ACONITE, Aconitum, a plant famous among the Ancients, both in quality of a Poison and a Remedy. See POISON.

The ancient Botanists give the name Aconite to several plants of different kinds. One species they called Lycoctonum, Austerit, Wolfsbane, or Kupokthon, Dogsbane, from its effects. Of this, they had likewise their divisions; as the Napellus, thus called a Napo, because its root resembled the turnip-kind; another called Anthcra, Antithora, q. d. good against disorders of the chest.

The whole class of Aconites is held extremely caustic and acrimonious. In virtue whereof, they produce mortal convulsions or inflammations that end in mortification, with which the Ancients were so surprised that they were afraid to touch them. Hence, a thousand superstitious precautions about the manner of gathering them. Their roots are held of service in malignant fevers, and accordingly make an ingredient in some Orvietans and other Alexipharmic compositions.

Aconite is said to take its name from Acona, a city in Bithynia, where it grows in great abundance. Though it is also found in other Places, particularly the Mountains about Trent. Some derive its Name from ἀκρωνυχία, a Rock naked or bare of Earth, whereon the Plant readily thrives.It was also called μυοφόνος; as killing Mice with its bare smell, according to Pliny. —The Poets feign it to have arose from the Foam of the Dog Cerberus, when Hercules dragged him out of Hell.The Ancients used this Plant against the Sting of the Scorpion, which is said to be deadened by the Touch of the Aconite, and restored to its Vigour by that of Hellebore. Theophrastus relates, that they had a way of preparing it in those Days, so as it should only destroy at the End of one or two Years.—Arrows dipped in its Juice prove mortal wherever they wound.—The Indians use Aconite, corrected in Cow's Urine, with good success against Fevers. See ERR. Edif. & Cur.