The plant ATIVISHA is the one which is very frequently used in the system of Ayurveda. This is mainly used in the treatment of children and is having the synonym as SHISHU BHAISHAJYA. Apart from this it is used as an ingredient in many formulations of Ayurveda. The plants that belong to the genus Aconitum are generally highly toxic in nature. But compared to others, this plant is less toxic. Thus it is used profusely in the preparation of different medicines. The botanical name of the plant is Aconitum heterophyllum Wall and belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae. The name Aconitum is derived from Greek which means “Without Struggle” while the name heterophyllum is denoting the character of leaf “Dissimilar leaf” The plant is usually seen in the himalayan rages upto an altitude of 6000 to 12000 feet. The details of the plant are as described below.

PLANT DETAILS

BOTANICAL NAME

Aconitum heterophyllum Wall

FAMILY

Ranunculaceae

NOMENCLATURE

VERNACULAR NAMES
  • Kannada – Ativisha
  • Malayalam – Atividayam
  • Tamil – Atibaje
  • Telugu – Ativasa
  • Hindi – Atees
  • English – Indian Atees
SANSKRIT SYNONYMS
  • विष (Visha), अतिविष (Ativisha) – A non or low poisonous plant belonging to a poisonous group.
  • विश्व (Vishwa) – A universal medicine
  • शृङ्गी (Shrungi) – The rhizome which is used for medicine
  • प्रतिविष (Prativisha) – Used as antidote.
  • अरुण (Aruna) – Light brown coloured rhizome
  • शुक्लकन्द (Shuklakanda) – The rhizome with white starch inside.
  • उपविष (Upavisha) – A inferior variety of poison
  • भङ्गुर (Bhangura) – Highly fragile rhizomes
  • घुणवल्लभ (Ghunavallabha) – A high quality medication
  • शिशुभैषज्य (Shishubhaishajya) – The medicine that can treat many conditions of children.
PLANT IMAGE
Ativisha
Click image to enlarge
SAMHITA CLASSIFICATION
  • Charaka Samhita – अर्शोघ्न (Arshoghna) & लेखनीय (Lekhaneeya).
  • Sushruta Samhita – पिप्पल्यादि (Arshoghna), वचादि (Vachadi) & मुस्तादि (Mustadi).
NIGHANTU CLASSIFICATION
  • Dhanvantari Nighantu – Guduchyadi Varga
  • Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Hareetakyadi Varga,
  • Raja Nighantu – Pippalyadi Varga
  • Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi Varga
BRIEF MORPHOLOGY

A annual or biennial plant with erect and clasping flat stem that grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet. Leaves are hetermorphous, glabrous, upper ones are sparingly pubescent, egg or heart shaped while the lower ones are big and divided into five parts. The inflorescence is raceme with bluish or violet flowers with inner most petal large like a hood. The fruits are follicles more or less glabrescent with small blackish brown seeds. The root tubers which is the main part used as medicine is tuberous 2-8cm long, conch shaped, grey brown outside and starchy white inside with 4-5 black spots. 

PHARMACOGNOSY OF OFFICIAL PART
MACROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

MICROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

PART USED AND POSOLOGY
PART USED
मूलकन्द (Root-tubers)
DOSE

चूर्ण (Powder) – 0.5 to 2.5 grams

PHYTOCHEMISTRY

The chemical studies of the plant have revealed that various parts of the plant contain alkaloids, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, saponins, glycosides, quinones, flavonoids, terpenoids, etc. The tuber contains Atisine, Aconitic acid, tannic acid, pectin, starch, fat, mucilaginous matter, etc.

रसपञ्चक कर्म PROPERTIES AND USES AS PER AYURVEDA
गुण (Properties)
  • रस (Rasa) – तिक्त (Tikta), कटु (Katu)
  • गुण (Guna) – लघु (Laghu), रूक्ष (Ruksha)
  • वीर्य (Veerya) – उष्ण (Ushna)
  • विपाक (Vipaka) – कटु (Katu)
  • प्रभाव – None
कर्म & प्रयोग (Action & Indications)
  • दोषकर्म (Doshakarma) – त्रिदोषशामक (Tridoshashamaka) mainly कफपित्तशामक (Kaphapittashamaka)
  • धातुकर्म & मलकर्म (Dhatukarma and Malakarma)  – Main actions – दीपन, पाचन, कासघ्न, विषघ्न & क्रिमिघ्न (Deepana, Pachana, Kasaghna, Vishaghna & Krimighna) 
  • Other Actions – ग्राहि, अर्शोघ्न, शोथहर, रक्तशोधक, स्तन्यशोधन & वाजीकरण (Grahi, Arshoghna, Shothahara, Raktashodhaka, Stanyashodhana & Vajikarana)
  • प्रयोग (Prayoga)  – Mainly कास, ज्वर, विष, छर्दि, अतिसार & क्रिमि (Kasa, Jwara, Visha, Chardi, Atisara & Krimi), also useful in  अर्श, उदर, रक्तविकार, क्लैब्य, मेदोरोग, स्तन्यरोग, शोथ, etc (Arsha, Udara, Raktavikara, Klaibya, Medoroga, Stanyaroga, Shotha, etc)
AYURVEDIC FORMULATIONS
CLASSICAL
  1. चतुर्भद्र लेह
  2. बालसञ्जीविनी चूर्ण
  3. सुदर्शन चूर्ण
  4. बालचतु्रभद्र चूर्ण
  5. अमृतारिष्ट
PROPRIETARY
  1. Pranamrita (Pranacharya Greenshield)
  2. Mebarid (Phytopharma)
AGRONOMY
ENVIRONMENT

