back Aconitum Napellus

Synonym. - Aconitum napellus.

Natural order.- Ranunculaceae.

Common name. - Monk's Hood.

Habitat. - Native of Europe; cultivated in America.

Preparation.- Tincture from the whole plant, gathered at the time of flowering.


Acts predominantly upon the cerebro-spinal nervous system, producing an exalted activity in the arterial circulation, paralyzing the arterial capillaries, and, as a result, giving congestions and inflammations of various parts, especially of the brain, spinal cord, serous and mucous membranes, muscles and joints.

According to Dr. Bartholow, Aconite affects the sensory nerves before the motor.  It paralyzes first the end organs next the nerve trunks, and finally the centers of sensation in the cord.  It also impairs the reflex function of the spinal cord ; but this effect is secondary to the sensory paralysis.  It causes an arrest of motility through its action on the motor centers of the cord, and subsequently on the nerve trunks.  Applied directly to the heart, Aconite lessens the number and force of its beats, and finally arrests its action in the diastole.  It also lowers the arterial pressure.  It is, therefore, a direct cardiac poison, affecting all the structures of the heart, the ganglia nerves, and muscular substance.  Aconite also paralyzes the muscles of respiration, through its action upon the peripheral fibres of the pneumogastric.  From a therapeutic standpoint, however, all these features of the physiological effects of Aconite are of secondary importance, as compared with its power to produce and remove congestions and inflammations of the various organs and tissues of the body, though its use in functional and organic cardiac diseases, and in affections of both the sensory and motor nerve centers, giving rise to neuralgic and paralytic states, has proved it to be of incalculable service in such conditions.

Aconite also causes an increase of elimination by the skin and kidneys, the solids being excreted in proportion with the fluids.

There is very little evidence that Aconite produces any organic changes, its power being wholly functional, though it Is frequently useful in the course of organic diseases of the heart and other organs, for the removal or palliation of symptoms which may arise, and which indicate its employment.

The leading expression of Aconite is a feverish, nervous rest- lessness, or mental distress, which characterizes its entire action.


Mind. - Great timidity (Aur., Bell., Cinch., Ign., Phos.), especially after a fright ; afraid in the dark, fear of ghosts, etc. (Ars., Puls.); raging delirium, especially at night. Delirium. Chattering childish nonsense (Hyos.); thinks he is dying, with restless jerking and jumping about (Ars.).  Fear of approaching death (Agn., Ars., Cimic, Nitr. ac, Sec.) ; predicts the day of death (Apis) . Inconsolable anxiety ; piteous waitings (Verat. alb.); vexation about trifles (Nitr. ac, Nux v.).  Excessive restlessness, agonized tossing about (iEth., Ars., Camph., Natr., Ars., Rhus.).  Variable humor, alternate attacks of gayety and dejection (Ign., Nux. m., Phos., Plat.). Dullness and confusion of mind; weakness of memory. o Ailments from fright (Gels., Op.); from vexation ; from anger (Bry., Cham.).

Head. - Vertigo with nausea and vanishing of sight.  Vertigo when rising from a recumbent posture (Bry., Cham., Phos.) with fainting and pale face (Bell., Puls., Sulph.).  Vertigo on stooping (Sulph.); staggers especially to the right. Vertigo from congestion; ofrom anger; ofrom fright; ofrom suddenly suppressed catamenia. Burning headache, as if the brain were agitated by boiling wader.  Fullness and heavy feeling, as if everything would, push out of the forehead (Bry., Sulph.).  Aching in vertex, worse at night; better on motion and in the open air. Drawing pressing feeling in trigeminus, then shooting, wandering, intermittent, then constant pain, sometimes pressure. Sunstroke(Bell.,Glon.) especially from sleeping in the rays of the sun. Congestion ; anxiety; face hot and red (Ferr.), or pale; carotids pulsate strongly (Bell.); pulse full, strong, or small and quick; worse towards evening. Sensation as if the hairs stood on end; scalp sensitive to the touch (Baryta carb., Bell., Cinch., Natr. mur., Nitr. ac, Merc, Mez., Nux v.). Stitches under the scalp.  Formication, better from heat. Sensitiveness of the scalp to cold air, especially a strong wind.

