Aconite Side Effects
Aconite, or wolfbane, is a perennial herbaceous plant with violet-blue hooded flowers. It grows two to four feet tall and flowers from late summer to fall. Its natural habitat is the mountains of France, Switzerland and Germany. At one time, aconite was a homeopathic remedy used in western medicine. Today, aconite use in medicine has been discontinued in favor of safer medications.
Aconite was once mixed with bait to poison wild wolves. Soldiers would dump aconite down wells in order to poison an enemy’s water supply. Greek mythology tells of the three-headed hound of the underworld, Cerberus poisoning aconite with his saliva. Witches used to mix aconite with belladonna to create a flying ointment. This mixture would cause hallucinations and a sense of an out-of-body experience.
Internal use of aconite slows the heart rate and causes extreme sweating. It can also cause fatally low blood pressure. Aconite paralyzes the nerves that handle pain, touch and temperature. A small dose of aconite was once used as a local anesthetic.
A smear of aconite juice on a small cut affects the whole system. Aconite poisoning causes pain in the limbs, a sense of suffocation and a loss of consciousness. Aconite can also be absorbed through the skin. On contact it creates a warm tingling feeling followed by numbness. Topical use of aconite has been used to relieve arthritis and nerve pain.
Aconite is toxic and should not be used for any external or internal treatment. The entire plant is poisonous, especially the roots. Aconite contains several toxic alkaloids that stimulate the central and peripheral nerves. After stimulation aconite then acts as a depressant to the nervous system. A dose of just two to five mg of aconite is enough to cause death by paralyzing the respiratory system.
Most cases of aconite poisoning come from misidentifying aconite in the wild. The leaves can be mistaken for wild parsley. The roots are similar to wild horseradishes. Always be sure about a plant’s identification before consuming a plant gathered from the wild.