Use of aconite as a natural remedy: is it safe?

Aconite was used to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and fight colds. However, today it is discouraged due to its side effects.

Last update: 16 March, 2022

Aconite, scientific name Aconitum napellusis a plant that belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to rocky areas of Europe and Asia, although many use it for ornamental purposes due to its showy purple flowers.

In ancient times, its stems, flowers and roots were used to prepare analgesic, diuretic and circulation-stimulating remedies. However, over time it was determined that it has highly toxic compounds that can lead to serious health problems. Why is it better to avoid it?

Uses of aconite in history

It is important to mention that aconite is also known by other names, such as “friar’s hat” and “run away from old wife”. This is because its flowers are shaped like a medieval monk’s hood.

Also, there are those who call it “bane of the wolf”, since in the past the shepherds used it to fatten and kill these animals. Beyond this, the plant is listed in books of magic and witchcraft as an ingredient for potions.

Due to its high toxicity, has a long history as a poison. The most recent case occurred in 2010, the year in which a British woman was convicted of poisoning a person with a curry spicy aconite.

Medicinal uses of aconite

Although its use as a poison dates back to ancient times, aconite has also been used as a natural remedy in traditional Chinese medicine and conventional Western medicine. In fact, homeopathic supplements are now available that contain this plant.

But why is it used? Well, due to its composition, there are those who attribute analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and stimulant properties to it. According to a post in Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Some of its traditional uses include the following:

  • Rheumatism and gout.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia.
  • Lumbago and sciatica.
  • Colds.
  • sore throats
  • Toothaches.
  • Snake bites.
  • Stomach aches.
  • Fever.

Even a review shared on Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences suggests the presence of certain components of aconite that can benefit health. Despite this, the evidence is insufficient and, on the contrary, its risks have been reported to outweigh the possible benefits.

The toxic power of this plant almost rules out its medicinal use, due to the risks.

It is a plant abundant in alkaloids

Much of the medicinal properties of aconite explained by its content of alkaloids. In particular, it is a source of aconitine, caffeine, strychnine, and nicotine. These substances, to a certain extent, contribute to the relief of neuralgia, muscle pain and respiratory difficulties, among others.

The problem is that in excessive amounts they are quite harmful. Hence also the dangers of using it. The risk is higher when used at home.

Why is it dangerous to use aconite as a natural remedy?

Aconitine, like other aconite alkaloids, have detrimental effects on the body. Especially when your intake is excessive. The plant’s toxins have been compared to the venom released by some dangerous snakes.

In particular, they are said to be “cardiotoxins” and “neurotoxins”, since compromise the functioning of the cardiovascular system and the central nervous system. Specifically, poisoning with the plant can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Stomach aches, nausea and vomiting.
  • Burning sensation in the mouth and tongue.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Tingling sensation.
  • face stiffness
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Blurry vision.
  • seizures
  • Death (in doses ranging from 1 to 8 milligrams).

How is this plant used?

Some say that soaking and boiling aconite lowers its level of toxicity. Even so, home use is not recommended because the risk remains high. In fact, it is dangerous to absorb large amounts of the plant through skin or open wounds.

It is possible to find supplements of this herb in health food stores. It is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. However, they come with specific instructions that must be followed for safety.

How to act in case of aconite poisoning?

eye! One of the reasons why the use of this plant is completely discouraged is because there is no known antidote to treat poisoning which causes Before the symptoms, it is essential to go urgently to the doctor to closely monitor and control the vital signs.

The professional may suggest a stomach lavage and the use of artificial respiration, as the case warrants. He will also monitor your blood pressure and heart rate and determine if any medications need to be given. In more severe cases, cardiopulmonary bypass surgery is done.

Hospitalization in intensive care may be a consequence of the use of aconite.

Possible interactions

You must not ignore the risk of interactions between plant supplements and medications. In this sense, its simultaneous consumption with anticoagulant drugs and stimulant drugs is not recommended.

What to remember about aconite?

Although it is still distributed as a homeopathic supplement, monkshood is a dangerous plant that can lead to serious health consequences. Although benefits are attributed to it, its risks are reason enough to avoid its use.

Therefore, it is best to look for other alternatives to treat the ailments. Consulting a doctor will always be the most prudent, especially if a relevant health problem is suspected.

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