Eyes. - Bloodshot. Dull, surrounded with blue rings. Distorted.  Sensitive to the air.  Pain anteriorly as if the eye would be pushed out when the lids were opened (Sang.).  Violent and acute inflammation, oin the earlier stages (Bell.). Intense burning, pressive, shooting pains, especially on moving the eyeballs.  oConjunctivitis resulting from the irritation of foreign bodies in the eye ; from ingrowing eye- lashes; from exposure to cold, dry winds.  Sensitive to light, particularly sun light (Sulph.); light dazzles the eyes (Bell.).  Pupils contracted.  Vision dim or entirely lost.  Eyeballs feel enlarged, as if coming out of the sockets.  Lids hard, red, swollen; feel tense, hot, dry, burning and sensitive to the air.  Sensation of sand in lower inner canthus.

Ears. - Great sensitiveness to every noise; noise intolerable (Bell., Lyc), particularly music (Ambra, Phos. ac).  Ringing or roaring in ears (Bell., Cinch., Lyc). External ear hot, red and swollen (Bell., Apis).  Pain in the right ear (Acon., Aur., Bell., Colch., Hep. s., Lyc, Graph.).

Nose. - Sense of smell very acute (Bell.), especially for unpleasant odors.  Epistaxis (Bell., Bry.), bright red blood. (Erig.).  Coryza with sneezing (Arg., Euphorb., Osm.), fever, thirst, restlessness.  Dry feeling in posterior nares. Distressing pressive pain at root of nose (Kali bi., Merc, iod., Natr. ars., Plat.).

Face. - Anxious frightened expression.  Hippocratie Face red and pale alternately; or one cheek red, the other pale (Cham.); face bloated and red (Bell., Op.).  Sensation of face grozving large or swelling. On rising the red face turns deadly pale (Verat. alb.).  Twitching.  Tingling. Numbness.  Involuntary closing of jaws with salivation.  Trismus, in paroxysms.  Rigidity.  Neuralgia of trigeminus, left side (Spig.); face red and hot; restlessness, anguish, and screaming.

Mouth.- Burning, tingling, and numbness of lips, mouth and tongue.  Dryness of mouth (Ailanth., Ars., Bry., Hyos., Nux.m.). Toothache from cold, or dry, cold winds, with throbbing on one side; cheeks red; congestion to head. Teeth sensitive to cold air (Spig.).  Bitter taste in the mouth (Bry., Coloc, Cinch., Nux v., Hep. s., Puls.).  Tongue coated white, or thick yellow white (Ant. crud., Bry., Merc, Nwx v.). Tongue swollen. Burning vesicles on tip of tongue.  Dry, rough feeling in middle of tongue.  Copious flow of saliva (Cinch., Merc, iod., Nitr. ac).

Throat. - Burning and numbness in throat (Caps.).  Redness of soft palate and uvula (Bell. ) ; burning ; dryness; constriction.  Fauces and pharynx dark-red (Bapt.), stinging and burning (Apis), swelling of tonsils.  Stitches in back part of throat, causing frequent swallowing. Feeling of dryness, as if something had stuck in the throat (Alum., Hep. s., Nitr. ac).

