Aconitum napellus L.
plant : Aconite, Aconitum napellus L. Renonculaceae.
includes 350 species, principally in Northern hemisphere, in moutainous
and moist areas. Only four species are present in France :
A. vulparia, with yellow flowers
and non tuberous root.
anthora, with yellow flowers. This species does not contain aconitine,
but atisine. It is less toxic than previous species.
Aconitum variegatum, with blue
or white or spotted flowers.
napellus is an herbaceous and perennial plant, with touberous root.
Root usually presents two tubers, blue flowers, calyx with five sepals,
back sepal is different, helmet-shaped.
parts contain complex alkaloids, concentrated majoritary in root. Rate
changes with seasons and geographic origin of plant (0,5 to 1,5 %). Main
alkaloid is aconitine, but a lot of alkaloids are present : hypaconitine,
mesaconitine, lycaconitine, neopelline, napelline, neoline... Main alkaloid
is different for each species.
is exceptional in France where plant is rare, it is accidental or suicidal.
In China, poisoning with aconite is not rare because different species
growth in China and chinese people uses aconite to make drug. But chinese
people reduces toxicity of tubers with boiling water before utilization.
In Asia, poisoning with aconite is brought about bad preparation or guilty
In Occidental countries, poisoning
is found in chinese diaspora, but also among occidental people using chinese
Toxic doses of aconitine to human
are low (3 mg) : it is a violent poison. For 5 to 10 mg of aconitine survival
is possible with effective treatement . For root, 2 to 4 g kill an adult.
Poisoning with ingestion is very
fast, root is the very dangerous part of the plant. First symptoms are
tinglings in mouth and tongue, then in face and limbs. Then anxiety attack,
vertigo, weakness. Then, diarrhoea, heart troubles, and death with asphyxia.
Consciousness is intact, aconitine only paralyses breathing and peripheral
Treatment is difficult, antidote
does not exist. Best treatment is fast evacuation of toxic substances,
when it is possible and medical supervision in hospital. But prognosis
are traditional remedies. Today, in Occident, aconites are not used because
they are toxic. But in Asia, aconites are traditionally used to make drugs.
Aconites are used to treat nevralgia
and cough. Aconites are used in the past to poison arrows (hunt).
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