Ayur Herbs


Botanical Name—Aconitum ferox Wall


 Scientific classification: Aconites belong to the family Ranunculaceae. The helmet flower is classified as Aconitum napellus.


Amrtam, Ugra Visa, Garalam, Nãgam, Nãbhi, Prãna haram, Maranam, Mahousadham, Visam, Stokakam, Sthavaradyam; Vatsanagam.

 Names in different languages

Assami : Vish; Bengali -Kathvish Mitha vish; Bihari- Dakara; English : Monk’s hood,Aconite; Gujarati : Basnag, Bachnag, Chingadiyo;Hindi : Bachnag, Mitha vish, Mitha Teliya, Teliya vish; Kannàd : Nasnabhi, Malayalam Vatsanabhi; Marathi Bachnag; Punjabi Mohari, ShyamMohari; Tamil: Vasanasi; Telugu : Nabhi.

 Classification according to Caraka, Susruta & Vagbhata


Sthãvara Visas


Kanda Visas




                     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.

 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
13. A. lethale

14. A.columbianum


  Variety Colour Property
14. Brãhmana Pãndu Varna Rasãyana
15 Ksatriya Rakta Vania Deha puti kar:
16 Vaisya Pita Varna Kuthaghna
17 sudra Krsna Varna Dhãtu karma


(i) Aconitum ferox Wall ex. Seringe—

 It is a perennial herb.

Roots— paired; daughter-tuber ovoid- oblong to ellipsoid, 2.5-4 cm long, about 1-1.5 cm thick, with filiform root-fibres, lark brown externally, yellowish on fracture; another-tuber much shrunk and wrinkled with more numerous root-fibres.

Stem— erect, with or without a slender, hypogynous base, simple, 40-90 cm high, covered with short spreading yellow hairs in the upper part and glabrous below.

Leaves— scattered, distant, glabrous; petioles slender upto 25cm; blade orbicular-cordate to reniform in outline with a rather wide sinus; palmately 5-lobed.

Inflorescence— peduncle straight, bearing flowers on both sides; flowers pale dirty blue, borne in a dense terminal raceme, 10-25 cm long; helmet-vaulted with a short sharp beak, resembling a pea flower.

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

Grows wild in the alpine Himalayas, Kashmir at an altitude of 3,600 m; alpine Himalayas of Nepal.

 (ii)Aconitum Chasmanthum

           Biennial herb

roots paired, tuberous 2.5-3.5 cm, 12-18 mm. thick, bearing more or

less numerous root-fibres leaving behind the indurated bases when breaking off, dark brown to blackish brown, smooth or wrinkled when dry, fracture cartilaginous, hard, white with in the cambium ring.

Stem— evect, simple inclusive of the inflorescence, 60-120 cm high, and crispopubescent above, glabrous below.

Leaves— numerous, petioles in the lower part of stem upto 7.5 cm long, the upper petioles shortly petioled or subsessile.


Inflorescence— long, narrows, stiff, dense or loose raceme, 30 cm long, often leafy below; rachis stout; pedicles slender.

Flowers blue or whitish and variegated with blue, crispo-pubescent or almost glabrous; uppermost helmet- shaped, 15-20 mm high, 12-18 mm long from the tip to base, 5- 7 mm wide, lateral margin conspicuously concave.

Fruits— carpels 5; follicles oblong, truncate 10-16 mm long; seeds brown, ovoid to obpyramidal, 3-5 mm long, unequally 3vinged.


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

iii) Aconitum napellus—
              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 follicks, seeds obovoid to obpyramidal.

Chemical Constituents

 The roots of A. chasmanthum (10 times) and A. ferox (2
times) are richer in alkaloids than those of A. napellus. The alkaloids of A. chasmenthum are less potent (0.7 times) and of A. ferox more potent (1.5 times) than those of A. napellus, A. ferox is specially recommended for wider use on account of its more common occurance, easier identification, and the higher crystallising power of its alkaloid (about 80% being crystallisable).

(i) A. ferox—

 Roots contain toxic alkaloids, pseudoaconitine along with
bikhaconitine, 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, neoline, senbusine B, isotalatizodjne and aconine are reported (Phytochem, 1994, 36,1527). Four lipoakaloids viz., liposeudo aconitine, lipoyunaconitine, lipojndaconitjne and lipobikhaconjtjne and four aconine viz., veratroylpseudaconjne anisoylyunaconine, benzoyljndaconjne and veratroylbikhaconine

(ii)A. chasmanthum

Indaconitine,A & B; chasmaconitine and chasmanthinine ,chasmanine

 (iii) A. napelius—
Neoline,aconitjne , atisine chloride and isoatisine a diterpene- l5a- hydroxyneoline, aconosine, l4-acetylncoline, hokbusine A, senbusjne A & C, aconitine and mesaconitine .



Rasa –             Madhura

Guna –             Laghu, RUksa, Tiksna, Vyavãyi, Vikãsi
Virya –             Usna
Vipaka –               Katu
Karma              – Vatakaphahara, Jvarahara, Jangama visahara,
                               Madakãri, Kuhaghna

Prabhãva        – Rasãyana

 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.

Purification Small pieces of bachanag are kept in cow’s urine for 3 to 4 days. Then they are cleaned with fresh water and boiled in cow’s milk for 3 hours, By this process. ii gets purified.

Only purified hachanag must be used and in little quantity only. To reduce toxicity of toxins, large quantity of cow ghee roust be taken.


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 winter1.


P.V. Sharmaji prescribes 1/8 Ratti i.e; 15 mg (approx.) of
root powder and Vaidya Bapalal advocates 60-125 mg of root powder.
[*Note_ The former may indicate the impure form while the later indicates purified root].

 Rasa Ratna Samuccaya and Ayurveda Prakãa mentioned to increase gradually and tapering of Vatsanãbhi like Vardhamana Yogas.

They are—

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.

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.

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)


 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.

2. Powdered charcoal to diminish solubility.

3. Atropine 0.5-1 mg is useful

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

5. 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.

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

 3. 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.

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

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

 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.


 Dosha ; Kapha, vatavaha

organ : liver, spleen. medya, rasayan.
Mala Urine, sweat, saliva.

Important research work going on

1. Analgesic activity

2. cardiovascular

3. effects in adrenaline production

4.Action in Snake bite

 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

 (7) 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

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