Ta, (quasi caecuta, blind, because it is said to destroy the sight of those who use it.) Hemlock; called by some camarum; by others abiotos; and, according to Erotian, cambeion is an old Sicilian word for cicuta.

Cicuta major fcetida. The conium maculatum Lin. Sp. Pi. 349. Spotted hemlock. It grows wild in almost every climate, and with us is found about the sides of the fields, under hedges, and in moist shady places. It is a tall umbelliferous plant, with large leaves, of a blackish green colour on the upper side, and a whitish green underneath, divided into a number of small oblong somewhat oval segments, which stand in pairs on middle ribs; these segments are again deeply-cut, but not quite divided on both sides; and many of these ultimate sections have one or two slighter indentations. They much resemble parsley or chervil, especially the leaves of the smallest sorts, whose poisonous quality is the most violent. The stalk is round, smooth, hollow, irregularly variegated with spots and streaks of a red or blackish purple colour; the flowers are white, and blow in June or July; the seeds greenish, flat on one side, very convex, and marked with five furrows on the other. The root is oblong, about the size of a middling parsnip, yellowish without, white and fungous within, and part of it hollow; it changes its form according to the season. The leaves have a rank smell, but do not much affect the taste.

Internally and externally it is narcotic and anodyne: it abates inflammations of the eyes; promotes rest, and eases pain, without producing thirst or headach the next morning, and as rarely creates costiveness; is supposed to possess a property of altering thin, corrosive cancerous ichor, and of rendering it mild. It hath been used with some advantage in sanious ulcers, cancers, gleets, painful discharges from the vagina, fixed pains supposed to arise from acrid serum, fluor albus, and scirrhous tubercles; but its efficacy is seldom permanent, and it injures the stomach, sometimes the constitution. Though it does not cure cancers, yet it is an anodyne more effectual than opium; and in phthisis is often useful for relieving pain and cough. It is useful in syphilis, according to Mr. John Hunter.

Dr. Cullen observes, that if hemlock, either in form of powder or extract, has no sensible effect when taken to twenty grains for a dose, the medicine may be supposed to be imperfect, and that if it is to be continued, another parcel of it should be employed. He adds, that he has known it useful in resolving and discussing scirrhosities of different kinds, particularly those of a scrofulous nature; in healing the ulcers of scirrhous tumours, which continued to be surrounded with such scirrhosity; and in some ulcers certainly that approached to the nature of cancer. In those that might be considered truly cancerous, he has known it relieve the pains, meliorate the quality of the matter proceeding from the sore, and even to make a considerable approach to its healing, though it never completed the cure. Mat. Med. It has been considered also as very useful in the chin cough and rheumatic complaints. See Butler on the Chin Cough.

When hemlock is imprudently eaten, it causes a vertigo, a dimness of sight, hiccough, madness, coldness of the extremities, convulsions, and death: sometimes by the spasms, which it produces in the stomach and other parts, haemorrhages, or an epilepsy come on, which, without very speedy relief, are fatal. The proper method of relief is to discharge the contents of the stomach by means of the most active emetics, and then to administer frequent doses of sharp vinegar, as in the articles Amanita and Venenum.

The proper method of administering hemlock internally is to begin with a few grains of the powder or inspissated juice, and gradually to increase the dose until a giddiness affects the head, a motion is felt in the eyes, as if pressed outwards, with a slight sickness and trembling agitation of the body. One or more of these symptoms are the evidences of a full dose, which should be continued until they have ceased, and then after a few days the dose may be increased; for little advantage can be expected but by a continuance of the greatest quantity the patient can bear. In some constitutions even small doses greatly offend, occasioning spasms, heat and thirst; in such instances it will be of no service.

The college of physicians of London order the inspissated juice of hemlock, succus cicltae spissatus, instead of the former extract, to be made in the following manner: let the expressed juice of hemlock, cleared from its faeces, be evaporated in a water bath saturated with sea salt to a proper consistence.

