SPOTTED HEMLOCK-POISON HEMLOCK. (Conium-kwvelov, koneion, hemlock; Maculatum-macula, spot, stain.).
Conium is indigenous to Europe and Asia. It, however, has become thoroughly naturalized in this country, where it grows in waste places, usually by river-sides, to a height of from two to six feet. The entire fresh plant, root excepted, is used to prepare our tincture.
While this fetid, poisonous herb was first proved for out school by Hahnemann, its use as a poison dates back to about the fifth century B.C. It is now conceded that Conium was the Grecian State portion used at Athens as a means of executing certain prisoners, and the Socrates (d. 399 B. C.) was put to death by a drink from this plant. Conium, physiologically, produces paralysis, first of voluntary motion, then of respiration, and we read that Socrates was told that all he had to do after drinking the poison was to walk about until a heaviness took place in his legs and then lie down. Conium would do the rest.
The first use of this plant as a medicine dates back to one hundred years before the Christian era, when it was used as a poultice in erysipelas. Pliny (d. 79 A.D.) says that Conium leaves keep down all tumors. In the first century it was claimed that by anointing the breasts with Conium they ceased to grow and several hundred years later a celebrated Arabian physician (and Hahnemann acknowledges many an idea from the Arabs) praised it as an agent for the cure of tumors of the breast.
In 1760 Baron Storck introduced Conium into more general use for the cure of cancer; but because of the failure to individualize the cases it fell into disrepute, and on account of the massive doses used, Hahnemann says that he was “prevented from recognizing sooner in Conium one of the most important antipsoric medicines” (Chr. Dis.).
Since Conium has been proved we are no longer working in the dark and know in that class of cases it will prove serviceable, and as regards tumors and indurated glands (82) the stony hardness and knife-like pains are our prominent indications.
It is of value for scrofulous constitutions, for the bad effects following sexual excesses (167), for weakness following exhausting disease (156), for paralysis after diphtheria (62) and fro general physical and mental debility (155), and tremulous weakness (192), with sudden attacks of faintness with vertigo. It is a remedy that is more frequently indicated for old people (147) than for the young,
There is a general weakness in Conium, perhaps senile dementia (166), a forgetfulness, especially of dates, inability to get his mind fixed on his business and a tired, weary sensation in brain and body on every attempt to concentrate his thoughts (93).
It is of value in melancholia; the patient is quiet and sad, picks his nose, which bleeds easily and becomes sore, or he picks his fingers until they bleed. It is to be thought of for melancholia in those who suffer from ungratified sexual desire, as well as for hypochondriasis resulting from excessive gratification (168). There is depression of spirits preceding menstruation and melancholia resulting from suppression of the menses (135), with aversion even to the members of her own family. Here we find the mental condition of aversion to people (131), yet dislike of being alone.
Vertigo is a common accompaniment of the Conium condition and may be due to cerebral anaemia (90). The vertigo is especially worse from motion, even slight motion, such as sitting up in (207) or turning over in bed and there is in addition, easy intoxication from the smallest quantity of alcoholic stimulant. It is to be thought of for vertigo due to the excessive use of tobacco and for that found in old people. With the vertigo there may be a feeling of extreme sensitiveness of the brain (91), with a sensation of a hard lump there, or a numbness (91) or coldness inside the head or on one side.