Indian aconite (Vatsanabhi) Also known as Monk's hood is a very poisonous medicinal plant. Scientific name - Aconituum heterophyllum wall
. Ayurveda considers Vatsanabhi as one of the seven poisons. Purified and controlled, the drug is used in ayurveda, homeopathy, and folk medicine, as well as in aconite allopathic extracts. Extremely toxic, it should be used only as a cleanser.
It is very difficult to distinguish Indian aconite from other similar genera. There is also controversy over what kind of plant Indian aconite actually is. The early Ayurvedic teachers like Charakan and Sushruta and the later teachers like Bhavamishran and Vagbhadan had different views. Similarly, modern physicians such as Chunaker and Nadkarni have different perspectives on the roots of aconite Naples, aconite chasmatam, and aconite heterophyllum. The species, industrially known as Indian Extravagant, is a hybrid of two or three species.
. Scientific information on the plant was collected from various sources, such as electronic sources (Google scholar, Pubmed) and some old classical text books of Ayurveda and Ethnopharmacology. The study also presents a review of the literature on A. Heterophyllum
, as well as the primary pharmacological and other important findings on this medicine. This review article should provide useful information to and be a valuable tool for new researchers who are initiating studies on the plant A. Heterophyllum
The roots of Indian aconite appears whitish grey in color and are 2.0 – 7.5 cm long and 0.4 – 1.6 cm or more thick at their upper extremities, decreasing in thickness towards a tapered end. Stems are simple and branched, 15 – 20 cm in height, and green in color. Indian aconite is a small plant with a straight stem, but sometimes occurs with branches. It is a tree that has blue or yellow flowers from August to September. The leaves of this herb are a heteromorphous dark green in color. The upper parts of the leaves are amplexicaul, and the lowest parts of the leaves are long petioles. The plant has have a spiral (alternate) arrangement.
Indian aconite has various medicinal uses. It is reported to have antidiarrheal activity when taken with fine powder of dry ginger, Beel (Bellpetra in India) fruit, or Nutmeg (jaiphal in India). The juice of the root when taken with milk acts as an expectorant. The seeds are used as a diuretic. Furthermore, the plant is used to treat patients with reproductive disorders and is known to have hepatoprotective, antipyretic and analgesic, antioxidant, alexipharmic, anodyne, anti-atrabilious, anti-flatulent, anti-periodic, anti-phlegmatic, and carminative properties.
For very ancient times, this plant has been used in some formulations in the traditional healing system of India, i.e., Ayurveda. It is reported to have use in treating patients with urinary infections, diarrhea, and inflammation. It also has been used as an expectorant and for the promotion of hepatoprotective activity. The chemical studies of the plant have revealed that various parts of the plant contain alkaloids, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, saponins, glycosides, quinones, flavonoids, terpenoids, etc. In the present study, a comprehensive phytochemistry and pharmacognosy, as well as the medicinal properties, of A. Heterophyllum