The aconite plant has extremely high poison levels. It’s also known most commonly as monkshood or wolfsbane. Aconitum will kill you in only two to four hours. Just touching is enough for you to die. If you’re poisoned by this plant, here’s what you need to know to survive.
What is it?
Aconitum, also known as aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, or devil’s helmet, has dark green leaves with tall stems crowned by large blue, purple, white, yellow, or pink flowers in the shape of a cylindrical helmet. It’s used by hunters throughout the world to paralyze their prey. The most common species of Aconitum is the Aconitum napellus.
Where are they located?
The monkshood plant is native to mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere and grows in moisture-retentive, but well-draining soils of mountain meadows. They’re often cultivated in gardens and can grow in the shade of trees.
How will it kill you?
Aconitine poisoning symptoms appear almost immediately. Not only can poisoning occur due to ingestion, but also from merely picking the leaves without wearing gloves, as the aconitine poison is easily absorbed through the skin. Initial signs include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by numbness, burning, and pronounced motor weakness. Death is then caused by ventricular arrhythmias and asystole as well as paralysis of the heart or respiratory system. Post-mortem signs show those of asphyxia.
How to survive:
Treatment of aconitum in your system is mainly supportive. All patients must have their blood pressure and cardiac rhythm closely monitored. If ingestion of the plant occurred within an hour, then gastrointestinal decontamination with activated charcoal can be used. The main physiological antidote to be used is atropine. If treatment with these drugs isn’t helping, the patient will then have to undergo cardiopulmonary bypass.
Which Canadian actor died from aconitine poisoning in 2004?
On July 30th, 2004, Andre Noble ate the plant while on a hike with his aunt on Fair Island in Newfoundland and died en route to the hospital.