Aconitine Poisoning

Botanical name: 

A young man suffering from an acute gonorrheal orchitis had granules of aconitine gr. 1/134 left him, and the directions for their use were apparently understood by those in attendance. To avoid any possible mistake the directions were written out fully. Notwithstanding all that had been said and written a mistake was made, and it came very near being a fatal one. I was hurriedly summoned at midnight and found the young man almost moribund from too much aconitine. The pulse was hardly perceptible. He was cold and clammy, and there was numbness and tingling throughout the body. The senses of sight and hearing were very much impaired, and there was vomiting. Glonoin was given hypodermically three times, after that several granules, gr. 1/250, were dissolved in the mouth at intervals of ten, fifteen and twenty minutes. I remained with the young man two hours. The fact is that glonoin saved his life and enabled him to show his gratitude in proper time by skipping the town, failing to settle for services rendered. My faith in glonoin as a life saver is nevertheless undisturbed.

F. S. BLOSS, M. D., Troy, N. Y.

COMMENT: Because of the peculiar toxic properties of aconite, which include the fact that there is no physiological antidote to the remedy, I became convinced years ago that for internal use the official tincture was fully as strong a preparation as any physician should take the chances of prescribing.

Aconite is so commonly used by many physicians that they are apt to forget the extreme danger and necessity of care in its administration, and this fact, combined with the danger of depending upon the concentrated preparations on the part of those who know nothing or but little of its extreme toxicity, makes it necessary and in fact almost imperative for a physician to learn to use the weaker preparations. I am convinced after more than thirty years' observation that every result obtainable from any preparation can be obtained from the tincture in properly adjusted doses. It has been twenty years at least since I prescribed specific aconite.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.