Conium. Conium maculatum.

Botanical name: 

Synonyms—Poison Hemlock; Poison Parsley.

A volatile alkaloid Conine, Conhydrine, Methylcenine, Pseudo Conhydrine.


Extractum Conii, Extract of Conium. Dose, one-half grain.
Extractum Conii Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Conium. Dose, two to six minims.
Expressed juice of the fresh plant preserved with alcohol. Dose, three minims.
Specific Conium. Dose, one to five minims.

There is great variation in the quality of the different preparations of conium, and care must be exercised in selecting a good one.

Physiological Action—When given in a sufficient dose, conium causes complete relaxation of the whole muscular system; the eyes close, the movements of the eyeballs are sluggish, mastication and swallowing are difficult, speech is slow and maintained by an effort, the voice is hoarse, while the heart and intelligence are not disturbed. In a fatal dose, the lower limbs become paralyzed, the effect gradually ascending to the upper part of the body, intelligence being retained to the last.

Administration—If the characteristic odor of this substance is absent, the probabilities are that it is devoid of value, as it is the volatile principle which possesses the odor, and it is that upon which its value as a therapeutic agent depends to a great extent. Care must be taken in diluting fluid preparations as they are apt to precipitate. Fresh preparations only, diluted when administered, are reliable.

Specific Symptomatology—The agent relieves the pain of cancers and ulcers. In this it is of specific value. It is of much importance in ulceration of the stomach either acute or chronic, and in incipient gastric cancer. It will soothe the pain more efficiently than other apparently more powerful agents. It must be given in large doses; as much as fifteen minims of the fluid extract are sometimes needed. Large doses must be carefully watched. It relieves distress in the glandular organs and in glandular enlargements, when there is a sc!ro!fulous or cancerous cachexia, dull aching pains not usually acute, not sharp cutting pains. In the pain of cancer of the pelvic organs or of the mammae it gives relief, and, indeed, it gives relief to pain in the pelvic organs whatever the cause or character.

Therapy—The anodyne and antispasmodic soothing properties of the agent suggest its use in spasmodic affections and irregular muscular movenients—movements attended by extreme activity of the motor nerves. In paralysis agitans, in chorea and in hysteria, in delirium tremens and acute mania it is thus advised. Its use in trismus, laryngeal spasm, in irregular muscular twitchings and spasmodic wry neck, will be attended with excellent results. In profound spasm, as in convulsions, !ep!ilepsy and tetanus, while of some benefit, it is of no marked value and more potent agents are prescribed. In its adminis-tration, hypodermic injections of Hydrobromate of Conine are sometimes much more prompt and satisfactory in their action.

Conium is useful in many kinds of cough and inflammatory diseases of the chest. In whooping cough and in many other spasmodic coughs it is of much service. It is useful in asthma and the difficult breathing of emphysema. It may be used internally or the ointment may be applied over the chest.

It is valuable in laryngitis and in dry irritable bronchial coughs and in phthisis. In all such coughs the vapors inhaled from the fluid extract or juice dropped on the surface of hot water, in a rather close-mouthed vessel, is sometimes of marked benefit. In the pains of chronic hepatitis conium is excellent.

As an application to cancerous surfaces, poultices prepared from the leaves have given relief, and ointments carefully prepared which contain the juice or small quantities of conine, will be found of service. Lotions containing the juice or fluid extract will be found of use in open sores and persistent ulcerations.

In ovarian pain or pain from ulceration of the cervix uteri, or other persistent uterine pain or distress, a vaginal suppository containing a grain of conium may be inserted at night, or twice daily, if the patient be recumbent. Rectal fissures and painful ulcers may be treated with rectal suppositories. Pain from acute pelvic inflammation may be relieved by this method.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.