Aconitum napellus (Vatsanaabha) Medicinal uses, Morphology, Images,Side effects, Pharmacology

Botanical Name: Aconitum napellus L.

Family: Ranunculaceae.



Aconite, common name for certain perennial herbs and for a preparation derived from them that was formerly used in medicine. More than 100 species belong to the aconite genus and are native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Vatsanabhi is known to the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia since very early times. The herb Visa is delineated in Atharvaveda and Brãhmana granthas. The utility of Vatsanãbhi definitely increased after the development of Rasa sãstra.

                    Aconite is a Greek word meaning arrow (Acron). The arrows were coated with this poison and used. Hence the name aconite. it was used as an arrow poison early in Chinese history’. Aconite is one of the oldest known drugs and is of two different kinds viz., poisonous and non-poisonous. Among the poisonous varieties both A. ferox and A. Chasmanthum are used as Vatsanãbhi/Visa in India



Names in different Indian languages



Indian Aconite, Wolfsbane,



Bachnag, mithavis








Vasanaavi, Karunaabhi.




Bish, Bishnaag.








Visha,Amrita, Vajraanga, Sthaavaravisha, Vatsanaagaka, Shrangikavisha, Garala , Amrtam, Ugra Visa, Garalam, Nãgam, Nãbhi, Prãna haram, Maranam, Mahousadham, Visam, Stokakam, Sthavaradyam, Vatsanagam.


Classification according to Charaka, Susrutha & Vagbhata



Sthãvara Visas


Kanda Visas






Varieties & adulterants - (CV – controversy, AD – adulterants) 

  1. A. luridum

  2. A. chasmanthum - [AD] – sringi visha [CV]

  3. A. violaceum

  4. A. heterophyllum   - prativisa -[CV]

  5. A. palmatum

  6. A. deinorrhizum

  7. A. balfouri

  8. A. spicatum
  9. A. laciniatum

  10. A. napellus – used in unani, Chinese & homeopathy

  11. A. falconeri

12. A. elwasii

  1. A. lethale
  2. A.columbianum


Aconitum napellus 'Albidum'










Pãndu Varna




Rakta Vania

Deha puti kar:



Pita Varna




Krsna Varna

Dhãtu karma






It is a perennial herb.


A herb indigenous to the temperate alpine Himalayas, where it grows in abundance.


 Roots— biennial tuberous,


Stem— erect, 60-90 cm height, finely pubescent in the upper part.


 Leaves— scattered, basal 5-6, upper leaves upto 10, reniform, petioles slender, 5-pedatipartite.


Inflorescence— loose racemes, sepals blue, hairy, uppermost helmet shaped. Fruits— oblong, conspicuously reticulate , seeds obovoid to obpyramidal.

Fruits— carpels 5, tomentose; follicles oblong, 15-20 mm long and 4-5 mm. broad; seeds obovoid to obpyramidal, 2.6-3 mm. long, winged along with the raphe.

Distribution & Habitat

Sub-alpine and alpine zones of western Himalayas at an altitude of 7000-12000 ft.


Chemical constituents:

 Neoline,aconitjne , atisine chloride and isoatisine a diterpene- l5a- hydroxyneoline, aconosine, l4-acetylncoline, hokbusine A, senbusjne A & C, aconitine and mesaconitine, chasmaconitine, indaconitine,veratroyl pseudoaconitine and diacetyl pseudoaconitine ,alkaloids-2- (lH)- quinolinone and 3,4- dihydro-6- hydroxy2(1H)quinolone, diterpenoid alkaloid , acetylsenbusjne A; Vakognavine, Chasmaconitine, crassicauline A, falconerjcjne, bikhaconine, pseudoaconine, neoline, senbusjne A,



Rasa -             Madhura


Guna -             Laghu, RUksa, Tiksna, Vyavãyi, Vikãsi

Virya -             Usna

Vipaka -               Katu

Karma              - Vatakaphahara, Jvarahara, Jangama visahara,

                               Madakãri, Kuhaghna

Narcotic, sedative, antileprotic, anti-inflammatory, Extremely poisonous.


Prabhãva        – Rasãyana



 Dosha ; Kapha, vatavaha

organ : liver, spleen. medya, rasayan.

Mala Urine, sweat, saliva.




Diabetes, gout, paralysis, cephalgia, asthma, colic, hypotension


Jvara (Sannpãta Javara mainly). Jangama Visa, Kustha, Madhumeha, Svãsa-kãsa, otha, Plihodara, Agnimändya, Vãta rogas etc.


(i) 3 months administration - cures all the eight major types of Kustha.

(ii) 6 months administration - improves complexion etc. (cosmetic purpose)

(iii)12 months administration - cures all diseases


Part used:

  The tuberous root is medicinally used in various preparations. Both the ancient and modern descriptions indicate that the collection of root is preferred during winter



In Rasa Ratna Samuccaya—

1st day

2-4 days

5-7 days

9th day onwards


-0          1Sarapa

- 2 Sarsapa

- 3 Sarapa

1 Sarapa quantity days till it reaches Ratti (120 mg). increased for every a maximum dose of




In Ayurveda Prakãa—



1st daya            I Sarapa

2-7 days -         I Sarsapa quantity increased per day

8-14 days -      I Sarsapa quantity tappering per day

3rd week -       I Sarapa quantity increase per day

4th week -       I Sarsapa quantity reduced per day



The maximum dose of Vatsanãbhi may be 8 Yavas only.