Stomach. - No appetite; loathing of food (Ant. crud., Arn., Ars.). Burning unquenchable thirst (Ars., Bry., Cinch., Merc., Natr. mur., Rhus tox.). Desire for beer (Cocc, Sulph.), wine (Bry., Cinch.), or brandy (Puls.).  oGastric catarrh from drinking ice-water while overheated.  Painful hiccough (Hyos., Nux v., Stram.).  Vomiting of lumbrici (Sang.); of bile (Ars., Podo.); of green masses of mucus (Ant. tart., Ipec) ; of what has been drunk (Ars., Phos.).  Vomiting, with anxiety, heat, thirst, profuse sweat, and increased micturition.  Anxious pulsation in pit of stomach, with shooting pain.  Pressure in pit of stomach as from a weight or stone (Aesc, Ars., Bry., Nux v., Puls.).  Burning from stomach up through the oesophagus to the mouth (Ars.).  Region of stomach sensitive to touch.

Abdomen. - Pressive pain as from a weight in hypochondria; constriction, or stitches in hepatic region hindering respiration. (Ars., Bry., Cinch., Kali carb.).  Abdomen swollen, burning hot and sensitive to the touch (Bell., Cupr.). Meteorism (Phos. ac), vomiting, inability to urinate. Burning and cutting in the intestines, worse from pressure or lying on the right side.  Pain in the hepatic region hindering deep breathing (Bry., Iod.).  Fullness and weight in hypochondria.  Pain in hypogastrium as from a flatulent purgative.

Stool.- Watery (Ant. crud., Ars., Cinch., Podo.), white, with red urine; like chopped herbs in summer complaint; black, fetid (Ars.), bloody, and slimy, scanty, loose, frequent, with tenesmus. Bleeding haemorrhoids (Ham., Nitr. ac), burning and heat in hemorrhoidal vessels (Aesc, Sulph.). Intolerable nightly tingling and itching at the anus, from seat worms (Ars., Cina, Graph.).

Urinary Organs. - Painful, anxious urging to urinate (Borax). Micturition painful, difficult, drop by drop; urine scanty, fiery, scalding-hot, red or dark-colored (Apis, Ars., Bell., Canth.). Urine deposits blood.  Burning in fossa navicularis (Petros.).  Retention or suppression of urine (Apis, Hyos., Strain.), with pressure in the bladder, or stitches in the region of the kidneys ; oretention from cold, especially in children, with crying and restlessness.

Male Organs.- Bruised pain in testicles (Arg., Arn.). Testicles swollen and hard (Agnus, Aur., Con. mac).

Female Organs. - Menses suppressed from fright (Lyc), vexation ; cold ; especially in plethoric women.  oActive uterine haemorrhage (Erig., Ham., Sec, Ipec.) ; much excitability; giddy; cannot sit up; fear of death. Vagina dry, hot, and; sensitive (Bell.).  oSuppressed lochia (Cimic.) ; skin hot and dry; milk scanty ; abdomen inflated and sensitive (Bell.).  oOvaritis from suddenly checked, menstrual flow (Cimic).  oImpending abortion from fright or vexation.

Respiratory Organs. - Hoarseness (Bell., Caust., Kali b., Iodi., Phos., Spong.), weak voice. Larynx sensitive to touch (Lach.) and to inspired air, as if denuded (Spong., Osm.). Laryngitis with inflammatory fever; also with suffocative spasms. oCroup, awakening in first sleep; agony, tossing about; dry short cough; after exposure to dry, cold winds (Hep. s., Spong.).  Cough dry, hoarse, loud (Spong.), spasmodic, rough; awakening with danger of suffocation (Lach.) ; dry, hard and ringing; from tickling in throat (Sang.). Child grasps its throat every time it coughs (Iodi.).  Expectoration of bright-red blood; of blood and mucus, with raw feeling behind the sternum; rusty (Phos.); thin, frothy, white mucus streaked with bright blood (Sulph.). Haemoptysis, the blood comes with an easy hawking, hemming or slight cough; anxiety, palpitation, quick pulse, stitches in chest (Bry., Kali carb., Phos.) ; ofrom excitement, wine or exposure to dry, cold air.  Cannot lie on the right side, but only on the back (Merc). Stitches in chest with cough (Bry., Kali carb., Merc, Phos.); on inspiration, (Bry.). Lancinating pains through the chest, with dry heat, difficult breathing; often violent chill.  Labored, anxious breathing; or quick and superficial; loud, stertorous, with open mouth.  oAgony; sits straight up; can hardly breathe; pulse thread-like (Ant. tart., Ars., Samb.); vomituritio; sweat with anxiety; swelling under short ribs; after scarlet fever. oOppression of the chest when moving- fast or ascending (Amm. carb., Ars., Calc.), in heart disease (Cact.).  Pressive weight and burning under the sternum .

