COMMON NAMES: Aconite, Aticish (Nepali, ‘very poisonous’), Bachnag (Persian), Bish (Arabic), Black Aconite, Blue Aconite, Himalayan Monkshood, Mithavis (Hindi), Monk’s Hood, Sman-chen (Tibetan, ‘great medicine), Valsanabhi (Malay), Vatsamabhah (Sanskrit), Wolfbane
Blue aconite is a perennial plant that grows up to one meter in height. It has tuberous roots that are dark brown on the outside and yellow on the inside. The leaves are larger towards the bottom, growing smaller and shorter towards the top of the plant. The flowers are purple-blue and located at the end of the stems. The fruit is a tube-like capsule that opens at the top (Ratsch 1998, 31).
Blue aconite is found in Nepal, northern India, and other parts of the Himalayas. It is said to grow at altitudes as high as 4500 meters. Propagation is through seeds, which can simply be strewn about. Blue aconite prefers a stony or rocky soil, and thrives in the crevices between stones (Ratsch 1998, 31).
TRADITIONAL USES: Ancient Vedic texts describe the use of A. ferox as an arrow poison in warfare in ancient India. Those struck with these arrows were said to go mad (Bisset & Mazars 1984). Blue aconite is one of the most dangerous of all poisonous plants, but is also a valuable medicine when prepared in a very specific, correct, and careful way. Nevertheless, just handling the plant can cause serious effects, so it is best to appreciate this teacher from a distance.
The extreme left-handed Indian Tantrists known as the Aghori consume psychoactive plants and poisons in order to practice converting poison to medicine in the bloodstream, which they believe allows them to connect with the divine consciousness of Shiva. At the beginning of time, Shiva consumed every plant, and when he ate A. ferox, it caused him to turn blue. Thus, by consuming this plant, the Aghori believe they can become one with Shiva. In one particularly advanced ritual, a blend of A. ferox and Cannabis is smoked. This mixture can easily cause death, so only the bravest practitioners ever try (Svoboda 1993).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Traditionally, when used in Ayurvedic medicine, the tubers of blue aconite are soaked in the milk or urine of sacred cows to purify them. This removes the poisonous elements from the root. Milk is said to be a better soaking medium than urine. Once the roots have been purified, they are ground to a paste and used as an external application for treating nerve disorders (Warrier et al. 1993).
In dangerous Tantric rituals, the leaves and root may be dried, chopped, mixed with Cannabis, and smoked (Svoboda 1993).
Blue aconite is the most poisonous plant in all of the Himalayas, and can easily cause death if used incorrectly. As little as a few grams of dried or fresh plant material, or 3-6 mg of aconitine, an incredibly toxic diterpenoid alkaloid, is enough to kill an adult. Therefore, it is not recommended that blue aconite be consumed for any reason (Ratsch 1998, 32).
MEDICINAL USE: In Ayurvedic medicine, the roots of blue aconite are purified in cows milk or urine and used to treat nerve pain, inflammation, coughs, digestive problems, skin disease, and many other ailments (Warrier et al. 1993).
Blue aconite, and other Himalayan species of Aconitum are used in Tibetan medicine to treat both excessive cold and excessive heat. The crushed roots may be blended with bezoar stones as a universal healer, particularly useful in treating cancerous tumours. Medicine made from blue aconite is also said to be a powerful remedy in cases of demon possession (Laufer 1991 cited in Ratsch 1998, 32).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Blue aconite contains the alkaloids aconitine and pseudoaconitine. The root contains the greatest concentrations of these constituents, and is therefore the most dangerous part of the plant (Ratsch 1998, 33). Properly prepared Ayurvedic A. ferox is said to be calming, sedating, appetite stimulating, and a potent aphrodisiac. Smoking A. ferox in a Tantric blend can very easily be fatal, and leads to very challenging effects. Even the most advanced practitioners strongly warn against the use of this blend in any circumstances (Svoboda 1993).
Bisset, N.G., and G. Mazars. “Arrow Poisons in South Asia, Part I: Arrow Poisons in Ancient India.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 12 (n.d.): 1–24.
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Svoboda, R.E. Aghora: At the Left Hand of God. New Delhi: Rupa, 1993.
Warrier, P.K., V.P.K. Nambar, and C. Ramankutty. Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Species. 5 vols. Madras: Orient Longman, n.d.
Very interesting. I’m wondering, is there a place on the net from where you can order this plant? If you know, please reply. 🙂
Herbs like these that can easily cause death if not used properly will be extremely difficult to find on the net. No one wants to assume that kind of liability, regardless of whether it’s sold for consumption or not.
Detoxifed, prepared as a Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine, it is available.
It is available after steam detoxification as a “magical” plant as well, but the “magical” properties required for OOBE (when mixed with three to five other herbs, depending on the formula)are probably due to the toxic properties that cause numbness, slow heart beat, and irregularity. This was one of the herbs used by the Mystery Schools to induce NDE, and was also known as the “Lazarus drug”. It was, however, blamed for the madness of several famous “initiates” possibly including Nebuchanedzar, Caligula, and Nero. (Although Constantine was also said to be an initiate, he may have undergone a different type of NDE initiation.)
Wow, thank you for the information, Reg! Is there a book or other resource where we can learn more?
For me, processed aconite has been a miricle drug.
This remedy at least from my experience,has definite opiod agonist properties and is great for pain, anxiety, muscle tension and swelling. I am convinced that this plant product could be used to greatly lesson withdrawal symptoms, that is opoid withdrawal symptoms. For me, this natural remedy has worked at least as well as kratom. In fact, per weight, I have found processed aconite to be more potent than kratom. Also,though I have experienced the development of tolerance to this herb/root,only as little as 2 days of abstenaince from aconite so far has reversed that tolerance.
While I do not believe processed aconite is as dangerous as the mainstream medical establishment reports, we are in fact talking about a potent and potentialy dangerous product. Do your own research and please note that I am not a medical professional, nor practitioner of any sort. I have spoken only of my own experiences, and nothing I have stated in regards to processed aconite, should in any way be construed or considerd advice.
Thanks for sharing your experience with Aconite. You can find it on IAmShaman and ShamansGarden, and it is from a reputable source that processes the aconite before offering it for sale. “Processing” usually consists of boiling it for a time to remove the toxins, and then re-drying the root. It comes as very hard pieces, much like thinly-sliced banana, but very hard, and difficult on a grinder.
How do you prepare yours for consumption?
Blue Aconite (monkshood) is a flower available from online flower sources to grow in a garden. In Ohio, I grew it in my garden but was unaware of it’s entheogen properties. I am sure it is still available. Look on the web for Monkshood or Blue Aconite.