Scientific name: Tsuga canadensis
Common names: Canada Pitch Tree, Hemlock Tree, Hemlock Gum Tree, Hemlock Pitch Tree, Weeping Spruce, Pine Tops, Tanner’s Bark, Tsuga
Ayurvedic names: Absinthe, Absinthium, Sarchappa, Characha Sushruta, Raajak shavaka, Kattaka
Chinese names: Penaceae, Abies Chinensis, Tsuga Chinensis, Tieshan,
Bangladesh names: Ami Bangaladeshi, Warlock’s weed, Winter fern, Water hemlock,
Arabic names: الشوكران (ash-shawkaraan)
Rain Forest names: Tsuga Mertensiana, Himalayan hemlock,
Approximate number of species known:
Common parts used: Inner bark, leaf
Height: Almost 175 feet
Actions: Astrigent, diaphoretic, diuretic
Known Constituents: Resin, volatile oil, oil of spruce or oil of hemlock, and tannin
The flow of juice from incisions in the bark is much less than in most of the species, but at the time of late maturity a spontaneous exudation partly evaporates, hardening on the bark, which is stripped, broken in pieces, and boiled in water. The melted pitch is skimmed off and boiled for a second time. The product is of a dark reddish-brown colour, brittle, hard, opaque, almost tasteless, and with a very slight odour. It melts and softens at a low temperature.
An astringent applied internally and externally. The bark has been used by tanners in making shoe leather. The leaf should not be taken during pregnancy. It has been used for the kidneys and uterus.
Herb Name: Hemlock
Latin name: Conium maculatum
Common part used:
Leaves, fruit, seeds
The Hemlock is a member of the great order Umbelliferae, the same family of plants to which the parsley, fennel, parsnip and carrot belong. Many of the umbelliferous plants abound in an acrid, watery juice, which is more or less narcotic in its effects on the animal frame, and which, therefore, when properly administered in minute doses, is a valuable medicine. Among these the most important is Conium, or Hemlock. Every part of this plant, especially the fresh leaves and fruit, contains a volatile, oily alkaloid, which is so poisonous that a few drops prove fatal to a small animal.
Hemlock is a tall, much branched and gracefully growing plant, with elegantly-cut foliage and white flowers. Country people very generally call by the name of Hemlock many species of umbelliferous plants, but the real Hemlock may be distinguished by its slender growth, perfectly smooth stem which is marked with red, and its finely-divided leaves which are also smooth.
Hemlock has had only a limited use in medicine. The Anglo-Saxons used it in their medicine, and is mentioned as early as the tenth century in Old English medical texts.
Hemlock is sedative and antispasmodic, and in sufficient doses acts as a paralyser to the centres of motion (as described above). In its action it is, therefore, directly antagonistic to that of strychnine, and hence it has been recommended as an antidote to strychnine poisoning, and in other poisons of the same class, as well as in diseases such as tetanus and rabies where powerful muscular spasms are a feature of the disease, and it has also been used as an inhaled treatment for asthma. It has also, in the past at least, been used as a treatment for neuralgia and rheumatism, although its use in medicine gradually declined due to the difficulty of preparing and administering reliable dosages of the alkaloid. Indeed, a few drops of the pale, watery juice are usually sufficient to kill a small mammal.
Hemlock was formerly believed to be effective in the treatment of scrofulous disorders. It is also used in cure of indolent tumors, swellings and pains of the joints, as well as for skin problems.