Who knew this dangerous plant is found throughout the UK?
I had a patient last summer who was badly poisoned strimming a garden - he never saw an identifiable plant but thinks he must have clipped some shoots of a young Giant Hogweed.
His arms had itched almost immediately and then these huge blisters formed on every exposed part of his skin. He’d been to the doctor, the hospital and back to the doctor but apart from painkillers no one could do anything for him and he was being driven mad with the pain.
There are a few homeopathic remedies for burns and as I had these to hand I gave him Causticum and Rhus tox which took some of the itching away but as it looked as if he had been exposed to the highly toxic hogweed I gave him Heracleum Sphondylium or common hogweed. With homeopathic remedies often a remedy which is similar works better than the actual substance which has caused the problem in the first place.
He said the relief was almost immediate and within 48 hours the blisters and itching cleared up altogether. I suggested he take some calendula to repair the damage to his skin and when I saw him a week later, his arms were a little red but unrecognisable compared to these photos.
An escaped ornamental from Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia, it is now found throughout the UK. It’s an impressive plant and fully grown can be 5m high. Looking a little like a cross between rhubarb and cow parsley, it has leaves 3m long and hollow, ridged stems with purple blotches covered in stiff hairs. It’s sap contains the toxin furocoumarin which if it gets on to the skin and then is exposed to sunlight results in these painful blistering burns. The blistering can recur over months and even years.