Perennial herb growing to 5 ft (1.5 m). Has dark green lobed leaves with violet or blue delphinium-like flowers on long spikes.
Habitat & Cultivation
Aconite grows mainly in southern and central Europe. It prefers damp and shady sites, and is cultivated as a garden plant. The root is unearthed in autumn.
Aconite contains 0.3–2% terpenoid alkaloids, principally aconitine.
History & Folklore
Aconitum species have traditionally been used as arrow poisons.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Aconite is poisonous in all but the smallest doses, and is rarely prescribed for internal use. More commonly, it is applied to unbroken skin to relieve pain from bruises or neurological conditions. In Ayurvedic medicine, aconite is used to treat neuralgia, asthma, and heart weakness. Aconite is also used extensively in homeopathy as an analgesic and sedative.
Chinese aconite (A. carmichaelii) is used in China for shock and to support the circulatory system in emergencies. Trials in China indicate that it is helpful in congestive heart failure.
Aconite is highly toxic and is subject to legal restriction in some countries. Use only under professional supervision.