Fevers are common during the monsoon season and these infections get easily triggered by inhaling infected droplets, having contaminated food and water and carriers such as insects and animals that carry viruses. Fever is termed as Jwara Roga in Ayurveda, which is caused due to imbalance in the Vata and Kapha doshas, while an imbalance in Kapha can result in cold symptoms and excess of Vata often lowers the digestive fire. Every illness begins from Ama (accumulation toxin in the digestive system) that leads to an imbalance of Dhatus (bodily tissues).

The ayurvedic system of medicine aims at correcting the Agni and balancing doshas in the system to shield the body from viral infections and fever. The holistic system of ayurvedic medicine brings a treasure trove of herbs for curing fever and bolstering immune response. One such incredible herb is Vatsanabh, famed as “the king of poisons” a poisonous herbal plant used largely in therapeutic and traditional medicine, after getting rid of toxic elements. This herb is very pungent, bitter, and astringent in taste and its tuberous root is mainly used for medicinal purposes. The potent therapeutic traits of Vatsanabha are very phenomenal during the winter season. Vatsanabh is credited to possess antipyretic and diaphoretic action that aids in easing fever by inducing perspiration. Most of the ayurvedic formulations used for combatting fever contain Vatsanabh as a key element.
Vatsanabh

Vatsanabh Plant

Vatsanabh is a type of monkshood (aconite), commonly known as Indian Aconite. It is a perennial, tuberous, root and herbaceous shrub that grows up to 3 feet in height. This herbal plant belongs to the Ranunculaceae (buttercups) family and genus Aconitum L. The leaves are cleft, simple alternate and oval-shaped larger in size towards the bottom and the top of the plant leaves are smaller and shorter. The tuberous roots are dark brown in colour from the outside and yellow in colour inside. While the fruits are tube-like capsules that open at the top. This herbal plant bears very attractive, blue, yellow, and pink florals with several stamens. The flowers and fruits blossom out in the month of July to November. This plant is native to India and is found in the high alpine regions of the Himalayas. It is widely distributed in West Bengal and Darjeeling and more than 100 species of this plant are native to the northern hemisphere.

Shodhana of Vatsanabha

Vatsanabh is the most poisonous of all herbs and may cause fatal effects when taken in heavy doses. However, in ayurvedic medicine, Vatsanabh when used in purified form is a good Rasayana and anti-tridosha, which chiefly fights against vata and kapha dosha. Aconitine and pesudaconitine are poisonous alkaloid compounds present in the roots of this plant.

Purification Process Of Vatsanabh

The roost of Vatsanabha is tied in a piece of cotton cloth and immersed in cow's urine for 2 to 3 days. The roots are then exposed to sunlight daily and the cow's urine is replaced by fresh water. After three days purified roots are dried and preserved for therapeutic and medicinal uses.

Another method is to immerse roots in goat's or cow's milk and heat them for three hours to purify the roots. Milk is believed to be the best medium to eliminate the poison of blue aconite.

According to ayurvedic manuscripts Bhavpraksh nighantu, the leaves of the Vatsanabh plant resemble like leaves of the herb Sinduvar and the roots are just like the size of a goat's umbilicus. The roots are best when collected between the months of December to April, as the roots collected during this period are known to be very strong and effective.

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Synonyms Of Vatsanabh

Vatsanabh is known by several common names in English such as Aconite, Monkshood, Wolf's bane, Leopard's bane, Indian vish, Bikh, Mouse bane, Women's bane, devil's helmet, Queen of all poisons and Blue rocket.Some of its common names in vernacular languages include:

  • Hindi: Bachnag, Meetha vish, Meetha teliya
  • Punjabi: Mohari, Shyam mohair
  • Bengali; Kathvish, Katvish, Mitha vish
  • Bihari: Dakara
  • Gujarati: Basang, Bachang
  • Kannada: Vatsanbhi
  • Marathi: Bachang
  • Telugu: Nabhi

Chemical Composition

The key chemical constituents of Vatsanabh include aconitine, pseudo-aconitine, bikhaconitine, chasmaconitine, indaconitine, catecholamine and isoquinolines. These bioactive compounds are attributed to their powerful healing properties.

Medicinal Properties

Vatsanabh in its purified form is known to possess certain medicinal traits in very low dose. If the dosage exceeds more than 30 mg per day, even purified form of this plant can cause severe side effects. Some of the chief medicinal qualities:

  • Antipyretic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Anodyne
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Mucolytic
  • Diuretic

Ayurvedic Indications

Purified Vatsnabh is therapeutically beneficial in treating the following health disorders:

  • Fever
  • Chronic fever
  • Inflammation-induced fever (rheumatic fever)
  • Poor appetite
  • Splenomegaly
  • Diabetes
  • Indigestion
  • Asthma
  • Common cold and cough
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rodent, snake, and scorpion bites

Topical application of this root extract is helpful in reducing inflammation and pain in the following disorders:

Uses

Several pharmacological studies have shown that Vatsanabh possesses anaesthetic, antiarthritic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative, nerve stimulating, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidote, and cardiac stimulant characteristics. These potent qualities are well-known to regulate diseases like pyrexia, indigestion, anorexia, spleen disorders, gout, cough, asthma, vision issues, night blindness, eye infections, inflammation, otitis, headache, sciatica, backache, and joint disorders.

Health Benefits

Vatsanabh is not generally used as an individual herb, but it is used in combination with other herbs or ayurvedic formulations. This herb acts as a catalyst and promotes the efficacy of other natural ingredients. This herbal formulation helps to bring down fever and ease the symptoms associated with fever.

Remedies Indigestion

Indigestion is caused due to poor eating habits and Agnimandya(weak digestive fire). This herbal supplement helps promote digestion by triggering the Agni (digestive fire) owing to Pitta balancing, Deepan and Pachan actions.

Asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory condition of the respiratory tract caused by the accumulation of mucus which makes it hard for a person to breathe. Vata and Kapha dosha are the main doshas involved in asthma, where vitiated Vata combines with deranged Kapha dosha in the lungs causing an obstruction in the respiratory passages. Vatsanabh averts the formation of phlegm, thus controlling the symptoms of asthma and improving lung function.

Treats Piles

Chronic constipation is one of the main causes of piles that leads to the impairment of all three doshas, chiefly Vata dosha. An aggravated Vata dosha leads to low digestive fire resulting in persistent constipation which causes pain and swelling around the anal region. This ayurvedic medicine is valuable in treating piles owing to its Tridoshar property which helps to pacify all three doshas. While natural Deepan and Pachan qualities help to stimulate the digestion process and reduce pain and swelling.

Dosage

Vatsanabh is a toxic herb, hence it should be always used after shodhana (purification) and under proper medical supervision. The appropriate therapeutic dose of Vatsanabh varies from person to person depending on their age, body condition, effects on dosha and severity of the health condition. It is advised to consult with an ayurvedic practitioner, as he or she will evaluate the patient's health status and prescribe the correct dosage for a specific period.

Side Effects

If the dosage exceeds the maximum possible recommendation, then this herbal formulation can cause certain side effects such as:

  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Confusion

Precautions

Vatsanabh may cause allergic reactions when taken with any salty or sour foods, so it is usually advised to consult your physician before taking this medication. As this herbal extract is poisonous in nature, it is advisable to avoid the use of Vatsanabh during pregnancy and breastfeeding.