Herb: Aconite


Latin name: Aconitum napellus


Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



Medicinal use of Aconite:

Aconite has been used since ancient times, especially as an antidote to poisoning. Since the entire plant is itself very toxic, however, any use should be under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. All parts of the plant are used medicinally. The root is the most important and this is harvested as soon as the plant dies down in the autumn and is dried before use. The other parts of the plant are less important and are used fresh, being harvested when the plant is coming into flower. The root is analgesic, anodyne, antirheumatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, irritant and sedative. Due to its poisonous nature, it is not normally used internally though it has been used in the treatment of fevers. Externally, it is applied to unbroken skin in the treatment of rheumatism, painful bruises, neuralgia etc. All parts of the plant, except the root, are harvested when the plant is in flower and used to make a homeopathic medicine. This is analgesic and sedative and is used especially in the treatment of fevers, inflammation, bronchitis, neuralgia etc.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
150 cm
(5 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Damp shady places and moist rich meadows in southern Wales and south-western England. It is usually found in calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Aconite:

Some reports suggest the root is edible if cooked, but these should be treated with extreme caution due to the highly toxic nature of the plant.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division - best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year.

Cultivation of Aconite:

Damp shady places and moist rich meadows in southern Wales and south-western England. It is usually found in calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Aconitum napellus:

The whole plant is highly toxic, acting especially on the nerve centres. At first it stimulates the central and peripheral nervous system and then paralyzes it. Other symptoms of poisoning include a burning sensation on the tongue, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Simple skin contact with the plant has caused numbness in some people. The root contains 90% more poison than the leaves.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.