Aconite is a perennial herb, with bluish lavender flowers and is also a poisonous plant. The danger is the toxic alkaloid Aconitine, among several others. These poisons slow the heart and decrease blood pressure. They induce sweating and by nature, reduce inflammation. Although Aconite is best used as an ornamental herb in the home garden, it does have its usefulness in the natural healing world.
Extracts of the Aconitum species have been used orally in traditional medicine to reduce fever associated with colds, pneumonia, laryngitis, croup, and asthma; and for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, diuretic, cardiac depressant (slow heart rate), and sedative properties. Because aconite is highly toxic, its use is not recommended in the use of pharmacology. Raw aconite products are extremely toxic; their alkaloids have a narrow therapeutic index and the alkaloid type and amount vary with species, place of harvest, and adequacy of processing. Even external application is reported to cause toxic symptoms. Aconite is not recommended for self-medication.
Like many other poisons, for example arsenic, strychnine and prussic acid, aconite had a place in medical practice. It was introduced as a medicinal herb in 1763 in Vienna. In 1788 it was added to the London Pharmacopoeia and to the first US Pharmacopoeia in 1820. However, because the therapeutic dose is so close to the toxic dose, it was later deleted from both pharmacopoeias. But with that said, the most poisonous part is the roots that are fleshy and spindle shaped. The aconite leaves are deep green in colour, with alternating spiral arrangement. Aconite fruit is a follicle that bears a lot of seeds. Historically, aconite was most commonly used in Western cultures as a tincture. It was applied topically as a counterirritant liniment for neuralgia, rheumatism, and sciatica.
This very toxic herb should not be used without the supervision of a health care provider but it is best to avoid it.