HEMLOCK

OTHER NAME(S):

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.

Overview

Overview Information

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 animals that had eaten hemlock parts.

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 along streams or rivers, and near fences, roadsides, ditches, abandoned construction sites, pastures, crops, and fields. Some people have been poisoned by hemlock after confusing it for harmless plants. Accidental poisonings have occurred when people mistook the plant for parsnip, parsley, wild celery, or anise.

Despite serious safety concerns, hemlock is used for bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, arthritis, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

Hemlock contains poisons that affect the transmission of nerve impulses to muscle. This can cause serious adverse effects, including death.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

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

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: All parts of hemlock, including the 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, kidney damage, rapid breakdown of muscle tissue, rapid heart rate followed by a decreased heart rate, loss of speech, paralysis, unconsciousness, kidney failure, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It is UNSAFE for anyone to use hemlock, but hemlock is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Use of hemlock is UNSAFE and can be fatal.

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.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for HEMLOCK Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The appropriate dose of 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 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

REFERENCES:

  • Biberci, E., Altuntas, Y., Cobanoglu, A., and Alpinar, A. Acute respiratory arrest following hemlock (Conium maculatum) intoxication. J.Toxicol.Clin.Toxicol. 2002;40(4):517-518. View abstract.
  • Foster, P. F., McFadden, R., Trevino, R., Galliardt, S., Kopczewski, L. A., Gugliuzza, K., Gonzalez, Z., and Wright, F. Successful transplantation of donor organs from a hemlock poisoning victim. Transplantation 9-15-2003;76(5):874-876. View abstract.
  • Montemurro, N. E., Di Maggio, A., Strippoli, P., Coviello, F., Godino, F., Miloro, G., and Scatizzi, A. Combined dialysis and plasma-exchange in acute renal failure. Biomater.Artif.Cells Immobilization Biotechnol. 1993;21(2):283-287. View abstract.
  • Reynolds, T. Hemlock alkaloids from Socrates to poison aloes. Phytochemistry 2005;66(12):1399-1406. View abstract.
  • Rizzi, D., Basile, C., Di Maggio, A., Sebastio, A., Introna, F., Jr., Rizzi, R., Bruno, S., Scatizzi, A., and De Marco, S. Rhabdomyolysis and acute tubular necrosis in coniine (hemlock) poisoning. Lancet 12-16-1989;2(8677):1461-1462. View abstract.
  • 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.
  • Rizzi, D., Introna, F., Jr., Gagliano, Candela R., Di Nunno, C., Ricco, R., Recchia, R., and De, Michele, V. [Toxic rhabdomyolysis and tubular necrosis in hemlock poisoning. 4 case reports]. Clin.Ter. 2-15-1988;124(3):193-201. View abstract.
  • Scatizzi, A., Di Maggio, A., Rizzi, D., Sebastio, A. M., and Basile, C. Acute renal failure due to tubular necrosis caused by wildfowl-mediated hemlock poisoning. Ren Fail. 1993;15(1):93-96. View abstract.
  • Schweppe, K. W. and Probst, C. [The attempts at drug therapy of cancer by Anton Storck (1731-1803). History of experimental pharmacology in the old Vienna Medical School]. Wien.Med Wochenschr. 3-15-1982;132(5):107-117. View abstract.
  • Vetter, J. Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum L.). Food Chem.Toxicol. 2004;42(9):1373-1382. View abstract.
  • Brtalik D, Stopyra J, Hannum J. Intravenous poison hemlock injection resulting in prolonged respiratory failure and encephalopathy. J Med Toxicol. 2017;13(2):180-182. View abstract.
  • Carod-Artal FJ. [Neurological syndromes linked with the intake of plants and fungi containing a toxic component (I). Neurotoxic syndromes caused by the ingestion of plants, seeds and fruits]. Rev Neurol 2003;36:860-71. View abstract.
  • Chen HY, Horng H, Rowley F, Smollin C. Rapid respiratory arrest after ingestion of poison hemlock mistaken for wild celery. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2017;55(2):155-156. View abstract.
  • Drummer OH, Roberts AN, Bedford PJ, et al. Three deaths from hemlock poisoning. Med J Aust 1995;162:592-3.
  • Frank BS, Panter KE. Ingestion of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). West J Med 1995;163:573-4.
  • Hove KD, Brøns C, Færch K, Lund SS, Rossing P, Vaag A. Effects of 12 weeks of treatment with fermented milk on blood pressure, glucose metabolism and markers of cardiovascular risk in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2015;172(1):11-20. View abstract.
  • Konca C, Kahramaner Z, Bosnak M, Kocamaz H. Hemlock (Conium Maculatum) poisoning in a child. Turk J Emerg Med. 2016;14(1):34-6. View abstract.
  • Krenzelok EP, Jacobsen TD, Aronis JM. Hemlock ingestions: the most deadly plant exposures. NACCT Abstracts 1996: Abstract #131.
  • Lopez TA, Cid MS, Bianchini ML. Biochemistry of hemlock (Conium maculatum L.) alkaloids and their acute and chronic toxicity in livestock. A review. Toxicon 1999;37:841-65. View abstract.
  • Panter KE, Keeler RF, Baker DC. Toxicosis in livestock from the hemlocks (Conium and Cicuta spp.). J Anim Sci 1988;66:2407-13. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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