So I am sure you have a lot of questions related to the poisonous aspects of Aconitum napellus, so here are my best answers to some of the most common ones:

How do people generally get poisoned?

The most common way is through improperly ingesting A. napellus for medicinal effects (link to herbal medicine), and it has also been reported from accidental ingestion, although this is not particularly common because the plant does in fact have very distinctive taste. The last common way people get infected is by accidental children interaction with the plant without the proper protection.

What dosage is needed for poisonous effects?

About 3mg of the plant for an adult is considered a deadly dose (or about 3/1000th the mass of a paper clip).

Where in world does this happen most often?

The most common cases are in places like India or Asia where the use of herbal medicine is more popular, but because of increased interest in homeopathic medicine in Europe and England it is slowly being reported more there too.

How rare is it?

There are really only a few cases of human poisoning by Aconitum napellus reported every year.

What is the most poisonous parts of the plant?

The root is consisted of .3-2% aconitine (poison) which means you would only have to ingest about .15g of the root to reach a deadly dosage. There is a 0.2-1.2%  aconite concentration in leaves which means .6g would be needed to kill a person. Lastly, there are 1-2% aconite in the actual seeds of the plant, which means that an adult only needs to take in about .15g of the seed to put themselves in an extremely bad position.

Can a person be poisoned get it even if he/she don’t eat the plant?

Yes! The poison can be absorbed through the mucous membranes or lipid membranes like the skin, so it is best to use gloves if you are even going to touch the plant.

What are the symptoms (and timeline) of poisoning?

In a case study done by Ravi Puella called "A case of fatal Aconitine poisoning by Monkshood ingestion." The victim in question ate the plant, had nausea and abdominal pain 2.5 hours later; at 3 hours he was throwing up profusely, and at 3.75 hours he collapsed and dead with massive intrapulmonary hemorrhage and edema. To read more on this article click here. Other symptoms include burning and tingling feelings in your fingers and toes, hot and cold flashes involving both sweating and shivering, tachycardia, nausea, abdominal pain, respiratory paralysis, and eventually ventricular dysrhythmia and paralysis, which may lead to death.  

What kind of treatment is available?

Magnesium can be used to help combat the heart arrhythmias  which are a common and often fatal result of aconite poisoning. A heart arrhythmia is when a person’s heart is beating randomly rather than normal steady pace.

What is the poison in A. napellus exactly, and what is its general structure?

 The main poisons in Aconitum napellus are two alkaloids aconitine and its homolog, mesaconitine. Alkaloids are defined as naturally occurring cyclic organic compounds with nitrogen in a negative nitrogen state. The aconitine and mesaconitine compounds have a special ester group (special ordering of elements) that is available to bind to other areas. This ester group is what helps to give both aconitine and mesaconitine their poisonous capabilities as a neurotoxin, because this is what provides compounds with the ability to bind to the Na+ protein channel and throw off the entire nervous pathway of an animal.

How does aconite cause the effects and symptoms that it does?

Basically, the ester group of the compound binds to part of the sodium channels in neurons (nerve cells that send our nervous signals through the use of electric potentials), causing the channel to open. This allows the neuron to depolarize (exciting the neuron) and pass down a signal, then, once the signal is sent, the aconite also keeps the channels from closing which makes it nearly impossible to repolarize the membrane so that new signals can be sent. This effect is what also gives the plant the ability to be a painkiller by blocking any potential pain signals from the brain.

What should you know to prevent being poisoned yourself?

Be careful not to eat plants you don’t know in nature, and read up on herbal medicines before you take them!  

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