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Cicuta virosa, and it is not that of Socrates, whose name is greater or Conium maculatum. The virosa, which we can also call aquatic, or if we want to make internationals, Water hemlock, is a plant of the same family but with different degree of poisonousness and different properties. It is good to present her by immediately premising that she suffers the fame of her bad sister. It is a plant from the family of Umbelliferae, misunderstandings with the major began as early as the Middle Ages, the virosa, however, unlike the other, it can also be considered a homeopathic remedy.
Cicuta virosa: plant
In popular jargon this plant is called the parsley of the idiots, and indeed it resembles it, so much so that the ignorant, in the pure sense of those who ignore, could mistake it for such. There hemlock virosa it grows near the marshes, the mother tincture is obtained from its root, but it must be sought with determination because it is a rarity.
It can be recognized, even compared to its bad sister, by the hollow cylindrical stem, not pruinose like that of the "other", and 0.50-1.50 m high. L'odor emanating is not pleasant, resembles that of celery and parsley, the leaves are large, have a long petiole and are divided into smaller leaves with a serrated profile.
The flowers are small and white, forming umbrellas and usually appear between June and July. The areas where we can find the hemlock virosa they are the submontane ones scattered throughout the peninsula, with an obvious preference for grassy and humid places, or near the sea.
Cicuta virosa: properties
With great caution you can use the hemlock virosa in the presence of some forms of epilepsy (therefore better consult your doctor), in cases of dermatosis without itching, mostly localized on the face, of eczema and impetigo.
As a homeopathic plant it can boast calming properties which are useful in many diseases.
It was recommended for neuralgia, tetanus. epilepsy, canine cough, asthma, convulsive cough and to calm the pain of cancer. Externally, in the form of poultices, compresses or ointments, we also find it applied by those suffering from fungal ulcerations, cervical adenitis, syphilitic ulcers.
It contains, like the greater hemlock, 5 different alkaloids: the contiina, conhydrin, pseudoconhydrin, methylconicin and conicein. Its leaves also contain hesperidin, carotin, an essential oil, potassium and magnesium, while the fruits acetic, malic, caffeic acid, starch, resins, peptic substances and an essential oil different from that of the leaves.
It also poisons the hemlock virosa but in a lighter way and in different ways. In the case of the virosa the poisoning begins with epileptoid and tetanic seizures and the toxicity of this plant remains somewhat doubtful, not yet well demonstrated.
As the medicinal properties of the hemlock, so are the toxic ones, already centuries ago it was used as narcotic, antispasmodic, anti-tetanus and anti-rabies. The Hippocrats used it both externally and internally, i Greeks they prepared the poison with the unripe fruit to administer to those condemned to death.
The most harmful component of this plant is the contiina, it is the most active alkaloid, especially in the major hemlock, and acts at the level of neuromuscular synapses. There hemlock it is toxic both for livestock and for us, there is no herbivore, even among the greediest and with a good mouth, that comes close to it. To get an idea of the power of hemlock as poison, for a horse 2 kilograms of leaves are lethal, for a cow, even if heavy, half a kilo is enough.
We have mentioned it so far, and even speaking badly about it, let's try to give it some dignity, at least historical. The greater hemlock, called Conium maculatum, and the hemlock of Socrates although in truth it was most likely a mix of poisons and not just the one obtained from this plant, to kill him.
Apart from a very bad smell, there are those who say that it is the same as the urine of mice - I am not an expert, fortunately - the greater hemlock it is a biennial plant with a branchy stem that reaches up to 2 m, often spotted with red, with large lower leaves and white flowers gathered in umbels. It grows in Europe, Asia and Northern Africa preferring cool and shady places, such as the spaces created among the ruins.
Poisoning leads to one paralysis which progressively reaches all the voluntary muscles, starting from the lower limbs: one dies of asphyxiation, when the respiratory muscles are paralyzed.
Cicuta: essential oil
Without emulating Socrates, whom we can cite without necessarily ending up with him, here we can use someessential oil of hemlock and fir both for skin care and for aroma therapy. Already mixed, in a 10 ml bottle, 100% pure and 5 auro.
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