Specification & Spread

Whitethroat monkshood (aconite) herb — herba aconiti leucostomi
Whitethroat monkshood (aconite) — aconitum leucostomum worosch.
Buttercup family — ranunculaceae.
It is a large plant 120-200 cm tall with a powerful tuber-like expanded vertical rhizome.
The lower leaves are long, collected in the rosette, the stem leaves are short.
All leaves are dense, leathery, kidney-rounded in outline, deeply incised, naked above and below – especially on strongly prominent veins – is with short bent hairs.
The inflorescence is usually branched, very dense, many-flowered and with a powerful main axis.
The flowers are irregular, the corolliform calyx is made of 5 free sepals. The upper sepal is elongated in the form of a helmet.
The petals are turned into nectaries, turning into a thin spirally twisted spur. The colour of the flowers is from dirty purple to yellow.
The fruit is a trifoliate and often ferociously pubescent.
It blooms in July – August, the fruits ripen in August – September.
Spreading. It grows in Western Siberia (Altai), Central Asia (Tarbagatai, Dzungarian Alatau, Tien Shan). The main areas of harvesting of raw materials on an industrial scale are Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Habitat. It grows in the mountains on forest and subalpine meadows, among shrubs.


The chemical composition of aconite The above-ground part contains diterpenic alkaloids in the amount of 0.5 to 4% (lappaconitine, lappaconidine, etc.), and the subterraneous organ at the end of the growing season is up to 4.9%.
There are also isoquinoline alkaloids – corydine and others, as well as saponins, coumarins and tannins.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The aerial part is harvested from the beginning of May to the beginning of June, in the vegetation phase (before budding). The plants mow at a height of 4-5 cm from the soil surface.
Security measures. You can not pull out the plants, because the renewal buds are close to the soil surface and are damaged when the stems are pulled down, which leads to the depletion of the undergrowth. Re-harvesting is possible no earlier than 3 years.
Drying. The harvested raw material is dried during the day, then cut into pieces 3-10 cm long. It is dried in the sun, laying out in a layer of 3-5 cm, in dryers it is dried at a temperature not higher than 80 °C. Precautions must be observed when harvesting, drying and packing aconite herb(!).

External signs of raw materials

External signs

The pieces of stems, leafstalks and leaf blades.
The stems and petioles are slightly pubescent, ribbed and up to 10 cm long. The stems are hollow and up to 0.8 cm thick.
The pieces of leaves of various shapes are slightly pubescent below (visible under a magnifying glass), the edges are entire.
The colour of stems, leafstalks and leaves are from light green to dark greenish-brown.
The smell is weak. The taste is not determined(!).

Other species

  • Aconite karacolicum (Aconitum karacolicum Rapaics) and
  • Aconite soongaricum (A. soongaricum Stapf), growing in the humid mountain forests in Tien Shan.

The tubers of these species contain the amount of diterpenic toxic alkaloids. The most poisonous component is aconitin – one of the strongest plant poisons.
In traditional medicine, these types are used as an anti-cancer agent. It is highly poisonous!

Properties and application

It is used as sedatives, painkillers and antispasmodics. Alkaloids have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system. It is the part of the preparations with expectorant, antihypertensive and hormonal properties.
Tanning substances of aconite have astringent, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties. Many people know the use of aconite for cancer. Flavonoids in the composition of aconite provide a positive effect in the treatment. These elements have antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-radiation effects.


All aconite-based dosage forms are contraindicated during pregnancy, hypotension and in case of individual intolerance.