They are—


1st stage (Prathama- vega) - Tvak vikãra (skin changes)

2nd stage (Dvitiya- vega) - Vepathu (tremers)

3rd stage (Trtiya- vega) - Dãha (burning allover the body)

4th stage (Caturtha- vega) - Vikrtãvastha

5th stage (Pañcama- vega) - Phenodgama (bubbles from mouth)

6th stage (aama- vega) - Skandha bhanga (drooping of shoulders)

7th stage (Saptama- vega) - Jadatã (comatose)

8th stage (Asama- vega) - Marana (death)


Toxic effects and Anti-dotes.

Susruta , father of surgery clearly documented the toxic effects of Vatsanãbhi viz., Grivasthambha (torticollis) and Pita VitMütra-Netratva (deep yellowish discoloration of stools, urine & conjunctiva)’. Rasa Vagbhata enumerated the eight stages (Asta- vegas) of aconite poisoning and described the symptoms as well.



 Accidental poisoning or over dosage with aconite may produce the above symptoms. Different anti-dosage been mentioned for the management. It is very specifically mentioned by Rasa Vagbhata that the treatment is possible upto 5-7 Vegas only3. First Vamana (Vomiting) shall be induced followed by Lepa or Kvãtha or Añjana of Viaghna gaa (Ra.Ra.Sa.)4 Cow’s ghee is considered as one of the best anti-dotes for visa.

Marked general fatigueless is experienced in the muscles and oppression in the chest. Death finally occurs due to paralysis of heart or respiratory centers or even both.


Fatal Dose— 1-2 gm of root or 4-6 mg of aconitine Fatal Period— 3-6 hours



  1. Gastric lavage with warm water and weak solution of potassiun permanganate or with a solution of iodine in potassium iodide or with tannic acid or strong coffee or strong tea to precipitate the alkaloid.


  1. Powdered charcoal to diminish solubility.


  1. Atropine 0.5-1 mg is useful


  1. Strychnine, artificial respiration, application of heat etc. may also be useful.


  1. Symptomatic treatment.




Purification (Sodhana)


Though there is no reference about the purification of

Vatsanãbhi among the major classics, the tuberous roots of aconite are treated in several ways before oral administration. Probably, Rasa sãstra might have laid emphasis on its Sodhana in the ancient days. It is mentioned that impure form of Via (Vatsanãbhi) may produce Dãlha (burning), Moha (inebrient state), cardiac depressant and death (Maranna) eventually. Therefore purification is essential. There are several methods for purification’.


Some of them are—


  1. Aconite root is cut into pieces and tied in a cloth. Then it is soaked in cow’s urine for three days by changing cows urine every day .Afterwards the pieces are shade dried. Some people advocate application of mustard oil over the root pieces after purification.



  1. Purification may be done by means of boiling (Svedana) the aconite roots in cow’s urine for 3-6 hours in Dolã Yañtra.



  1. Aconite roots may also be boiled in the similar fashion either by using Triphalä Kvãtha (decoction prepared by using three myrobalans) or by using Ajja ksira (goat’s milk). If goat milk is not available then cow’s milk is acceptable.



  1. Aconite tubers may be kept in the buffalo exereta and boiled for 3 hours.



  1. Some consider that even boiling aconite in ordinary water for three hours may purify it.


External uses Application reduces pain and inflammation. It is applied after rubbing it with oil. On massaging, it stimulates the tip of sensory nerve fibres after which it produces tingling and numbness. It is absorbed faster through mucous membranes.

Internal uses 

Nervous system It has no special effect on the brain. As it is avayi and vikasi and stimulates the tip of the nerve fibres, it ads as a depressant. It acts on motor nervous system also as a vasoconstrictors and above alt on the vagus and respiratory system.

Digestive system When it comes in contact with tongue it produces a tingling sensation initially then numbness, nausea and excessive salivation. In therapeutic doses it acts as an appetizer, deepen, packers and reduces pain, parasthesia of stomach. It reduces gastric secretions and reduces kapha.. It is a hepatostimulant.

 Circulatory system Impure Vatsanabhi has a depressant effect on the. heart whereas purified Vatsanabhi acts as a cardio stimulant by its ‘ayavayi and vikasi properties. This cardio stimulant property is enhanced if it is purified in cows milk. Vatsanabhi is used to alleviate oedema of any type.


Respiratory system Kaphaghna. In small dose, it stimulates the respiratory system. ‘t is useful in the pleurisies and pneumonitis

Urinary system Diuretic and reduces urinary calculi.

Reproductive system it is shukra stambhak and is useful to amenorrhoea.

 Satmikaran In very small dose, it is balya and nutritious (madhur rasa and madhur vipak.

Skin Kushthaghna, diaphoretic.

Temperature In jwara, it is the best medicine. Excretion It is chiefly excreted through the urine, saliva, bile and sweat.



Important Yogas  or  Formations:

 Ananda Bhairava Rasa; Amrtã Rasãyana; Hingulesvara Rasa;

Aiñdri Rasayana; Jvara murari; Jayã Vati; Kaphaketu Rasa;

Mrityunjaya Rasa; Pañcãmrta Rasa; Pañcavaktra Rasa; Rãmabãna

Rasa; Saubhãgya Vatika; Siratandava Rasa; Tribhuvana Kirti Rasa;

Vãta Vidhvamsani Rasa; Visa Rasãyana; Visa Taila.             



Therapeutic Uses:

(1) Treatment of inflammatory oedema.



(2) Vriscika Visa (scorpion poison) — Vatsanãbhi root paste is applied at the site of scorpion sting


(3) Sukrameha— Its oral administration controls spermatorrhoea and incontinance of urine

(4) Lepa— The root in the form of lepa (liniment or paste) is spread upon the skin in cases of neuralgia and muscular rheumatism, acute and chronic itching as in erythema; in nasal catarrh, tonsillitis, sore-throat,  acute gout


Descriptions on  Ayurveda books / Nighandu:












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