Medicinal Plants

Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) Benefits, Uses, Dosage & Side Effects

Vatsanabha (also spelled as Vatsnabh) is a Hindi name of Aconitum ferox, which is also known as Indian Aconite. In traditional medicine, its medicinal uses and benefits include its use as an antipyretic and diaphoretic agent. Due to these properties, it helps in lowering fever by inducing perspiration. Most of the ayurvedic medicines used for alleviating fever contain Vatsanabha as a primary ingredient.

What is Vatsanabha?

Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) is a variety of monkshood (aconite) commonly known as Indian Aconite. It belongs to the Ranunculaceae (buttercups) family and Aconitum L. (aconite) genus. The roots of Vatsanabha are used in ayurveda for medicinal purposes.

Synonyms & Vernacular Names

Common Name Vatsanabha, Vatsnabh
Botanical Name Aconitum ferox
English Indian Aconite
Hindi Meetha Telia (मीठा तेलिया), Bachnag (बछनाग), Meetha Visha (मीठा विष) , Vatsnabh
Sanskrit Vatsanabha (वत्सनाभ), Amrit (अमृत), Visha (विष)
Punjabi Meetha Telia

Plant Taxonomy

Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)
Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants)
Super Division Embryophyta
Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)
Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)
Class Magnoliopsida
Super Order Ranunculanae
Order Ranunculales
Family Ranunculaceae (buttercups)
Genus Aconitum L. (monkshood or aconite)
Species Aconitum ferox Wall. ex Ser. (Indian aconite)

Medicinal Parts

  • Roots.

Vatsanabha roots are used after purification as prescribed in ayurveda. Ayurveda never recommends its use without purification (Shodhana) process. Unpurified Vatsanabha roots can have hazardous effects on health, even it can lead to death.

Vatsanabha Chemical Composition

Vatsanabha contains the following chemical constituents:

  • Aconitine.
  • Pseudo-aconitine.
  • Bikhaconitine.
  • Chasmaconitine.
  • Indaconitine.
  • Catecholamine.
  • Isoquinolines.

Ayurvedic Properties

Vatsanabha has the following ayurvedic properties.

Rasa (Taste) MADHURA (Sweet).
Guna (Main Quality) RUKSHA (Dry), TIKSHNA (Sharp), LAGHU (Light), VYAVAYI, VIKASI
Virya (Potency) USHNA (Hot)
Vipaka (Resultant) MADHURA (Sweet)
Prabhava (Action) Diaphoretic
Dhatu (Tissue) Effect Rasa (body fluids), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscular tissue), Meda (adipose tissue)
Organs Effect Stomach, Liver, Skin, Heart
Excretion Urine, Saliva, Gastric Juice, Sweat, Bile.

Dosha Karma

Balances Tridosha (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
Reduces Kapha Dosha (in particular).
Detoxifies Pitta Dosha if Sa-ama and increases pitta dosha if Nirama.
Pacifies Vata Dosha.
Most suitable Mainly Vata and Kapha Disorders.
Unsuitable Pitta Body Type, Undernourished or weaker people.
Contraindicated Heart diseases, especially bradycardia.
Ama Dosha Effect Suitable for Sa-Ama Dosha; unsuitable for Nirama Pitta Dosha.

Vatsanabha Medicinal Properties

Shuddha Vatsanabha has the following medicinal properties:

  • Antipyretic.
  • Diaphoretic (increases sweating)
  • Anodyne.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Aam Pachak (Detoxifier)
  • Mucolytic.
  • Diuretic.

Purified Vatsanabha possesses all above properties in very low dose (less than 30 mg per day or 15 mg twice a day). If dosage exceeds 30 mg per day, even purified Vatsanabha can cause severe side effects.

