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Botanical Name:Aconitum ferox
Species: A. ferox
Syn: Aconitum virosum Don., A. napellus var. rigidum Hook, f & T.
English names: Wolf’s bane, Indian aconite.
Sanskrit names: Vatsanabha, Visa.
Vernacular names: Hin: Bish, Mahoor; Guj and Mar: Vachang; Kas: Mohra; Tam: Vasnumbi; Tel: Vasnabhi.
Trade name: Bish.
Genus : Aconitum
Species: A. ferox
Habitat : E. Asia – Himalayas. Shrubberies and forest clearings, 2100 – 3600 metres from C. Nepal to Bhutan.Abundant at Sandakphu, which is the highest point of the Darjeeling Hills in the Indian State of West Bengal.Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade;
A deciduous perennial that grows up to 1.0 metre tall by 0.5 metres wide and which favours many types of soil. They are handsome plants with the tall and erect stem crowned by racemes of large eye-catching blue, purple, white, yellow or pink zygomorphic flowers with numerous stamens. They are distinguished by having one of the five petaloid sepals (the posterior one), called the galea, in the form of a cylindrical helmet; hence the English name monkshood. There are 2-10 petals, in the form of [nectary|nectaries]. The two upper petals are large. They are placed under the hood of the calyx and are supported on long stalks.
It’s roots look like the navel of children; leaves alternate, simple, rounded or oval, may be palmately 5-lobed; flowers borne on branched racemes, bracts and bracteoles present, large helmet-type, helmet vaulted with short sharp beak, pale dirty blue in colour, zygomorphic, floral parts arranged spirally on an elongated receptacle; follicles erect, usually densely villose-sometimes glabrous.
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from August to September. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Grows well in open woodlands. The root of this plant is widely collected from the wild for medicinal use and is becoming much rarer in much of its range. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes. Closely related to A. napellus.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. 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. 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.
Constituents: It is from “Aconitum ferox” that the well known Indian poison bikh, bish, or nabee is produced. It contains large quantities of the alkaloid pseudaconitine, which is a deadly poison. Aconite was often used as an ingredient in the psychoactive drugs prepared by the descendants of Hecate (the Greek goddess of sorcery and witchcraft). It was also used in European witchcraft ointments and has been used by poisoners.
Root: pseudoaconitine (a toxic alkaloid), indactonitine, chasmaconitine, bikhaconitine.
The dried root is alterative, anaesthetic, antiarthritic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative, stimulant. It is best harvested in the autumn as soon as the plant dies down. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It has been used in India and Nepal in the treatment of neuralgia, leprosy, fevers, cholera and rheumatism. When the roots are soaked in cow’s urine, they become soft and lose their depressant action on the heart, becoming a stimulant instead.
Traditional use: AYURVEDA : Root: used in the mrityunjaya rasa (used to treat the fever supposed to be caused by deranged vayu, i.e., wind, sannipatika jvara, i.e., remittent fever, hingulesware-rasa, anandabhairav agnitundi vati, etc.
Vatsanabha has been used in medicine from a very remote period. It is regarded as healing and stimulant. It is used in a great variety of affections, but is specially recommended in fever, cephalagia, affections of throat, dyspepsia and rheumatism. HOMOEOPATHY: remedy for clotting of blood in heart or in lungs, pneumonia, Iymptisis, pleurisy, eye trouble, earache, toothache and urinary trouble.
Modern use: Extremely poisonous; used in leprosy, fever, cholera, nasal catarrah, tonsillitis, sore throat, gastric disorders, debility, etc., also used as a sedative and diaphoretic; applied in the form of paste in cases of neuralgia and rheumatism.
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