Heart and Pulse.- Dreadful oppression and anxiety about the heart.  Palpitation (Cact., Calc), with great anxiety (Ars., Spig.), and restlessness; difficult breathing; confusion in head; flying heat in face; pressive pain in cardiac region.  Feeling of fullness; pulse hard and strong; contracted stitches in heart; constriction of the chest; oin pericarditis. Uncomplicated cardiac disease; especially with numbness in the left arm (Rhus tox.); tingling in fingers, and fainting.  Pulse strong, full, hard (Bell., Verat. vir.) oin fever; small, intermitting, irregular, oin asthma (Ars.); quick, hard, small, oin peritonitis; contracted, full, powerful, over one hundred per minute; quicker than beat of heart imperceptible, like a thread, with anxiety. (Ars.).

Neck and Back.- Tearing in nape of neck. Painful stiff neck, worse on moving neck; pain extending down to right shoulder (Gels.).  Bruised pain between the shoulders (Rhus tox.).  Drawing, tearing pain in the scapulae.  Stiffness of the back (Rhus tox.).  Numbness in small of back extending into the legs.  Pain in back prevents taking deep inspiration.

Upper Limbs.- Drawing, tearing pain in shoulder joint, elbow j oint, in the forearm, wrists and fingers. (Bry., Rhod., Rhus tox., Puls.).  Numbness of the left arm, can scarcely move the hand. Formication in the arms, hands, and fingers (Rhus tox.).  Arms hang powerless, as if paralyzed by blows.  Creeping in fingers, especially in writing.  Hands icy cold; cold sweat in palms.  Palms hot. Blueness of nails.

Lower Limbs. - Drawing, tearing pains in all the joints, and in the thigh. (Bry., Rhus, tox., Puis.): Tired feeling in lower limbs during repose (Rhus tox.).  Legs almost powerless after sitting; numbness (Rhus tox.).  Cramps in calves (Calc., Camph., Nux v., Sil., Sulph.).  Unsteadiness of the knees.  Coldness of the feet, particularly the toes.

Generalities.- Rheumatic inflammation of the joints; worse evening and night: intense bright-red, shining swelling of the parts; sensitive to least contact (Bry.). Lameness and numb feeling in the affected parts; pain intolerable; numbness and tingling in all parts. Great weariness and loss of strength (Cinch.). Faintness on attempting to sit up (Bry.). Very sensitive to the least draft of cold air (Cocc., Nux m.). Drawing, tearing pains here and there (Rhus, Puls.). Burning through all mucous membranes. Bruised pains in different parts (Arn).  Fine, stinging, or burning stinging pains in many parts. Body sensitive to touch; does not wish to be touched or moved.  Excessive restlessness and tossing about for several hours. (Ars.). Convulsions.  Most symptoms accompanied by shivering and anxiety.

Skin. - Red, shining, hot, swelling; violent pain (Bell., Bry.). Fine prickling as from needles here and there. Spots like flea-bites (Coni.); itching unchanged by scratching.  oRash of children; miliary; also in measles and scarlet fever (Apis, Bell., Puls.).

Sleep. - Sleeplessness after night, with great restlessness and tossing about (Abies can.). Anxious, vivid dreams, waking with a start (Ars., Bell., Hyos.).  Nightmare.

