Introduction of Aconite (Aconitum spicatum)
Aconite, scientifically known as Aconitum spicatum and commonly referred to as Nepalese Aconite, belonging to the Ranunculaceae family, is a perennial flowering plant. It is equally known for its medical benefits as well as its toxic and poisonous nature. In Nepal, it is rightly called Bikhmura, identifying its poisonous nature. As so, proper caution is required in handling and using this plant.
Characteristics of Aconite (Aconitum spicatum)
The aconite plant grows to a height of 1-2 meters. It has a thick, black rhizome and blue-purple flowers. It is native to the Himalayan region, including Nepal, and has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine for its medicinal properties.
The plant contains a number of alkaloids, including aconitine, which is a highly toxic compound. Aconitine is a cardiac glycoside, which means that it affects the heart. It can cause a number of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, headache, sweating, and numbness. In high doses, aconitine can be fatal.
As Aconite is highly toxic, trained and experienced traditional therapists typically mix it with other medicinal plants to reduce its toxicity while retaining its potency.
Even though Aconite is toxic, it's still used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating various conditions such as fever, arthritis, and pain. It also helps improve strength and endurance.
Here are some benefits of Aconite when used correctly:
Pain Relief & Less Inflammation: Aconite is known to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It's often applied directly on the skin with a paste or oil for sore joints, muscles, arthritis, and other inflammatory issues.
Heart Health Booster: Traditional medicine uses Aconite to support the heart and circulation. However, it should only be taken under professional guidance because of potential heart-related risks when not used properly.
Breathing Support: Aconite can aid in respiratory problems due to its ability to clear mucus and open up airways. It has been found helpful for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma.
Fever & Cold Remedy: Traditionally, Aconite has been used to treat fevers and common colds. It's thought to have fever-reducing properties and can ease symptoms from viral or bacterial infections.
Digestive Helper: In Ayurvedic medicine, Aconite is used for digestion support and treating digestive issues. It is believed to improve digestion, and appetite, and reduce problems like indigestion, gas, and abdominal pain.
Stress Relief & Nerve Soother: Aconite has been seen as a nerve tonic in traditional medicine. It can help calm nerves, lessen anxiety, and encourage relaxation. Some formulations even use it for supporting mental health and stress relief.
However, there are some side effects of Aconite:
Nausea and vomiting
In extreme cases - death
In Nepal, depending on the region, Aconite is used for various purposes, as mentioned below:
To reduce fever and pain To help with a sore throat, cut, wounds
To control high blood pressure
To treat jaundice
Keep in mind that Aconite contains harmful alkaloids like aconitine, which can be risky if misused. This plant should be utilized solely under the direction of a skilled professional who knows the correct preparation and dosage.