Water Hemlock

Cicuta virosa

The homeopathic remedy cicuta is prepared from the freshly expressed juice of the plant called water hemlock. Cicuta belongs to a small genus comprising four species of extremely toxic plants in the Apiaceae family.

Cicuta, including all species belonging to the Apiaceae are permanent herbaceous plants that usually grow up to a height of 2.5 meters (8.3 feet) and possess characteristic green or white flowers that are small and arranged in the shape of an umbrella (called umbel). As aforementioned, Cicuta is generally known as the water hemlock. Moreover, plants belonging to this genus may also be denoted as cowbane or poison parsnip.

The toxic herb water hemlock is indigenous to the temperate climatic regions in the Northern Hemisphere, especially Europe and North America. This plant is usually found growing in the humid meadows, along the banks of streams and other humid and marshy regions.

These plants have a close resemblance to other members of the Apiaceae family and may often be mistaken with other plants - both edible as well as toxic. The common name of the plant water hemlock may also puzzle people who may think it to be poison hemlock (scientific name Conium maculatum).

Water hemlock is believed to be among the most toxic plants found in North America and it is extremely poisonous for the humans. Three species of the genus enclose a toxic substance called cicutoxin that brings about stimulatory effects in the central nervous system. Such stimulatory effects may include seizures following ingestion.

The poisoning by water hemlock may be treated medically by using activated charcoal to reduce gastrointestinal absorption of the toxic principle together with supportive care, which includes administering anticonvulsant medications, such as a benzodiazepine. In fact, generally very high doses of anticonvulsant medicines are needed to stop the seizure activity.

Additionally, the patient may also require further medical care, such as intubation and mechanical ventilation.

This herb is occasionally used by practitioners of conventional medicine to heal gout. The fresh root of water hemlock plant is highly poisonous and results in symptoms which are similar to those caused by strychnine poisoning, accompanied by spasms, too much salivation, perspiration as well as hyperventilation.

Although the water hemlock plant may appear to be attractive along with its petite while blossoms, in reality it is an extremely poisonous herb. If taken internally, the poison enclosed by the Cicuta virosa plant has the potential to kill a human or a livestock animal within a brief span of time. Despite the fact that the plant is extremely toxic and harmful for humans, practitioners of homeopathic medicine have used it to cure an assortment of ailments, including meningitis, epilepsy and tetanus.

When you cut the roots or the stems of the Cicuta or water hemlock plant, it oozes a yellowish, oily resin or gum. This resin has a somewhat pungent smell and encloses the poisonous substance called cicutoxin - an antagonist of toxic gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor. Cicutoxin or the poisonous substance is most lethal when it is fresh and it is known to lose much of its toxicity when it is dehydrated or dried.

The extremely poisonous substance cicutoxin present in the resin of the Cicuta plant actually disturbs the central nervous system. In the event of an adult consuming the root of Cicuta plant, he/ she will experience nausea and an excruciating pain in the abdominal region in just an hour's time.

Subsequently, the individual may also experience convulsions/ spasms, tremors, delirium and/ or seizures. The poison has the potential to cause respiratory paralysis and eventually result in death. As the body is affected by the poison so rapidly, many people are unable to receive timely medical attention and this makes matters worse.

One of the common reasons why may people consume Cicuta is because they confuse it for a different plant. Since the smell of Cicuta virosa has a resemblance to that of wild parsnips, there have been several reports that people have consumed the roots of this poisonous plant believing it to be a parsnip.

Besides this, there have also been reports that people have been poisoned by Cicuta virosa indirectly. In this case, people consuming migratory birds who have consumed Cicuta virosa have been affected by the poison of the plant. It is unfortunate that in either of the instances, people who did not receive timely medical care succumbed to the poisoning.

When an individual is poisoned by water hemlock, it is possible that they may survive provided they are given timely medical care. In such cases, emergency healthcare professions will generally try to keep the airways clear and maintain ventilation.

