Oenanthe. Oenanthe crocata.

Botanical name: 

Synonym—Water Dropwort.

An acrid emetic principle (resin), essential oil.
Specific Oenanthe. Dose, one-twentieth to one-half minim.

Administration—The profound influence of this agent upon the nerve centers is quickly observed. It must be given in minute doses. Five drops of the specific medicine in three, four or even six ounces of water will be found sufficient. Fluid extracts or ordinary tinctures are not to be prescribed, because of uncertain strength.

Physiological ActionOenanthe crocata is extremely poisonous, and from its resemblance to common garden parsley has frequently caused death in men and animals. Toxic doses cause burning heat in the throat and stomach, with disturbance of intellect, cardialgia, nausea, vertigo, violent convulsions, furious delirium, or profound sleep; loss of sight, hearing and speech; rolling of the eye-balls upward, feeble pulse, abolition of sensation and of motive power, with increasing intellectual dullness. There are universal chills, rose-colored spots on face, breast and arms; lividity and swelling of the face, with trismus and bloody froth from mouth and nostrils, stertorous breathing, coma, death.

Autopsies performed on patients dead from the accidental use of this agent have shown an engorgement of the blood vessels of the brain and cord. There was effusion of blood and bloody serum in the occipital foramen. The sinuses of the dura mater and the veins of the pia mater also were distended with blood, as were also the sinuses of the vertebrae. There were apoplectic foci in the cerebral mass. There was serous effusion in the cellular tissue beneath the arachnoid, in the ventricles and at the base of the brain.

Therapy—The agent acquired a reputation in the treatment of epilepsy. It has cured a few violent cases and very many cases of petit mal. Fisk reported five cases cured, and other trustworthy investigators have had similar results. It is indicated in those cases which, instead of fullness of the capillary vessels of the brain and spinal cord, there is anemia of these organs more or less marked. This distinction was made by Henning, and is an important one.

It has proved of value in cases where epilepsy has resulted from injury, in cases where there is an impairment of the brain structure and imperfect cerebral circulation with impairment of the nutrition of the brain.

It has not increased in reputation, nor has our knowledge of its action increased greatly during the past fifteen years. It deserves a closer investigation.

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.