Vatsanabha Indications

Purified Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) is therapeutically indicated in the following health conditions:

  1. Fever.
  2. Chronic fever.
  3. Inflammation-induced fever – like rheumatic fever.
  4. Loss of appetite (rarely used unless fever, but beneficial during fever or illness for improving appetite).
  5. Splenomegaly.
  6. Diabetes.
  7. Respiratory infections.
  8. Indigestion.
  9. Poor digestion.
  10. Asthma.
  11. Cough.
  12. Common cold.
  13. Irritable bowel syndrome with alternating constipation and diarrhea.
  14. Rodent bite (as Sanjivani Vati)
  15. Scorpion bite (as Sanjivani Vati)
  16. Snakebite. (as Sanjivani Vati)

External application of Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) helps in relieving inflammation and pain in the following diseases:

  1. Gout.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. Lower back pain.
  4. Hip pain.

Vatsanabha Benefits & Uses

Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) is not used independently as a single herb. When used in combination with other herbs or any ayurvedic formulation containing it, it acts as a catalyst. Due to this action, it improves the effectiveness of other natural ingredients.

In ayurvedic formulations, it helps to lower the fever and alleviates symptoms associated with fever.

Vatsanabha Dosage

The classical ayurvedic dosage of Purified Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) is as follows:

Children (above the age of 5 years) 0.2 mg per Kg of body weight
Adults 15 mg
Maximum Possible Dosage 30 mg per day

How to Take

Anupan (Adjuvant) Tankan Bhasma + Cow’s Ghee or Honey
Dosage Frequency  Twice daily
Medication Time After a meal

Ayurvedic Formulations of Vatsanabha

Safety Profile of Vatsnabh

The following aspects are considered for safety profile regarding the use of Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox).

Vatsanabha Side Effects

If dosage exceeds from the maximum possible dose, then Vatsanabha can cause the following side effects:

  • Vertigo.
  • Headache.
  • Dryness in the mouth.
  • Restlessness.

Safety of Vatsnabh in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) should not be used during pregnancy and lactation whenever possible. In a few ayurvedic formulations containing purified Vatsanabha can be used if urgently required. Check individual formulation for more details.

Vatsnabh Contraindications

Unpurified Vatsanabha (Aconitum ferox) is contraindicated in all cases. You must not use unpurified Vatsanabha in any disease or any formulation. It acts as a poison and can lead to death even in a low dose.

Purified Vatsanabha also has some contraindications as follows:

  • Children (under 5) – strictly contraindicated.
  • Anger.
  • People with Pitta Body Type.
  • Impotence.
  • Undernourished person.
  • Exhausted people (due to work or after walking, running and physical exercise).
  • After traveling.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Infants and children.
  • Old aged weak people.

However, your doctor can use it in combination with other herbs or prescribe ayurvedic formulation containing purified Vatsanabha even in these conditions. Vatsanabha without combining with other medicines must not be taken in such conditions.

Ayurveda quotes a wise person can use poison as medicine, but an unwise person can make poison out of medicine. So, using such medicine require an in-depth understanding of every aspect of health and disease.

Vatsanabha Poisoning & Overdose

Aconitum ferox is a type of poison. If it is used unwisely, it can lead to the following symptoms and complications, according to Rasa Ratna Samuchaya.

1st stage Skin rashes; Tingling
2nd stage Tremors
3rd stage Burning sensation in the stomach and in whole body and vomiting
4th stage Deformity
5th stage Frothing; loss of sensation in the skin.
6th stage Shoulders drooping and body wasting; bradycardia and dilation of pupils; breathing difficulty.
7th stage Coma or unconsciousness
8th stage Death (due to respiratory or heart failure)

Vatsanabha overdose can lead to similar effects as tabulated above.

Antidote of Vatsnabh

Cow’s Ghee along with Tankan Bhasma (calcined borax) is an antidote for Vatsanabha toxicity. However, before giving such antidote, the patient also requires stomach wash and therapeutic emesis or purgation.

In addition to the above antidotes, Arjuna Bark Powder along with cow’s ghee or honey should also be given. Kasturi (musk) can also help to prevent respiratory and heart failure.

Almost all ayurvedic formulations that contain purified Vatsanabha also contains borax or Tankan Bhasma. It helps to prevent Vatsanabha toxicity.

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Dr. Jagdev Singh

Dr. Jagdev Singh (B.A.M.S., M. Sc. in Medicinal Plants) is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist. He has successfully treated thousands of patients with Ayurveda (including Herbal Ayurvedic Medicine and Ayurvedic Diet). Ayur Times is an initiative of his efforts to bring quality information on Indian Medicine with the highest level of relevancy and scientific evidence.

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