Cowbane is a perennial plant with a strong, dense rhizome that is divided into several hollow chambers, with many white lateral roots. The stem is also hollow, smooth, slightly grooved and branched, up to 1.5 m tall. The leaves are arranged on long stems at the height of the entire stem. The bilobed flowers are white-yellowish or white-greenish in umbel-shaped inflorescences, the diameter of which usually does not exceed 12 cm. Fruits - white, round two testicles.
The poisonous Cowbane is often confused with Hemlock. The easiest way to tell these plants apart is to remember that the spotted dogwood has a bluish sheen on the stem and a powdery coating on the lower part of the plant, as well as dark red spots.
The most poisonous part of the Cowbane is the root, so the above-ground part of the plant, which is less poisonous than the root part, is more often used for medicinal purposes. Collect the plant in protective gloves and clothing that prevents the plant juice from getting on the skin, because in this way it is also possible to get poisoned with this plant. After contact with this plant, wash your hands with soap. When collecting this plant, it is strictly forbidden to involve children and young people in this activity. Ready drug is stored in closed boxes, separately from other plants.
The surface part and the root of the Cowbane contain a poisonous substance - cikutoxin. In dried roots it is up to 3.5%. The plant also contains alkaloids, essential oils, which include pinene, phelandrene and the essential oil cicutol. The flavonoids isorhamnetin and quercetin were also found in the above-ground part.
The main active substance of the poisonous Cowbane is amorphous cikutotoxin, which has a convulsive effect and is able to destroy the nervous system within a few hours. This substance is well soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, as well as in boiling water. Its highest concentration is in the roots of the plant. The cicutotoxin concentration of the plant increases during drying.
In small doses, this plant depresses the CNS, reduces motor activity and blood pressure, can be used as a sedative and a mild diuretic.
Science does not consider this plant to be used in medicine, because cicutotoxin is too dangerous a substance. The results obtained in laboratory tests showed that this toxin is equally strong and effective as cyanide. The minimum dose of the toxin for humans has not been determined. In medicine, one chooses to use other plants whose effects are equivalent or even stronger and are not life-threatening. The effectiveness of the poisonous Cowbane in the treatment of oncological diseases has not been scientifically proven.
The poisonous Cowbane is used exclusively in folk medicine and homeopathy. Poultices and ointments are made from this plant. The setting is used as an antipyretic, diaphoretic, expectorant and sedative. It is used in fever, paralysis, epilepsy, psychoses and twitching of the tongue, as well as to treat bronchial asthma, rheumatism, gout and angina pectoris. Not infrequently, scientists offer the use of poison Cowbane against cancer, following a very complex application scheme.
In the form of compresses, this plant is used in case of hardened mammary glands and inflamed lymph nodes. Ointments of this plant treat arthritis, inflammation of the sciatic nerve, dermatitis and skin ulcers.
Poisonous Cowbane contains powerful neurotoxins! The first symptoms of poisoning appear after a few minutes. It all starts with dizziness, stomach pain, nausea with long and continuous vomiting. Skin sensitivity decreases, sense of balance disappears, general itching, pupils dilate, then both clonic and tonic convulsions begin, coordination abilities disappear, tachycardia. Increased saliva begins to be released, often foaming from the mouth. Without timely help, everything ended with the onset of death - breathing or the heart stops.
The plant is poisonous to both, humans and animals. For adult livestock, the lethal dose is 200 gr. roots of this plant, 50 gr is enough for smaller ones. The lethal dose for a person is directly related to its weight, as little as 50mg/Kg can cause fatal consequences for a person. It is important to know that the poisonous substances of this plant are not destroyed by heat treatment or long-term storage.
Treatment with poisonous Cowbane is extremely dangerous! Using this herb and accidentally overdosing, even in small doses, can cause serious heart problems over time.