ACONITUM NAPELLUS signs and symptoms from the Characteristic Materia Medica by William Burt of the homeopathic medicine ACONITUM NAPELLUS…


All writers on Materia Medica claims that Aconite’s great centre of action is upon the ganglionic nervous system, and that through this it affects the capillary circulation. This I cannot subscribe to; for certainly, it is a powerful narcotic similar to Belladonna, and all of its great therapeutic properties are performed through the cerebro-spinal nervous system; consequently it especially affects that portion of the cerebro-spinal nervous system which presides over the action of the heart and arteries; the posterior portion of the spinal cord; the serous membranes; muscles; joints, and digestive organs.The cerebro-spinal nervous system is deeply invaded by the poisonous principle of Aconite, the heart and arterial capillary vessels are so paralyzed as to produce violent congestion and inflammation in any and every organ and tissue in the body that contains capillaries; the parts becomes swollen, red, hot and painful, with all the constitutional symptoms of phlegmonous inflammation, such as high fever, hard bounding pulse, violent thirst, great anxiety, restlessness,. Thus we find that Aconite exerts its poisonous influence so profoundly upon those delicate arterial capillary vessels and so paralyzes their action as to produce congestion and inflammation.

Meyer says: Aconite’s sphere of action is manifested principally in the ganglionic system, and exercises here its special influence upon the nerves of the capillary vessels, exciting fevers, congestion, and inflammation.

Grusselich says: Its operation on the arterial system is unmistakable; its reaction upon the nerves and lymphatic system, is easily substantiated from physiological principles.

Diez says: Aconite corresponds to the first stage of inflammation; as such and apart from its various modifications, it occupies the foremost rank among all the medical plants that have been proved up to the present time.

Schneider sums up the action of Aconite as follows:

1. Synocha and inflammation, arising from primordial irritation of the nerves of the central vessels, as distinguished from exanthematous and traumatic irritation, which proceeds from original irritation of the nerves of the vessels of the periphery.

2. Rheumatism; viz: Those congestive or inflammatory painful affections of the joints, muscles, or sensory nerves, which arise in consequence of cold.

3. Gastritis; also predominant affections of the liver amounting to jaundice.

4. Paralysis of the nerves of the blood-vessels, as in cholera.

5. Convulsions; but we regard all kinds of convulsions as consecutive, proceeding from anaemia or hyperaemia in the centre of the higher nerve life.

6. Paralysis in the sphere of the physical nervous system.

Cerebro-spinal system, or nervous system of animal life.

This includes the brain, spinal cord, with the nerves connected with them, and the ganglia seated upon these nerves.

The Brain. The arterial capillary vessels of the brain are so paralyzed as to produce violent cerebral congestion, as shown by swollen face, blue lips, violent pain in the head, stupor, partial insensibility, trembling of the head, mania, at times singing and laughing, and then weeping and moaning, filled with hope or great despair, pain in the head as if it was filled with hot water or encircled with a hot iron, excessive anxiety, restlessness, dread of death; whizzing in the ears, loss of sight, vertigo with partial loss of consciousness, loss of memory, & c.

Nerves of Motion. Aconite sometimes produces convulsions, but more generally paralysis of the muscular system. It does not irritate the motor nerves of animal life directly, like Nux vomica.

Nerves of Sensation. These are more powerfully acted upon by Aconite, as shown by the numbness, tingling, prickling, crawling, and creeping sensation throughout the body. This sensation arises from its depressing action upon those ganglionic or vaso-motor nerves which follow the blood vessels to their most minute ramifications, and preside over their functions. This congestion by pressing on the sentient nerves, arrest the nervous circulation and produces;a state similar to that when a limb is said to go to sleep; consequently the neuralgia Aconite is homoeopathic to is secondary, from pressure of the congested vessels surrounding the nerve. When the nerve alone is involved we must look to other remedies that directly affect the nerves.

(I now believe that Aconite has a special and specific action upon the posterior portion of the spinal cord, affecting the sentient nervous system.)

Muscular System. Aconite especially affects the muscular system, also the tendons and the fibrous tissues of the joints; producing in them congestion and inflammation of a rheumatic character. For inflammatory rheumatism of the joints and fibrous tissue, in any part of the body, no known remedy is equal to Aconite. If the fibrous tissue is the seat of the disease, the pains are tearing and aching. If it is in the serous membranes, the pains are sticking, or sore and stinging. If in the mucous membrane, the pains are burning. If in the muscles, the pain from sudden movement is extremely great.

