The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Using Aconitum Medicinally

Aconitum is a part of our local flora and a plant that has long fascinated me.

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Our local species in northern Arizona – Aconitum columbianum, commonly known as Monkshood

This plant, commonly known as Monkshood, is found in only a few places locally. It requires extra moisture so it prefers riparian habitats. It is a beautiful deep blue flower that strongly resembles the hood of a medieval monk and it is easy to see where the common name comes from.

The plant is quite toxic and I once met a guy who was interested in this plant due to its traditional use for poison tipped arrows in a variety of separate cultures in different parts of the world. I have never verified his claims nor used it in this manner but it was an interesting conversation for sure.

What fascinates me is that Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have (different) ways to detox this plant to enable its use both internally and medicinally… and they worked out ways to detox the plant more than 1,000 years ago.

I have no personal experience with this plant, other than to admire its beauty and respect its strong energy.

As an aside, the genus Aconitum is in the Ranunculaceae family. Many plants in this family can be strong medicinals but must be dosed carefully. A few medicinal herbs from this family you may be familiar with are: Black Cohosh, Anemone (Pulsatilla), Goldenseal, Clematis and Marsh Marigold.

Columbine (state flower of Colorado) is also in this family and is up there with the all time most hypnotically beautiful blooms.

I recently came across these research studies on how these two traditional healing systems work with this genus. I hope you find these references as interesting as I do.

** Aconitum Monkshood

Aconitum Processing



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