Fever. - Chilliness on slight movement, or from being uncovered or touched. Goose-flesh. Shivering ascends from the feet to the chest.  Chilliness towards evening, with thirst, hot head and face, red cheeks and outpressing headache (Bry.).  Shivering at night on lying down.  Heat with thirst, hard, full, and frequent pulse; anxious; impatient; inappeasable; beside himself; tossing about in agony.  Profuse hot sweat during sleep; cold or sour sweat.  Sweat after midnight, relieving all symptoms. Sweat on whichever cheek he lies.  oBad effect from suppressed sweat.

Aggravation.- In the evening and night; when lying on the (left) side, or on the back; after getting in bed; when rising ( Bry., Op., Dig.); in close room; from tobacco smoke (Ign.).

Amelioration. In the open air (Bry., Plat., Puls.); when sitting still (rheumatism); from wine; generally better while at rest, but during night in bed pains insupportable (Merc.); after sweat (Rhus.).

Conditions.- Especially applicable to plethoric persons, or those leading sedentary lives; dark hair and eyes; persons with rigid fibre.

Compare.- Arm, Ars., Bell., Bry., Cact., Camph., Canth., Cham., Cimic., Coff., Convalaria., Colch., Dig., Nux v., Puls., Spig., Sulph., Verat.

Antidotes. - Acetic ac, Paris, Sulph. To large doses ; free vomiting by emetics ; wine, vegetable acids, vinegar.  Abuse of Aconite calls for Sulph.

Aconite Antidotes.- Bell., Cham., Coff., Nux v., Sep., Sulph., Verat. alb.



Aconite is most often useful in those diseases where the so- called antiphlogistic treatment - blood letting, etc. - would be the common practice.  In sthenic or purely inflammatory fever in the first stage, before localization, eruption or exudation has taken place (when the latter is about to occur or has just occurred, Bry., Gels.; after it has occurred, Apis, Ars., Iod., Merc. Phos., Bhus, Sang., etc.). Aconite is never indicated unless there be present great anxiety and restlessness.  If the patient is quiet and apathetic Aconite is not the remedy. (In such cases if there is strong arterial excitement, full hard pulse, Verat. vir.; less violence, soft pulse, Gels.). Aconite is also indicated in the chilly stage, before the febrile stage is developed, often inducing a critical sweat and aborting the attack. Aconite produces no alteration in the quality of the blood, therefore it is never indicated in fevers of a malarial or septic character. Aconite is especially useful in the first or inflammatory stage of respiratory diseases, - bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy and all respiratory catarrhs. It is the remedy for croup, either catarrhal or membranous, when the attack has been caused by exposure to dry, cold northwest winds, the symptoms agreeing.  Haemoptysis. Bespiratory troubles arising from suppressing a profuse perspiration. Aconite is often indicated in the first stage of meningitis, not tubercular, but when arising from exposure to the sun's rays, or from fright or anger; peritonitis; metritis; cystitis; hepatitis; enteritis; glossitis. In rheumatism. In pericarditis, endocarditis and angina pectoris; also in uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart with numbness of the left arm and tingling in the fingers. In measles and miliary fever; also in children's diseases, with a hot dry fever, and great restlessness. Useful in catarrhal conjunctivitis when resulting from exposure to dry cold winds, from surgical operations or from a foreign body in the eye.  Neuralgia resulting from exposure to dry cold winds, with numbness and tingling. Supra orbital neuralgia with burning pains. Also useful in paralysis where numbness and tingling are present. Convulsions caused by intense excitement, fright or anger. 

Aconite is very useful in suppressed or painful menstruation resulting from fright or sudden exposure to cold.  In pregnancy it calms the emotions, overcomes unnatural fears, and prevents abortion from fright or excitement.  Milk fever and suppressed lochia with characteristic symptoms. Orchitis.  Aconite may also be used in many other diseased states as indicated in the foregoing pathogenesis, a high temperature, full pulse and great anxiety and restlessness, being the chief indications for its use in most instances.

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