The most preferred climate is Alpine & sub-alpine climate upto an altitude of 2000 mts. But even the climate at an altitude of 4000 mts have also found to be more conducive for growth. 

CULTIVATION

The plant is propagated by seeds, tubers and young leafy stems. The seeds are to be collected during morning hours from the fruits that have become brown on drying. The preferred soil is heavy clay, sandy loam and slightly acidic soil. The part for propagation are kept for propagules or seedlings in the month of October while the same is put to the fields after 3 months from this step or later when they are fit for it. The preferred time in the month of March. Addition of humus and leaf litter will enhance growth. The plant wants open sunny sites with abundant air and moisture. Hence needs good irrigation. Around 500gms of seeds are required for planting in 1 acre of land.

HARVESTING

The growth is for 4 to 5 years with flowering after the 4th year especially during September with fruits the next month. The plants in the lower altitudes flower around 1 month earlier. The plants grown from tubers or cuttings will mature at 3 years. The root tuber yield is 207 to 218 kg per acre. On harvest the top segments of the tuber or daughter tubers are reused for planting.

STORAGE

Upon harvesting the tubers are dried in partial shade at room temperature. On complete drying the tubers are kept in airtight containers or plastic bags. 

VARIETIES AND SUBSTITUTES OR ADULTERANTS
VARIETIES

As per Raja Nighantu – 4 varieties

  1. White – Shweta
  2. Yellow – Peeta
  3. Red – Rakta
  4. Black – Krishna
ADULTERANTS

The roots stalks of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari)

SUBSTITUTES

YET TO BE COMPILED

TOXICITY
TOXIC SYMPTOMS
  • On higher doses, it can cause dryness of mouth, , inflammation of throat, cramps, tremors, etc. 
  • Normal dose it is found to be non-toxic
ANTIDOTE
  • YET TO BE COMPILED
शोधन or PURIFICATION METHOD

The tubers are heated with cowdung and then dried in sun to purify it.

THERAPEUTIC USES

EXTERNAL USES –

No external use

INTERNAL USES – 

The powder of the roots are given with honey to treat diarrhoea, cough, vomiting and other complaints in children. The root powder when taken internally reduces obesity and fat. The decoction is given internally along with Shunti to treat fever and indigestion. The juice of the root when taken with milk will act as an expectorant. The powder is given to treat dysentry by adding it with Shunti, Bilva and Jatiphala. 

CONTROVERSY (IF PRESENT)

YET TO BE COMPILED

LIST OF RESEARCH STUDIES
  1. Paramanick, D., Panday, R., Shukla, S. S., & Sharma, V. (2017). Primary Pharmacological and Other Important Findings on the Medicinal Plant “Aconitum Heterophyllum” (Aruna). Journal of pharmacopuncture20(2), 89–92. https://doi.org/10.3831/KPI.2017.20.011
  2. Rajakrishnan, R., Alfarhan, A. H., Al-Ansari, A. M., Lekshmi, R., Sreelakshmi, R., Benil, P. B., Kim, Y. O., Tack, J. C., Na, S. W., & Kim, H. J. (2020). Therapeutic efficacy of the root tubers of Aconitum heterophyllum and its substitute Cyperus rotundus in the amelioration of pylorus ligation induced ulcerogenic and oxidative damage in rats. Saudi journal of biological sciences27(4), 1124–1129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2019.12.025
  3. Jaiswal, Y., Liang, Z., Yong, P. et al. A comparative study on the traditional Indian Shodhana and Chinese processing methods for aconite roots by characterization and determination of the major components. Chemistry Central Journal 7, 169 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1752-153X-7-169

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