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Water hemlock (Cicuta spp.)

Generic Name: Cicuta virosa

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Apiaceae (family), bulblet-bearing water hemlock, Cicuta, Cicuta bulbifera, Cicuta douglasii, Cicuta maculata, Cicuta virosa, cicutoxin, cowbane, fool's parsley, northern water hemlock, spotted water hemlock, water hemlock, western water hemlock.

Note: Several accidental poisonings have been reported due to confusion of water hemlock roots with turnip, parsnip, or wild carrot. Water hemlock (Cicuta spp.) should not be confused with poison hemlock (Conium spp.), although the species have similar common names and similar general appearance.

Background

Water hemlock grows in temperate wet, marshy areas in mainly North America. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), "water hemlock is the most violently toxic plant that grows in North America."

Water hemlock is sometimes mistaken for parsnips, due to the similar appearance of their white tuberous roots.

Although water hemlock was rarely used for headache according to traditional use, there is insufficient available evidence in humans or animals to support the use of water hemlock for any indication.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Headache.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

Avoid in all patients as water hemlock is highly toxic and may lead to death.

Children (younger than 18 years):

Avoid in all patients as water hemlock is highly toxic and may lead to death.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to water hemlock (Cicuta spp.) or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

Avoid water hemlock as it is highly toxic and may cause vomiting, acute renal (kidney) failure, marked metabolic acidosis (acidic blood), drowsiness, seizures and convulsions, or unconsciousness that may lead to death.

Taking water hemlock by mouth may cause an explosive illness with orthostatic hypotension (decreased blood pressure upon standing) or tachycardia (increased heartbeat). It may also cause dilated pupils, discoloration of the skin due a lack of oxygen in the blood, and a breakdown of skeletal muscle due to injury.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding as water hemlock is highly toxic and may lead to death.

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