. [Poisonous and less poisonous plants. Conium maculatum and Cicuta virosa]. Kinderkrankenschwester. 2003;22(11):495-496. View abstract.
  • Heath, K. B. A fatal case of apparent water hemlock poisoning. Vet.Hum.Toxicol. 2001;43(1):35-36. View abstract.
  • Knutsen OH, Paszkowski P. New aspects in the treatment of water hemlock poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1984;22:157-66. View abstract.
  • Koloshtivina, O. V. [Poisonings of children by water hemlock]. Med.Sestra. 1980;39(10):37-38. View abstract.
  • Kozielec, T. and Nowotarska, T. [Cicuta virosa poisoning in 6 children]. Pediatr.Pol. 1973;48(12):1519-1522. View abstract.
  • Landers D, Seppi K, Blauer W. Seizures and death on a white river float trip. Report of water hemlock poisoning. West J Med 1985;142:637-40.
  • Landers, D., Seppi, K., and Blauer, W. Seizures and death on a white river float trip. Report of water hemlock poisoning. West J.Med. 1985;142(5):637-640. View abstract.
  • Laskowski, S., Matyjek, J., Koppicz, M., and Pohorski, A. [Intoxication with Cicuta virosa]. Pol.Tyg.Lek. 3-24-1975;30(12):533-534. View abstract.
  • Lkhagvazhav, Kh, Biambasuren, Ch, and Maslov, A. V. [Group poisoning by water hemlock]. Sud.Med.Ekspert. 1980;23(3):51-52. View abstract.
  • Mack, R. B. Keats, Socrates and fool's parsley--water hemlock poisoning. N.C.Med.J. 1985;46(3):163-164. View abstract.
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  • Starreveld E, Hope E. Cicutoxin poisoning (water hemlock). Neurol 1975;25:730-4. View abstract.
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