Also called Camarum, Canicida, Cy-nococtanum. Various derivations are given by etymologists; as, 1st, a whetstone or rock, because it grows on bare rocks. 2dly, a negative, and dust, because it grows without earth. 3dly, dart, because they poison darts therewith. 4thly, to accelerate, for it hastens death.
The Monk's-hood, or common Wolf's-bane, of which Dr. Storck speaks so much in favour, is the Aconitum napellus Lin. Sp. Pi. 751, Wilden, G. 1062, Sp. 9. N. Ord. multisiliquae. It is cultivated in our gardens as an ornament; but is spontaneously produced in Germany, and some other northern parts of Europe. Some authors have supposed that Storck employed the A. camarum: in fact, however, he used the A. neomontanum, and mistook it for the A. napellus. The different species have been mistaken for each other, but all seem to possess the same properties.
The expressed juice of the fresh herb was made into an extract by a gentle evaporation, then for internal use the following powder was directed:
Rx extract, aconit. gr. ij.
Sacchar. alb. - 3 ij m. f. pulv. subtil.
In several instances, this was given from gr. vj. to 3 ss. three times a day, with the happiest success. Its chief sensible effect was its exciting a copious perspiration.
The cases in which Dr. Storck succeeded by the use of the above powder were, an inveterate gonorrhea, obstinate pains after intermittent fevers, tophi and nodes, scirrhous tumours, indurations of the parotid glands, spina ventosa, itch, amaurosis, gouty and rheumatic pains, convulsive disorders, and an anchylosis. Some have given it in tincture, made by adding one part of the dried leaf to six of spirits of wine; the dose, 40 drops. But it has often been given from one grain, gradually increased to ten, for a dose: indeed Stoll and some others carried it much further.
A person who had eaten a small quantity of monk's-hood was presently attacked with a sensation of tingling heat in the tongue and jaws, and the teeth seemed as if they were loose, and the face as if it was swelled. This tingling sensation gradually spread all over the whole body, particularly to the extremities; the knees and ankles lost their strength, and frequent twitching of the tendons came on; soon after a sensible check to the circulation of the blood through the limbs was felt; at length a giddiness supervened; then a mist seemed to collect itself before the eyes; in the ears was a humming noise, the senses failed; the eyes and teeth were fixed, the nose contracted, breathing short, and cold sweats were perceived on the hands, feet, and fore head. All these symptoms followed in less than two hours from the time of eating the sallad, in which the monk's-hood unfortunately was mixed. His friends forced down into his stomach a quantity of oil and water, and afterwards carduus tea, by which he vomited; these were repeated so as to encourage a thorough discharge from the stomach, and, in the intervals, a few spoonfuls of a stimulating cordial were given: and thus he soon recovered.
Some writers say, that the napellus is not poisonous in Sweden, Poland, etc.; but it should be noted, that the napellus, which is not poisonous, is the aconitum lycoctonum Lin. Sp. Pi. 750. See Wilmer's Observations on the Poisonous Vegetables of Great Britain. Storck, de Aconito, and the Article Venenum.