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aconitin as arrow poison?

Justin A. Cobb jacobb at students.uiuc.edu
Fri Feb 11 10:58:50 EST 2000

It depends upon the type of biochemical that aconitum is.  Many biological
chemicals, including toxins, lose their activity under "high heat"
conditions so the cooking may cause it to lose its activity.  I don't know
what type of biochemical it is, but judging from the name, I'm guessing it
might be quite similar to aconitate, a TCA cycle intermediate which does not
dissociate from the enzyme-substrate complex.  This is all I can guess.

Justin Cobb
Sophomore, Biology-General
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School of Life Sciences
"Peter Koller" <pkoller at edu.uni-klu.ac.at> wrote in message
news: at mailbox.edu.uni-klu.ac.at...
> In literature on aconitum (napellus and others), I have repeatedly come
> across the information that its root extract was used as arrow poison in
> "primitive" cultures, but always just in a footnote, or a half-sentence,
> and no specific procedure mentioned.
> questions:
> 1) provided it was used to hunt for food (as opposed to warfare or hunting
> for skin/fur), how did they get this alkaloid out of the meat again - is
> heat sensitive, so that cooking would take care of the problem?
> 2) or would the fact that one person just eats a small part of the animal
> and thus ingests only a small ammount of the poison reduce the dose
> even if you take into account that the dose to kill the animal had to be
> high that it died almost instantaneously, whereas it could take several
> days to kill the hunter (+family) which would still make its use rather
> recommendable?
> (the books say, 3mg under the skin kill a mouse (1 ounce?) within seconds
> (and a lot less of course in a longer time) - same toxicity provided, it
> would take 3g (!) to kill an average 30kg deer as quickly, with the poison
> being in everything but fur and bones (that is basically in about 22 kg of
> meat and guts, according to my hunting experience); the same sources say
> also that 1-2 (other sources 6-10mg) are a lethal dose for an adult human.
> Therefore, the amount a human could eat and just not be killed (but still
> have serious troubles) according to this would be only a small bite of
> meat: this knocks out the dilution theory, I think.)
> 3) However, literature on aconitin says that it is quickly destroyed in
> body - is this done through metabolism only (which a dead animal hasnt got
> by def), or by any chemical substance in a mammal, which would also be
> there in a dead specimen, so that leaving the meat for some time before
> eating it would break down the poison?
> 4) how else could it be removed from the meat or destroyed without
> destroying the food?
> please mail as I am no regular reader and I think this is rather off-topic
> here.
> thanks for your help,
> ---


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