CONIINE (from Lat. conium. Gk. tcLivelov, koncion, hemlock), The active alka loid principle of hemlock, the seeds of the spotted hemlock plant (Con inn! m(ceulatum, Lin ne). a volatile substance, coniine may be readily obtained from the seeds by distilling with water, which contains a little soda in solution; coniine then passes over with the water in the form of a yellowish oil, but, when purified by re distillation. it is obtained as a colorless, trans parent, oily liquid having a penetrating hemlock like odor, communicating a burning sensation if applied to the tongue, and acting as a very ener getic poison. It has a powerful alkaline reaction and precipitates metallic oxides from many salts. Strong sulphuric acid causes its compounds to assume first a purple-red and then an olive green color, while nitrie acid gives a blood-red color that fades into an orange. It is mod erately soluble in water, its solutions having the property of turning the plane of polarized light to the right. If pure, it boils at 167° C.
The chief physiological effect of coniine is a powerful depression of all motor nerves, begin ning at their periphery and gradually aseending to the spinal cord. As a result. all motion, voluntary and reflex, is paralyzed, although the muscles are not affected. This leads to enfeeble went of the respiration and finally causes death by asphyxia. The symptoms of coniiue poisoning are increasing heaviness in the legs and feeble ness in the arms, dimness of vision, dilated pupils, dillienIty in swallowing and breathing, and finally, loss of the voice. As coniine has•
no action on the brain, consciousness is pre served until the end. The following illustration will give an idea of the rapidity of its action: One drop placed in the eye of a rabbit killed it in nine minutes: three drops employed in the same way killed a strong cat in a minute and a half ; while five drops, poured into the throat of a small dog. began to act in 30 seconds, and in as many more motion and respiration had ceased. In a case of coniine poisoning, emetics and the stomach-pump should be employed as early as possible; the patient's feet should be kept warm, a stimulant injected subcutaneously, and artificial respiration employed. Coniine is hut rarely used as a therapeutic agent in medi cine; it is extremely doubtful whether it has any useful effect at all, except perhaps in spas modic diseases, like whooping-cough, lockjaw, or epilepsy. See LOCK.
Chemically. confine has been shown to he the dextro-rotary modification of a-propyl-piperidine, its formula being represented by the following graphic scheme: The artificial preparation of coniine was the first synthesis of an optically active alkaloid. See also the article Aucm.outs.