In fact, thus far scientists have not been successful in identifying an effective anti-toxin for Cicuta virosa and, hence, medical professionals are likely to recommend drugs to cleanse the stomach and intestines of the ingested poison. In addition, some patients may also be administered additional drugs to cease convulsions, seizures and tremors.

While majority of the people would find it difficult to believe that a plant which encloses such extreme toxic substances is used to prepare a homeopathic remedy, the fact remains that the homeopathic medicine Cicuta prepared from the freshly expressed juice of the water hemlock plant is used to treat the above mentioned symptoms. In the earlier times, this herb was particularly used to cure meningitis and epilepsy.

A number of practitioners of homeopathic medicine presently use a watered down amount of the Cicuta virosa root extract to heal tetanus and different ailments that result in spasms. These homeopathic practitioners are of the view that it is possible to dilute the resin obtained from the roots of the Cicuta virosa plant. They claim that when the resin of this plant is diluted to the desired degree, it does not remain harmful for human use any more.

In homeopathy, a number of remedies are available to treat epilepsy, catalepsy or convulsions and each of them are used following the law of similia - one of the cardinal principles of homoeopathy which means that 'like cures like'. The homeopathic remedy cicuta is effectively used to treat all the above mentioned conditions.

Cicuta patients generally have a sensation of an aura in the stomach and convulsions appear after this feeling. The attack always begins in the center and spreads to the periphery denoting that the attacks first begin in the head, face and the chest and then travels to the extremities.

Although cuprum met. patients too have similar symptoms, but they start in an opposite fashion - in this case the attack begins from the fingers or any extremity and then travels to the chest and the head. Following an attack, the Cicuta patients remain in a state of bewilderment. Precisely speaking, they generally fail to recognize themselves or the people they are with.

The condition of the patient is calm, docile and submissive between two attacks. Contrary to this, the Nux vom. patients are usually antagonistic as well as exasperated between two attacks. In effect, the Nux mosch. patient experiences a strange symptom - he/ she forgets between the works what he/ she is doing. This strange symptom is known as the abstraction of the mind. These patients actually become blank for a split second.

Parts used

The homeopathic remedy cicuta is prepared from the freshly expressed sap of the cicuta or water hemlock plant. The root's juice is collected when the plant is just beginning to blossom and blended with equal proportion of alcohol to prepare the medicine.


The homeopathic remedy cicuta is prescribed for treating trembling and sporadic jerks, particularly when the head is turned toward the back - for instance, in the case of meningitis, epilepsy, eclampsia and paralysis as well as for treating the repercussions of head injuries. Individuals who require this homeopathic medicine are likely to have a craving to consume inedible substances like chalk.

Cicuta is effective in healing any kind of ailment occurring following a head injury - irrespective of being physical or mental. In fact, use of this homeopathic medicine in such cases has been found to work wonders. The homeopathic remedy cicuta is also effective for treating skin eruptions or eczema on the beard or scalp.

This medicine is considered to be excellent for the barber's itch (inflammation of hair follicles). In addition, cicuta is also an excellent remedy for skin affections, pustules (a small rise of the skin containing pus) which accompany each other forming dense, yellow scab or coating on the face, head and other parts of the body.

People enduring epileptic seizures that are distinguished by abrupt, violent jerking of the body respond well to the homeopathic remedy cicuta. In fact, in homeopathy, cicuta is the best medicine for such conditions. Treatment with cicuta works particularly well for people who have muscle spasms when they are touched. Other people who benefit from the use of cicuta are those who have symptoms, such as locked jaw, flushed face and frothing at the mouth during a convulsion.

The homeopathic remedy cicuta ought to be taken by individuals having tetanus and suffering from convulsions or body jerks that are usually followed by prostration. In addition, people who have their body bent backwards and muscles that become rigid as they tremble also benefit immensely from the use of the homeopathic remedy cicuta.


Cicuta or water hemlock, which forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy cicuta, is generally found growing in the ditches, wet meadows, marshes as well as beside the creak banks. This toxic plant is native to the temperate climatic regions, especially the north-western regions of North America, Japan, Central and Northern Europe.


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