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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Can you give me some information about human exposure to Monkshood?


QUESTION:
I would like to find out what you know about human exposure to Monkshood.

ANSWER:

One of the most dangerous of herbal medicine when taken internally or even externally, in some cases. Powerful enough in dilute tinctures to cause pain relief when applied topically to unbroken skin. Not used much anymore (except when diluted out of existence by homeopathic types...)
QUESTION:
We received a telephone call yesterday from the Illinois State Police regarding a high school student who was caught with rolling papers and a 3 ½ x 3 ½ baggy filled with Monkshood. Have you encountered a case like this before now?

ANSWER:

No.
QUESTION:
Would Monkshood be more rapidly absorbed by the lungs than the digestive tract, and would the health effects be more intense?

ANSWER:

I don't know, but given the low dosage required to to kill (3-6mg) and the possibility of intact alkaloid being carried on smoke particles, I would be worried! This stuff grows wild in profusion in much of the Rockies (native plant, valued by many for its beauty, although it, along with its frequent companion, the tall larkspur, kills a lot of livestock...), so it could never be a controlled substance in any sense, but whoever is processing it and selling it to kids is sure overdue for an attitude adjustment of the legal kind...