Serous membranes. The most accurate and best– authenticated cases of poisoning by Aconite establish the fact that it affects especially the capillaries and this through a direct impression upon the retinae of cerebro-spinal and vaso- motor nerves supplied to them. This power to influence the whole or any portion of the capillary system, renders it a polychrest par excellence. Its field of operation is the cerebro-spinal nervous system, which it affects primarily. This primary impression is communicated to the vaso-motor filaments which regulate the circulation in all the vessels. The changes which occur in the circulation of a tissue brought under its (Aconite’s) influence are believed to the very similar to those indicated by Dr.Bennet as peculiar to the congestive process.

Dr. Prevost found that if Aconite, much diluted by water, was brought in contact with the web of a frog’s foot, contraction and afterwards dilatation of the capillary vessels ensued.

The congestive stage of inflammation in serous membranes most frequently commences with a chill, followed by dry heat, & c. inflammation in serous membranes does not generally go on to ulceration, sloughing and gangrene; but the fluid that is thrown out in the second stage takes on what is termed adhesive inflammation, the fluid effused undergoes such an organizing process as to glue the opposing surfaces of the serous membranes together. As soon as the second stage, that of effusion, takes place in serous membranes, the usefulness of Aconite ceases, Bryonia Sulphur or some other remedy must be chosen; but up to the stage of effusion, Aconite is the remedy par excellences.

Most examples of serous inflammation are believed to be more or less rheumatic in character. This again shows us why Aconite is so useful in serous inflammation, for the inflammation caused by Aconite is rheumatic in character.

Mucous membranes._Mucous membranes are highly vasculary and the millions of arterial capillary vessels found in them become the centre for the action of Aconite; acute congestion and inflammation of this tissue are at once produced under its influence.

Lymphatic system.-Lymphatics have three coats; 1. Internal epithelial and elastic fibre; 2. Middle, smooth, muscular, and fine elastic fibres; 3. External, areolo-fibrous, areolar tissue, intermixed with smooth muscular fibre. Arteries are distributed to their outer and middle coats, and in these two coats Aconite produces congestion and inflammation.


The grand sphere for Aconite is found in all diseases that emanate from, or have their starting point in the cerebro-spinal nervous system, and are of a congestive, inflammatory, or rheumatic character; with full bounding pulse, much heat, dry, burning skin, agonized tossing about, violent thirst, red face, shortness of breath, and great nervous excitability.Mind.- Great fear and anxiety of mind, with great nervous excitability.

Fear is one of the most prominent symptoms of the use of Aconite in its whole pathogenesis.

He is afraid to go out, to go where there is any excitement, or many people, or to cross a street. His life, is in fact, is rendered miserable by this all-pervading fearfulness. The countenance exhibits strong and unmistakable expressions of fear.

Fear of death, predicts the day he will die.

She is alarmed, and sure she will die, although there is no occasion for alarm.

Active hemorrhages, with fear of death and great nervous excitability.

She complains much of her head with anguish and great nervous excitability.

If a pregnant woman has fright and the fear remains, and she cannot seem to get over it, she must take Aconite at once.

Great fear during pregnancy that the child will be deformed, or that she never can give birth.

Head.-Of the patient sits up in bed, he immediately falls over in consequence of vertigo, and he is afraid to rise again, lest the same trouble should recur.

Vertigo when rising from a recumbent posture, with fainting and pale face.

Headache as if everything would press out of the forehead, with vertigo on rising.

Sensation as if the hairs of the head were standing on end; the scalp is sensitive to the touch.

Eyes.-Acute catarrh, or rheumatic ophthalmia, excessively painful as if some foreign body had lodged in it, accompanied by much fear.

She complains much of her head, anguish and acute conjunctivitis.

Mouth and Fauces.-Burning sensation, extending from the stomach all the way up to the mouth, and along the dorsum of the tongue, with tingling in the lips, tongue, fingers and spine.

Everything tastes bitter, except water.

Tongue coated white.

Unquenchable thirst.

Organs of digestion.-Bitter, bilious vomiting with anguish and cold perspiration.

Acute hepatitis, with high fever, and soreness in the liver.

Enteritis with burning tearing pains, and high fever.

