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Aconite (Aconitum napellus)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Aconitum napellus

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    Aconite has been used since ancient times, especially as an antidote to poisoning[244]. Since the entire plant is itself very toxic, however, any use should be under the guidance of a skilled practitioner[4]. All parts of the plant are used medicinally. The root is the most important and this is harvested as soon as the plant dies down in the autumn and is dried before use[4]. The other parts of the plant are less important and are used fresh, being harvested when the plant is coming into flower[4].

    The root is analgesic, anodyne, antirheumatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, irritant and sedative[4, 7, 9, 165, 200]. Due to its poisonous nature, it is not normally used internally though it has been used in the treatment of fevers[200]. Externally, it is applied to unbroken skin in the treatment of rheumatism, painful bruises, neuralgia etc[200, 254].

    All parts of the plant, except the root, are harvested when the plant is in flower and used to make a homeopathic medicine[232]. This is analgesic and sedative and is used especially in the treatment of fevers, inflammation, bronchitis, neuralgia etc[9, 232].

  • Edible Use

    Some reports suggest the root is edible if cooked[2, 177], but these should be treated with extreme caution due to the highly toxic nature of the plant[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The whole plant is highly toxic, acting especially on the nerve centres. At first it stimulates the central and peripheral nervous system and then paralyzes it. Other symptoms of poisoning include a burning sensation on the tongue, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Simple skin contact with the plant has caused numbness in some people[4, 7, 9, 10, 14, 19, 65, 76, 244]. The root contains 90% more poison than the leaves[232].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[111]. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate[133]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn[1, 111]. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year[233].
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees[1]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade[200]. Plants only thrive in a sunny position if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season[238]. Prefers a calcareous soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 7.5. Plants take 2 – 3 years to flower when grown from seed[244]. Grows well in open woodlands[1, 4]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[244]. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer[233]. Although the plant is a perennial, individual roots only live for one year and die after flowering. Each root produces a number of ‘daughter’ roots before it dies and these can be used for propagating the plant[4]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes[54]. An aggregate species which is divided by some botanists into many species[17, 76].
Most of Europe, including Britain, east to N. W. Asia and the Himalayas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.