As the powder of the dried leaves has been thought to act, and may be depended upon, with more certainty than the extract, the following direction should be observed in the preparation: gather the plant about the end of June, when it is in flower; pick off the little leaves, and throw away the leaf stalks; dry the small selected leaves in a hot sun, or in a tin or pewter dish before the fire. Preserve them in bags made of strong brown paper, or powder them, and keep the powder in glass phials, where the light is excluded; for light dissipates the beautiful green colour very soon, and thus the medicine loses its appearance, if not its efficacy; this mode is recommended by Dr. Withering. The extract should also be made of the plant gathered at this period. That which grows in exposed places is generally stronger than what grows in the shade; and that in dry places is also to be preferred.

This plant has been taken a long time without any bad effect. When considerable inconveniences have arisen from its use, the cicuta aquatica has probably been mistaken for it. Externally it is applied with advantage, and particularly in the form of fomentation and poultice.

Fotus cicutae. Hemlock fomentation.-rx. Fol. ci-cutae recent. Cicu 2190 vi. vel siccae iij. coq. in aquae fontanae iij. et ij. et fiat fotus. This is commonly made use of to foment cancerous or scrofulous ulcers, previous to the application of the' succeeding cataplasm.

Cataplasma cicutae, Hemlock calaplasm.-rx. Fo-tus cicutae, q. v. inspissetur avenae farina ad crassitu-dinem cataplasmatis. This is not only applied in cancerous and scrofulous cases, but to inveterate ulcers, and very often both meliorates their discharge and lessens .their sensibility, though Mr. Justamond preferred the application of the fresh herb bruised. An ointment is also made of hemlock, by bruising the plant very well in a marble mortar, then mixing with it an equal quantity of hog's lard, and gently melting them over the fire; afterwards the composition is to be strained and stirred till cold. This has been recommended to be applied to cancerous or scrofulous sores.

In this mode it has been useful in resolving some indurations, especially that of the scrofulous kind; but in the indolent scirrhosities in the breasts of women it is seldom of any service; and the frequent applications of hemlock poultices have been known to do much harm, by bringing these tumours sooner to an open cancer. The hemlock bath requires no direction. The proportions are those of the fomentation. See Wilmer's Observations on Poisonous Vegetables. Withering's Bot. Arrangement, vol. i. p. 161. Cullen's Mat. Med. Cicuta aqua' tica, vel virosa. Water hemlock, also called sium majus alterum augustifolium, sium erucae folio. Long-leaved water hemlock and cow-bane. It is the cicuta virosa Lin. Sp. Pi. 365. Dr. Withering gives the following description of it:-rundle roundish, with many equal spokes. Rundles roundish, with many bristle shaped spokes. Empale-ment; general fence none. Partial fence of many leaves; little leaves, bristly, short. Cup scarcely evident. Blossom general, uniform. Florets all fertile. Individuals: petals five, egg shaped, nearly equal, bent inwards. Chives; threads five, hair like, longer than the petals. Tips simple. Pointal; seed bud beneath. Shafts two, thread shaped, longer than the petals, permanent. Summits roundish. Seed vessels none. Fruit nearly egg shaped; slightly furrowed; divisible into two. Seeds two, somewhat egg shaped; convex, and scored on one side; flat on the other. To this he adds, with rundles opposite the leaves. Leaf stalks with blunt borders; leaves with about seven pair of little leaves, which are variously divided and indented. Petals yellowish pale green. It is met with in shallow waters, and flowers in July.

It is one of the most active of the vegetable poisons. Early in the spring, when it grows in the water, cows often eat it, and are killed by it; but as the summer advances, and its smell becomes stronger, they carefully avoid it.

Mr. Wilmer observes, that the poison is of that class which produces epileptic symptoms. Wepfer notices some children, who, on eating the roots of this plant, were seized with pains of the precordia, loss of speech, abolition of the senses, and terrible convulsions; the jaws were locked, blood started from the ears, the eyes were distorted, and some of them died in half an hour. Others have observed that the old roots are a more active and sudden poison than arsenic or corrosive sublimate.

If any of this plant is taken, a quick vomit should be instantly given, after which vinegar in water should be drunk freely. Sec Venenum.

See Lewis's Mat. Med. Lond. Med. Obs. and Inq. vol. iii. p. 229, etc. 400, etc.. vol. iv. p. 104, etc. Neumann's Chemical Works. Medical Museum, vol. iii. p. 566. Withering's Botanic Arrangement, vol. i. p. 177.