Aconite (Aconite Carmichaeli / Fu Zhi)

What does the herb Aconite Carmichaeli do?

Aconite Carmichaeli is a Chinese Herb that is sometimes utilized when a patient has been diagnosed with Heart, Spleen, and/or Kidney yang deficiency with Wind-Cold- Damp painful obstruction. It works by warming the interior, restoring yang and expelling cold. It has been considered very helpful in unblocking and improving circulation. It is also used to alleviate pain. Symptoms that can be associated with depleted yang and weak yang Qi associated to the spleen, kidneys, and heart are: cold extremities, feeling faint, chills, diarrhea (with undigested food in stool), severe vomiting, and a weak or barely perceivable pulse.

Aconite is extremely toxic if taken incorrectly and it's use should to be monitored carefully by a health care professional (See Adverse effects).

Should my health care professional be advised before I take Aconite Carmichaeli?

It is always good to keep your health care practitioner updated on medications, herbals, supplements or other therapies you may be participating in. They should be consulted first if you have any of these conditions, as usage may be contraindicated:

  • If you are currently taking medications or other treatments for diarrhea and vomiting.
  • If you have diabetes mellitus (aconite may effect blood glucose levels).
  • If you have cardiovascular disease (can cause irregular heartbeat)
  • If you have low blood pressure or are taking blood pressure medicine (aconite may lower blood pressure).
  • If you are taking sedatives or sleeping medicines (may potentiate action)
  • If you are taking narcotics or opiates of any kind (may potentiate action)
  • If you are taking cardiac glycosides, diuretics, and/or corticosteroids.
  • A tendency towards allergic reactions to other medicines, herbs, foods, dyes, or preservatives.

Are there other times my health care professional needs to be advised before I take Aconite Carmichaeli?

They should be consulted first if you are:

  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant (usage contraindicated)
  • Breast-feeding (usage contraindicated)
  • If you plan to administer this herb to a child (not advised)

How should I take this herb?

Aconite Carmichaeli is usually taken in the form of a decoction.

What should the dosage be?

Dosages are usually based on the individual, severity of the symptoms and the type of problem.

See a qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine for appropriate dosages.

What other medicines may interact with Aconite Carmichaeli?

  • Aconite may potentiate certain medications and herbs.
  • Aconite may increase the absorption rate of certain drugs and herbs.
  • Aconite is reported to antagonize Scolopendra Subspinipes (Wu Gong).
  • Aconite is reported to counteract Cornu Rhinoceris ( Xi Jiao).
  • Aconite is reported to counteract Semen Phaseoli Radiati (Lu Duo).

When is Aconite Carmichaeli usage contraindicated?

  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a yin deficiency combined with true heat and illusionary cold.
  • If you are taking Bulbus Fritillariae (Bei Mu) - (traditionally contraindicated).
  • If you are taking Fructus Trichosanthis (Gua Lou) - (traditionally contraindicated).
  • If you are taking Rhizoma Bletillae Striatae (Bai Ji) - (traditionally contraindicated).
  • If you are taking Rhizoma Pinelliae Ternatae (Ban Xia) - (traditionally contraindicated).
  • If you are taking Radix Cynanchi Baiwei (Bai Wei) - (traditionally contraindicated).

What are side effects of Aconite Carmichaeli?

If you experience any uncomfortable side effects, stop usage immediately and report them to your health care professional.The following have been recorded with incorrect aconite usage:

  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision,
  • Tingling in mouth and extremities
  • Numbness of the mouth and extremities which can spread to the whole body
  • Muscle spasms
  • Dyspnea
  • Tremors
  • Incontinence
  • Reduced temperature
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Intense pain
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • spasms

Toxic Effects

  • Convulsions
  • Stupor
  • Shock
  • Central paralysis Paralysis of the respiratory system leading to asphyxiation and death
  • Slowing of the heartbeat, and heart failure leading to death.

