WATER HEMLOCK OF NORTHERN EUROPE-WATER PARSNIP-COWBANE.
(Cicuta, hemlock.(Cent. Dict.), Millspaugh says: “The ancient Latin name, in reference to the hollow stems of this genus, the name Cicuta designating the hollow joints of reeds from which pipes were made.” Virosa-virosus, poisonous or emitting a fetid odor.)
The common names given to this European plant have been the source of much confusion. The American water hemlock, Cicuta maculata, one of the most poisonous plants in the United States, and similar but probably different from its European name sake, is one of our infrequently-used remedies. The Oregon water hemlock, Cicuta vagans, is also poisonous, but is not incorporated into our materia medica. The OEnanthe crocata of Western Europe, one of our remedies, is also spoken of as the water hemlock and has been mistaken for the parsnip. The true water hemlock, because it grows in the water while Cicuta vir. grows on the banks of ponds and streams, is Phellandrium aquaticum, a remedy of great value in the last stage of phthisis, with very offensive expectoration.
Many of the older writers have confounded Cicuta vir. with Conium maculatum.
Hahnemann who first proved Cicuta, was assisted by his son and two other provers. He says that the symptoms that he presents “can only be regarded as a commencement of a thorough proving of the peculiar effects of this powerful plant in altering the human health” (Mat. Medorrhinum Pura).
Many of his symptoms, and almost all of the pathogenetic ones that have been added since, are from cases of poisoning where the root has been mistaken for parsnip, and in Allen’s Encyclop. there is one case recorded where seven children ate the root. The mistake in thinking this root a parsnip has resulted in death in several instances.
It is quite likely that you will give Cicuta to the first child that you are unfortunate enough to see in a convulsion, for it is usually the first remedy to come one’s mind, as in the majority of cases where it is prescribed there will be a convulsions or at least a spasm.
The convulsions for which we give the remedy are from various causes, among which are injuries concussion of the brain, epilepsy (66), worms (36), indigestion (36), during and after labor (155) and from opium, for which it is more or less of an antidote.
They are chorea-like, epileptiform, tonic and tetanic, with insensibility, staring eyes, and jerking of the eye balls, muscles of the face and even of the face and even of the whole body, with the face congested, hot and sweaty; or with the convulsions we have violent opisthotonos, tetanic rigidity of the whole body, eyes fixed at one point, jaws locked, frothing at the mouth and spasmodic breathing; a distressing picture whichever form presents itself.
The spasms may be precipitated or renewed by touch, noise or jar, and are always followed by great exhaustion. When due to indigestion or gastralgia, the convulsions may be preceded by vertigo and muscular twitchings, or by sudden violent shocks of pain through the head and whole body, accompanied by jerkings.
In the delirium calling for this remedy, there is either a happy, child-like state, with singing, dancing and playing with toys; a quiet delirium, with great mistrust towards everyone; or great agitation and violence, with red and sweaty face, weeping and howling.
Cicuta has not only proved useful for the effects of concussion of the brain and spine, but also for basilar or tubercular meningitis (133) and cerebro-spinal meningitis (133), and many cases of the latter have been cured by this remedy.
It has proved beneficial in commencing strabismus in children, especially if periodic and spasmodic, as well as for strabismus caused by convulsions or “occurring after a fall or a blow” (Hering). During a convulsion the pupils are usually dilated (76).
In the ears we find haemorrhages due to cerebral troubles, complete deafness, with cerebro-spinal meningitis, and deafness in old people, with sudden loud reports in ears, especially on swallowing (64).
With the convulsions calling for this remedy we frequently notice loud hiccough (116), with spasm of the pectoral muscles and great difficulty in breathing.
Cicuta has proved of value in spasmodic constriction of the oesophagus from worms (208) or for constriction after injuries to the oesophagus, with inability to swallow and strangling on attempting it.
In the heart we have either a trembling palpitation (109) or a sensation as if it had stopped beating (113).
The menses are apt to be delayed and associated with spasmodic affections, and it has been used with success for neuralgia of the coccyx worse during menstruation.
The Cicuta child or young girl may have great appetite or indifference to food, or an unnatural appetite with longing for coal and eating it (9).
The skin lesions calling for this remedy are situated especially on the head and face and found particularly in neurotic children. We find suppurating eruptions and pustules about the size of a pea, which tend to coalesce and form thick yellow crusts. These crusts, which from on the scalp, face and corners of the mouth, become loose and “fatty” (66). There is some itching and burning, with aggravation on touch.
I use Cicuta 3d.