Why would Claire have water hemlock root in her surgery on Outlander?

Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ /

Claire found out her water hemlock root had been stolen from her surgery. Considering how dangerous it is, why would she have the root on Outlander?

One thing Claire has done from the beginning of the series is use herbs and plants for medicinal purposes. In the 18th century on Outlander, she needs to. However, one of the items she has in her surgery is a toxic substance called water hemlock root.

When she learns that it’s been stolen, she’s immediately worried. She knows how dangerous it is. In fact, she ponders whether Roger took it to do harm to himself.

We now know who took it, but what it doesn’t explain is why she would have such a poisonous item in her medical stores. Why would she need it?

She does explain in the episode, asking Marsali if the root was prescribed for a migraine. It sounds like this is the most common use for Claire and the people on the Ridge, but there are others that it would have been used for. Of course, a trained physician would have had to prescribe it, which means Claire likely made it clear only she was to touch it.

Water hemlock root was used for painful menstruation and would help remove worms from the intestines. WebMD also notes that it can be used to help reduce inflammation when applied on the skin.

Yet, Young Ian clearly knew that the item was also poisonous. It’s actually one of the most poisonous substances in North America and can cause death within 15 minutes. Young Ian would have likely known the dangers due to the Native American uses for it. It would often be applied to the tips of arrows to poison victims.

This would have been an item Claire would have kept out of reach. It had its uses, but only for extreme cases. After all, there would have been other herbs to help with migraines and menstrual pain.

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Outlander Season 5 continues on Sundays on STARZ.