724 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
-reaction pseudaconitine presents a close analogy with aconitine, and on
hydrolysis splits up into acetic acid, veratric acid and pseudaconine.
Aconitum chasmanthum is the chief source of the aconite which is known
as Bisk or Bikh in the market of Calcutta. It yields an alkaloid, indaconi-
tine. Aconitum spicatum is often called Aconitum ferox and contains an
Of these three alkaloids derived from the Indian species of aconite
pseudaconitine is the most toxic. Indaconitine and bikhaconitine are less
toxic than the former, but are more poisonous than aconitine.
The root of the Indian species of aconite, when dried and steeped in oil,
Is a black, plump, heavy tuber, 2 to 4 inches long, and has a disagreeable
odour like hydraceum, and a reddish-brown resinous fracture. It is known
in the vernacular as Bish, Telyabish or Bachnak, and is extensively used
both externally and internally by Vaids and Hakims in the treatment of
muscular rheumatism, neuralgia and paralysis. It is administered in J to
i-grain doses, after it is soaked in cow's urine for at least three days, where-
by it loses much of its poisonous property.
Aconitum heterophyllum is a non-poisonous variety of aconite, and is
known in the vernacular as Atis. It grows in the sub-Alpine and Alpine
zone of the Himalayas. Its tuberous root is used in Indian medicine as a
tonic and anti-periodic. The root contains a non-poisonous, amorphous
alkaloid, atisiue, and aconitic acid.
[ Symptoms.—The symptoms supervene immediately, or within a few
minutes, after swallowing a poisonous dose of aconite or aconitine or any
of its preparations. These are severe burning and tingling of the lips,
tongue, mouth and throat, followed by numbness and anaesthesia of these
parts. Nausea, salivation, pain in the abdomen and vomiting usually occur,*
but diarrhoea is rare. Later, tingling and formication spread over the whole
body, causing great uneasiness to the patient. The pupils contract and dilate
alternately, and vision is impaired. The patient complains of vertigo, rest-
lessness, great prostration, and pain and weakness of the muscles with
twitchings and spasms. The pulse is slow, feeble and irregular, and the
respirations are first rapid, but soon become slow, laboured and shallow.
The skin is cold and damp, with sub-normal temperature. Death occurs
usually from syncope, or in some cases from asphyxia, In most cases con-
sciousness is retained till near the end, but sometimes delirium or convul-
sions, insensibility and coma have been observed.
Fatal Dose.—Fifteen grains of Indian aconite root would produce alarm-
ing symptoms, and twenty to thirty grains would probably 'prove fatal.
Thirty-five and sixty grains of the root of Aconitum napellus have each
caused death. One drachm of the tincture and twenty minims of the lini-
ment have respectively proved fatal, but recoveries have followed half an
ounce of the tincture and two ounces of the liniment, One-thirtieth to one-
tenth grain of pure aconitine is probably a fatal dose. One-fifteenth grain
of aconitine nitrate has produced a fatal result.
Fatal Period.—The usual fatal period is from one to five hours, but may
sometimes be delayed for twenty hours. A boy, 12 years- old, died in thirty
minutes after having been given some sweet containing aconite by one of
the " antiparty ",34 In non-fatal cases the symptoms of numbness and ting-
ling persist for a long time after the severe toxic symptoms have subsided.
: ,. ^?afcnent—Use emetics or wash out the stomach with a solution of
iodine in potassium iodide, or a solution containing animal charcoal or tannic
t 34. Bengal Chem. Examiner's Annual Report, 1927, p. 13.