Posted: 09/11/2014 at 22:40
It's really hard to find good data about this thing.
Dried root must be at least 0.5% by weight aconitine ... for ... something.
Aconitine LD50 for mice and rats I can find, but for humans? Widely differing data, with links to .pdf files that don't actually include the information. They say 1.5 to 6 mg, but are we really 25 to 100 times more sensitive than mice? Maybe they meant "per kg" as is normal for these figures. That's *oral* though, not by skin contact.
Pulling figures out of the air and another .pdf (I hate those files) we see that fruit and veg are 80% to 95% water. That means 0.5% ... let's call it 1% by weight in the dried root would be only 0.1% in the raw root.
Yes, the leaves are toxic too.
In 1996, a 61 year old man died after eating the leaves of Aconitum thinking it was an edible grass.
The 2002 annual meeting of the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology heard a case report of a 36-year old man who ate an estimated 30gms of crushed root, believing it would reduce his neuropathic pain. He had heart palpitations and chest discomfort but no vomiting. He recovered after 24 hours of treatment to control ventricular tachycardia. The fact that such a large dose can have such a relatively small effect illustrates the difficulty of answering the question 'How much would it take to kill?' when applied to any poisonous plant.
In 2005, a 21-year old man made up his own capsules of crushed Aconitum root which, he believed, would work as 'natural' sleeping tablets. He suffered all the classic symptoms of monkshood poisoning but recovered after two days in the hospital ICU.
A couple thought it looked so lovely they planted it to brighten up their herb garden. When the wife picked a herb leaf salad she, accidentally, included some leaves from the monkshood and both suffered severe stomach upsets lasting two days.
Okay. So 30g would be about 30mg of the actual toxin, meaning the low lethal dose is 1.5-6 mg/kg, not just 1.5-6mg. Now how the heck does a gardener absorb 400mg of a non-water-soluble alkaloid toxin from a plant through his skin?