Sharp shooting pains in the whole abdomen, which is very tender to the touch.

Abdomen swollen after scarlet fever.-HEMPEL.

Green watery diarrhoea, like chopped spinach.

Watery dark colored stools.

Bilious diarrhoea of infants, with colic, which no position or circumstance relieves.

Dysentery with high synochal fever; great fear and restlessness accompanied with cutting, lancinating, burning and tearing pains in the abdomen.

Urinary Organs-Scanty, red, hot urine. Retention of urine from cold, particularly in children, with much crying and restlessness.

Sexual Organs.-In males, acute orchitis, high fever with bruised painful feeling, from colds, or gonorrhoea. In females, suppression of the menses after a fright.

Restores the menses of plethoric women, after their suppression from any cause.

Menses too profuse in plethoric women.

Very severe after-pains, with fear and restlessness.

Suppression of the lochia, or too scanty discharge, soon after labor with distress in the abdomen, chest and head.

Acute puerperal peritonitis.

Breast hard and knotted, with hot, dry skin, much thirst and fear.

The mammae are congested, burning hot, hard and distended, with little or no milk.

When the patient, during pregnancy, is distressed between twelve and three a.m., having to get up to urinate, having no affection for any one.-J.C.M.

Os uteri dry, tender and undilatable; with distress, moaning and restlessness during every pain.

Cannot bear the pain, nor bear to be touched or uncovered.

Organs of Respiration.-Croup, brought on by sudden change of temperature from warm to intensely cold weather.

First stages of croup, with cough and loud breathing during expiration, but not during inspiration; every expiration ends with a hoarse hacking cough.

Croupy cough waking in first sleep, particularly with children, after dry cold west winds.

Child grasps at his throat after every coughing fit.

Short, dry, titillating cough, every inspiration seems to increase the cough.

Pleurisy and Pneumonia, especially with great heat, much thirst, dry cough and great nervous excitability.

Quick, anxious, labored, sobbing breathing.

Stitches through the chest and side, especially when breathing and coughing.

Haemoptysis, the blood comes up with great ease by hemming and hawking, of a bright red color, and in large quantities, from exercise or cold, dry west wind, with great fear and anxiety of mind, and palpitation of the heart.

Expectoration of bloody mucus with cough. There is almost always a tingling sensation in the chest after coughing. There may be stitches in the chest after coughing. There may be stitches in the chest and side, which are often so severe as to interfere considerably with respiration; can only get half-inch respiration.

The child has much oppression of the chest, anxiety, can scarcely cough, the suffering is intense.

Stitches in the chest, hindering respiration; cannot breath freely in consequence of a sensation as if the lungs would not expand.

Burning in the internal organs.

Palpitation of the heart with great anguish.

Fever.-synochal fever, with full bounding pulse; great heat, restlessness, thirst for large quantities of water, and great nervous excitability.

Great thirst, and though he cannot retain fluid in the stomach, yet will always drink; then up it comes as from a pump, all up and out in a very short time, even before a basin or anything can be produced.

Great heat and agony, and craves a large amount of cold drinks.

cannot bear to be covered.

Skin.-Red, hot and swollen skin, with much pain.

Scarlet rash; the eruption is fine and red, worse at night.

Acute erysipelas, with synochal fever, anxiety and great restlessness.

Extremities.-Much numb, tingling sensation in the back and in the fingers from irritation of the sentient nervous system.

Numbness in left arm, can hardly move the hand.

Painful sensitiveness of any part of the body; does not wish to be touched on account of this sensitiveness; of course he will be irritable, and fearful of any one approaching him.

This remedy is frequently indicated when there is a great and sudden sinking

the strength; but here we must look to the state of the mind. If we find cheerfulness and content with no alarm, Aconite is not the remedy. But if we find great alarm at this sudden sinking, study Aconite.

Bad effects from dry, cold air; suppressed perspiration from fright, with fear and anguish.

The symptoms are worse from rising and in a warm room, and are ameliorated in the open air.

At night the pains are insupportable, with fear, anxiety and great restlessness.

Adapted to people of a full plethoric habit, especially young girls of sanguine temperament and sedentary life; and to acute diseases brought on by dry, cold west winds.

William Burt
William H. Burt, MD
Characteristic materia medica Published 1873
Physiological materia medica, containing all that is known of the physiological action of our remedies; together with their characteristic indications and pharmacology. Published 1881