Side effects that may not require medical attention (stop usage and report it to your health care professional if they are continuing or bothersome):

  • Headaches (if this occurs immediately lower the dosage or stop usage)
  • Nausea (if this occurs immediately lower the dosage or stop usage)
  • Diarrhea (if this occurs immediately lower the dosage or stop usage)

What do I need to know before utilizing Aconite Carmichaeli?

In Chinese medicine Aconite Carmichaeli can be classified several different ways based on how it was processed. Each method of processing seems to create a end product that is more specific to certain medicinal needs.

Generally, aconite is processed with salt in an effort to reduce its toxicity. Leteralsi aconiti carmichaeli (Sheng Fu Zi) is the unprocessed root. It is rarely used and usually only in cases of severe shock or for certain topical applications. "Black Aconite Daughter root" (Hei Fu Pian) is processed in s.c. as way that leaves the root black with a slightly oily cast. It's actions focus on the Kidneys. "White aconite daughter root" (Bai Fu Pian) is processed in s.c. a way that leaves the root a whitish-yellow color and translucent. Its action is focused on relieving painful obstruction.

What do I need to watch out for with Aconite Carmichaeli?

Aconite is extremely toxic and its biochemical constituent aconitine is considered a potent, fast acting poison. Even when treated, handled, and administered correctly aconite should always be used with respect and caution. Never take aconite without careful monitoring from a qualified health care professional.

It should be noted that even with external use, aconitine can be absorbed through the skin.

Read labels carefully before purchasing. There have been reported cases of herbal products being sold that did not contain active ingredients (the herbs active constituents) needed to be of any therapeutic value. Unless using the raw herb, buying a standardized product when purchasing a product may reduce the possibility of this occurrence. Look also for products that are clearly labeled with the ingredients contained and amounts.

Where can I store this herb?

Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30°C (59 and 86°F) unless otherwise specified. The raw herb, tinctures or infusions should be stored in airtight, dry, and light resistant containers. If there is an expiration date listed on the herbal product, throw away the unused portion after the expiration date.

Raw herbs, tinctures, ointments, etc all have varying life spans. Generally, an herbal product will have the longest life span when it has been extracted in alcohol. It should be noted however that though it can make certain herbs more bioavailable, extraction in alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of others.

Can you tell me a little more about Aconite?

General information: Aconite has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. Around the world references can be found that account to it's usage and benefits in traditional, folk and homeopathic medicines. Unfortunately, just as it is known for its medicinal uses it also known worldwide as a highly toxic substance and it's misuse has led to death. Therefore this herb should only be utilized with the awareness and monitoring of an experienced health care professional.

There are many varieties of Aconite, and as the biochemical constituents (active ingredients) present differ slightly in each aconite variety and active ingredients effect the therapeutic value of the plant, caution and research should be applied before substituting one variety for another.

Aconite Carmichaeli is of the family Ranunculaceae and is indigenous to China where it has long history of usage. The source of it's first reference is thought to be the "Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica" (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing ) of the late Han period. It is often combined with other herbs in medicinal formulas. Some of these combinations are said to reduce the herbs overall toxicity. In Chinese medicine it is considered acrid, hot, and toxic.

It is usually harvested in the summer or winter. The toxicity of this herb varies greatly within different varieties. It also varies due to growing environment, the source of the herb, how and when it was harvested, preparation, and the length of time the herb was decocted.

Note: It is not recommended that you harvest or prepare Aconite Carmichaeli yourself, as even handling of the herb can have toxic effects.

What are the actions that have been associated with the herb?

Generally, aconite is thought to act as anodyne and diuretic. It may inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. It is thought to effect blood glucose levels and cardiac functions. Studies however, have shown conflicting results to date on it's effects in these areas.. It has sedative and narcotic actions and is highly toxic if handled incorrectly. There have been reports that the estimated adult fatal dosage may be as low as 1 grm. Other sources estimate a fatal dosage to be 10-60grms. Differences in estimates may be due to the different varieties of aconite, harvesting, preparation, treatment of the herb, and the "model" used to make the estimate.

Copyright 1999 RxList