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What is aconite? What is it used
Aconite is an extremely powerful and potentially toxic herb.
Native to Asia, it has been used for thousands of years by
practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. The plant contains
narrow, spike-shaped leaves with purple flowers. Some practitioners
use dried roots and tubers for herbal remedies; homeopaths
typically use the whole plant in their preparations.
In traditional Chinese medicine, aconite is considered an
effective stimulant for the spleen and kidneys, and is a popular
treatment for malaise, general weakness, poor circulation,
cancer, and heart disease. Aconite is also occasionally used
in very low doses by modern homeopathic practitioners as a
treatment for colds, influenza, rheumatism and congestion.
The German Commission E has recognized the effectiveness of
aconite in treating neuralgia.
The main active ingredient in aconite is aconitine. Even
in small amounts, aconitine can inhibit respiration and, in
some cases, lead to respiratory failure. As a result, aconite
is usually combined with other herbs to diminish its potentially
How much aconite should I take?
There are no generally accepted dosages for aconite. It is
usually taken in conjunction with other herbs and botanicals.
However, some practitioners employ an aconite lotion that
contains 1.3% aconitine.
What forms of aconite are available?
Aconite is usually incorporated into other herbal preparations,
most commonly as teas or infusions. Ointments, liniments and
lotions containing aconite are also available.
What can happen if I take too much
aconite? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Because of its toxic nature, aconite should only taken under
the strict supervision of a qualified expert trained in its
appropriate use. As little as two milligrams of aconitine
taken internally may cause death. Possible side-effects include
burning, numbness, cardiac arrythmia, dizziness, hypothermia,
muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, blurred or double vision,
speech difficulties and difficulty breathing.
Aconite should never be taken while pregnant
and should never be used on broken skin. If
a skin reaction to aconite occurs, discontinue its use immediately.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Aconite. The Columbia Encyclopedia,
6th ed. 2001. Available online at www.bartleby.org.
- Blumenthal M (ed.) The Complete German
Commission E Monographs. Boston: Integrative Medicine
- Culpeper N. Culpeper's Color Herbal.
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1983.
- Fetrow C, Avila J. Professional's Handbook
of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse
Corporation, Springhouse, PA, 1999.
- Fleming T (ed). PDR for Herbal Medicines.
Medical Economics Company, Inc., Montvale, NJ, 1998.