A Case of Aconite Poisoning

Botanical name: 

Homer Hollinger, age 26, 2012 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, Ohio, drank about three-fourths of an ounce of the tincture of aconite. This occurred on Friday afternoon, August 2ist, about twenty-five minutes after 2 o'clock. He immediately discovered his mistake, and took about a tablespoonful of ground mustard in water, but couldn't vomit. His sister, who lives with him, being frightened, could not phone me. She finally did succeed in finding my number and told him. He says that by this time his memory was so affected he could not retain the number, and she repeated it to him over and over.

When he got the connection I asked him what the matter was. He told me. I ran over with a bottle of the tincture of belladonna, which is said to be an antidote. Before reaching the house I decided belladonna, was dangerous. The man was frantic, sitting down, getting up, pacing the floor, pulse weak and irregular, intense burning in throat and stomach. He told me how much he had taken, and showed me the bottle with some of the "real thing" in it.

All this occurred in one-tenth the time it takes to write it. "Have you any vinegar?" I asked. In response he brought a glass jar with about a quart of excellent cider vinegar. A half teaspoonful was about all I cared for. "Drink, drink!" said I. He drank about a half pint. "I don't taste it at all," said he. "It doesn't matter; drink some more," I replied. He drank another half pint right out of the quart jar. In fewer than five minutes he was greatly relieved, and his pulse was much better. Then having watched him about twenty minutes I went home across the street, thinking I would read up, leaving orders for my patient to take a half cup of vinegar, diluted with water, every half hour.

Having looked up the subject hurriedly, I called up Dr. J. A. Lytle, registrar of the Cleveland Homeopathic College, and several other doctors. Every one said, "Your patient will die." This was rather discouraging. I hurried back to find my patient somewhat weak in the legs and back, and his sense of smell so acute that he held his nose while drinking the vinegar. The muscles about his eyes, too, were somewhat drawn. Otherwise he was feeling fine. He took no more vinegar after 4 o'clock, and in all took almost a quart, the first dose about fifteen minutes after taking the aconite.

The vinegar almost immediately relieved the burning and choking sensation in his throat. His saliva, which was thick and stringy (hanging down three or four feet, at my arrival, on his attempting to spit), did not change its character for at least half an hour. It gradually became normal. All the symptoms gradually subsided, and there were no others except that he says: "About midnight my head felt very strange and flighty, but it lasted only a few minutes." This was probably due to the vinegar. Next day he was ravenously hungry.—Homeopathic Recorder.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 3, 1909, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.