Aconite root is the dried, full-grown, daughter root of Aconitum Napellus, Linn. (N.O. Ranunculaceae), cultivated in England. It is official in the U.S.P. as Aconitum, and must there contain at least 0.5 per cent. of aconitine. It is freed from rootlets and dried, either entire, or longitudinally sliced. The root is 5 to 10 centimetres in length, tapering in shape, and of a dark brownish colour. It should be crowned with the remains of a bud, and exhibit when broken a starchy fracture. It has no odour, but slowly develops, when cautiously chewed, a very characteristic numbing taste. The transverse section exhibits a narrow cortex, containing scattered sclerenchymatous cells, a wide parenchymatous bast-ring devoid of bast-fibres, a stellate cambium in the angles of which fibrovascular bundles are situated, and a wood consisting chiefly of thin-walled parenchyma. The cells contain numerous starch grains, but no calcium oxalate. On incineration, the drug yields about 5 per cent. of ash. Aconite root is liable to attack by insects, and should be well dried and kept in securely closed vessels. Much of the aconite root at present in commerce is imported from Germany, and consists of the dried parent root of the flowering plants. It may be recognised by the remains of the aerial stem which crown the root; it is also generally less starchy, darker internally, and more shrivelled than English root, and is considered to be less active. The Brussels Conference agreed that the dried root of the year should be employed exclusively, and that the powder should consist of the entire drug. Japanese aconite root is said to be obtained from A. Fischeri, Reich., but this statement needs confirmation; the root is easily distinguished by its dark greyish colour, smaller size, smoother surface, and circular cambium; it contains japaconitine (acetyl-benzoyl-japaconine), which has an action similar to, but rather more powerful than, that of aconitine. Indian (Nepaul) aconite (bikh or bish) consists of the roots of Aconitum laciniatum, Stapf.; their large size and less tapering character sufficiently distinguish them from the official drug. It contains pseudaconitine (acetyl-veratroyl-pseudaconine), which is about twice as active as aconitine.
Constituents.—Aconite root contains three alkaloids, viz., aconitine, picraconitine, and aconine, but it is to the first named only that the toxic action of the root is due. The total amount of alkaloid present varies in good roots from 0.2 to 1.5 per cent., the greater portion of which is probably aconitine. Other constituents are starch and aconitic acid.
Action and Uses.—The properties of aconite root are virtually those of aconitine. For internal use, the tincture is employed well diluted, as a mild diaphoretic, to reduce the feverishness of common colds, and in the early stages of such local inflammations as pneumonia, tonsillitis, quinsy, and laryngitis, also in croup, bronchitis, and asthma due to exposure. Very small doses frequently repeated are preferred to full doses to diminish the frequency of the pulse. Preparations of aconite are not usually given when there is cardiac disease, but it is used as a sedative in pericarditis and palpitation of the heart. Externally, liniment, compound liniment, and chloroform of aconite are used as anodynes in neuralgia and acute rheumatism. A strong tincture is prepared for external application, and is used with an equal quantity of strong solution of iodine to paint the gums in dental periostitis. Aconite plasters are prepared in rubber combination. Preparations of aconite should not be used on abraded surfaces, on account of the danger of absorption. All preparations of aconitine must be used with great care, because of the extremely poisonous nature of the alkaloid. In cases of poisoning by aconite, an emetic of mustard, zinc sulphate, ipecacuanha wine, or apomorphine, 1/10 grain hypodermically, should be employed, followed by stimulants, and atropine and digitalis have been recommended. The patient should be kept lying down and warmth applied.
Dose.—3 to 12 centigrams (1 to 2 grains).
- Chloroformum Aconiti, B.P.C.—CHLOROFORM OF ACONITE. 1 in 1.
- Painted on the unbroken skin with a camel-hair brush to relieve neuralgia. It is more prompt and effective than liniment of aconite.
- Fluidextractum Aconiti, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF ACONITE.
- This preparation is made by exhausting aconite root, in No. 60 powder, with 93 per cent. alcohol mixed with one-third its volume of water, and adjusting the strength of the product so that it shall contain 0.4 per cent. w/v of aconitine. Average dose.—5 centimils (0.05 milliliters) (1 minim).
- Linimentum Aconiti, B.P.—LINIMENT OF ACONITE.
- Aconite root, in No. 40 powder, 20; camphor, 1; alcohol, sufficient to produce 30. Employed as an anodyne in chronic rheumatism, neuralgia, and sciatica. It may be painted on with a camel-hair brush, or diluted with soap liniment and rubbed on with the finger, or applied on impermeable piline.
- Linimentum Aconiti Compositum, B.P.C.—COMPOUND LINIMENT OF ACONITE. Syn.—A.B.C. Liniment.
- Liniment of aconite, 2; liniment of belladonna, 2; chloroform, 1. This is an improvement upon the forms of A.B.C. liniment containing oil. Its properties and methods of use are similar to those of Linimentum Aconiti.
- Linimentum Aconiti et Chloroformi, B.P.C.—LINIMENT OF ACONITE AND CHLOROFORM.
- Chloroform, 1; liniment of aconite, 7. The properties of this liniment and its methods of use are similar to those of Linimentum Aconiti.
- Pastillus Aconiti, B.P.C.—ACONITE PASTILLE.
- Each pastille contains tincture of aconite, 1 minim. Used in tonsillitis and laryngitis. The pastilles should not be administered too freely.
- Tinctura Aconiti, B.P.—TINCTURE OF ACONITE.
- Aconite root, in, No. 40 powder, 5; alcohol (70 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Dose.—3 to 10 decimils (0.3 to 1 milliliters) (5 to 15 minims); if very frequently repeated, 1 to 3 decimils (0.1 to 0.3 milliliters) (2 to 5 minims).
- Tinctura Aconiti, P.I.—TINCTURE OF ACONITE, P.I.
- Prepared by percolation with alcohol (70 per cent.) and standardised to contain 0.05 per cent. of total alkaloids.
- Tinctura Aconiti, U.S.P.—TINCTURE OF ACONITE, U.S.P.
- Aconite, U.S.P., in No. 60 powder, 10; alcohol (66 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. This preparation contains 0.045 per cent. w/v of aconitine. Average dose.—6 decimils (0.6 milliliters) (10 minims).
- Tinctura Aconiti Fortis, B.P.C.—STRONG TINCTURE OF ACONITE. Syn.—Fleming's Tincture of Aconite. 7 in 10.
- Used as a local anodyne for the gums, usually mixed with strong solution of iodine. Caution.—An extremely powerful preparation.
- Tinctura Aconiti (Turnbull).—TURNBULL'S TINCTURE OF ACONITE.
- Aconite root, 15; rectified spirit, 40. Used similarly to Strong Tincture of Aconite, B.P.C. Caution.—An extremely powerful preparation; death has occurred from merely tasting this tincture.
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.