Aconite (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
Aconite is the common name for any of 100 or more related species in the Aconitum genus. Two of the species, Aconitum napellus and Aconitum carmichaeli are used medicinally. The more popular remedy, Aconitum napellus, is a plant that grows in mountainous regions of Central Asia, Russia, Europe, and Great Britain. This perennial plant from the Ranunculaceae family grows to a height of 3 ft (1 m) and has dark green, glossy leaves and dark blue flowers.
Other names for aconite are wolf's bane, monkshood, blue rocket, and friar's cap. Wolf's bane is a direct translation of the Greek word Lycotonum. The Greeks left the plant as poisonous bait for wolves or anointed arrows with the juice of the herb in order to kill wolves. The plant was nicknamed monkshood and friar's cap because of the shape of the flowers.
The plant in its fresh form is highly poisonous. The poison comes from the toxic alkaloid aconitine. Aconitine is found in the whole plant but is mainly concentrated in the root. Symptoms of poisoning include tingling, numbness of the tongue and mouth, nausea and vomiting, labored breathing, a weak and irregular pulse, and cold, clammy skin. Even the smallest amounts of aconitine inside the mouth cause burning, tingling, and numbness. As little as 2 mg of aconitine can cause death in...
(The entire section is 1314 words.)
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