Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum) Medicinal Usage

Learn about medicinal properties and medicines of Herb Ativisha. The botanical name of herb Ativisha is Aconitum heterophyllum. Learn about is health benefits and medicinal usage.

Ativisha, Indian Atis, Atis, Atees or Aconitum heterophyllum is found in the Himalayan region. It is known as Ativisha, Aruna, Shuklakanda, Bhangura, Ghunavallabha, Ghunapriya, Kaashmira, Vira, Visha, and Shishubhaishajya in Ayurveda.

Atees or Aconitum heterophyllum occurs in the alpine Himalayas of Sikkim, Nepal and adjoining parts of southern Tibet also from Kashmir to the Kumaun hills at altitudes of 2500-3900 meters. The root and tuber of the plant are used in internal prescriptions for fevers, rheumatic conditions and for loss of vitality.

The roots are astringent and used in diarrhea, especially in infants, and in dyspepsia, vomiting, cough, irritability of the stomach and colic. Aconitum heterophyllum root is bitter in taste. It has expectorant, febrifuge, anthelmintic, anti-diarrheal, anti-emetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in diarrhea, dysentery and gastric pain. It is used as a bitter tonic to combat debility after malaria and other fevers. It is also used against hysteria, dyspepsia, vomiting, and cough. Atees is used in Ayurveda for due to scorpion or snake bite.

General Information of Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum)

Plant Description:

Aerial parts are annual but the roots are biennial. The stem is clasping and erect. The branches are absent or rarely one or two in number. Leaves are glabrous, sessile, and variable in shape and size.

Roots: Conical, fusiform or cylindrical, about 2.0 to 7.5 cm. long and 0.4 to 1.6 cm. or more thick at its upper extremity, gradually decreasing in thickness towards tapering end, externally yellowish to greyish white, external surface wrinkled marked with scars of fallen rootlet and with a rosette of scaly rudimentary leaves on top. Fracture short, starchy, white, fractured surface marked towards the center by 4 to 7 concentrically arranged yellowish-brown dots, corresponding to end of fibrovascular bundles. Taste is bitter with no tingling sensation and odorless.

Aconitum heterophyllum is classified into white, yellow, red, and black varieties. The white tuber variety, with rapid growth and high yield, is considered to be the best.

Flowers: Large, hooded, white–violet in color and occur in slender racemes or lax leafy panicles. Corolla is hairy. Carpels are five in number, containing 10–18 follicles.

  • Flowering and fruiting occur from August to October in the third year of growth.
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Dried tuberous roots
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Herb
  • Duration: biennial herb
  • Distribution: The species is found in grassy slopes of the alpine Himalayan region, between 3000 m and 4200 m altitude, sometimes descending up to 2200 m.
  • Habitat: Sub-alpine and alpine climate.
  • Propagation: Seeds, tuber segments or young leafy stems can be used.

Vernacular names / Synonyms of Ativisha

  • Scientific name: Aconitum heterophyllum
  • Assamese: Aatich
  • Ayurvedic: Ativisha
  • Bengali: Ataicha
  • English: Atis root
  • Gujrati: Ativishni Kali, Ativikhani Kali
  • Hindi: Atis
  • Kannada: Ativisha, Athihage
  • Malayalam: Atividayam, Ativitayam
  • Marathi: Atvisha
  • Oriya: Atushi
  • Punjabi: Atisa, Atees
  • Sanskrit: Ativisa, Aruna, Ghunapriya, Visa
  • Siddha: Athividayam
  • Tamil: Atthiranam, Mathiri, Pankurai
  • Telugu: Ativasa
  • Trade: Atis
  • Unani: Atees
  • Urdu: Atees

Aconitum heterophyllum Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are the Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. A genus comprises of many species and the botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of the same plant.

The botanical name of Atees is Aconitum heterophyllum. It belongs to plant family Ranunculaceae. Below is given a taxonomical classification of the plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  • Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  • Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  • Subclass: Magnoliidae
  • Order: Ranunculales
  • Family: Ranunculaceae – Buttercup family
  • Genus: Aconitum
  • Species: Aconitum heterophyllum

Aconitum heterophyllum (Ativisha) Constituents

Aconitum heterophyllum roots Atisine, F- dihydroatisine, hetisine, heteratisine, heterophyllisine, heterophylline, heterophyllidine, hetidine, hetisinone, and atisenol.

Aconitum heterophyllum Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Aconitum heterophyllum is known as Ativisha, Sitashringi, Bhangura or Pankura, Upavishaaka in Sanskrit. In Charak Samhita it has been recommended for treating obesity, piles, stomach disorders, etc. In Sushruta Samhita it was suggested as a remedy against diarrhea.

Aconitum heterophyllum is considered bitter and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). It is an Ushna Virya herb. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus. It has the property of digestion, vomiting, and purging, and gives a feeling of lightness.

  • Rasa (taste on the tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

Ayurvedic Actions / Karma of Ativisha

  • Ama nashak: toxin digester
  • Atisaraghna: Controls Doarrhoea.
  • Deepana: Promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food.
  • Grahi: Inspissants; stomachic, digestive, and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body.
  • Jwarahara: Decreases vega of jwara and reduces the burning sensation.
  • Kasahara: Removes cough.
  • Krimighna: Destroys worms.
  • Pachana: Digests Ama but does not increase appetite.
  • Raktadoshahar: blood purifying.
  • Vishahara: Destroyer of poison
  • Cyperus rotundus can be used as a substitute for Aconitum heterophyllum. If Ativisa is not available, then in its place Musta should be used.

Important Formulations of Ativisha

Lodhrasava, Shiva Gutika, Lakshminarayana Rasa, MahaVishagarbha Taila, Rasnairandadi KvathaChurna, Sudarshana Churna, Panchatikta Guggulu, Balachaturbhadrika Churna


Jvara, Kasa, Chardi, Amatisara, Krimiroga

Important Medicinal Properties of Ativisha

Aconitum heterophyllum is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  • Antidote: Counteracts a poison.
  • Anti-dysenteric: Relieving or preventing dysentery.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  • Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  • Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
  • Aphrodisiac: Stimulates sexual desire.
  • Bitter tonic: Tonic of the bitter taste, acts chiefly by stimulating the appetite and improving digestion.
  • Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
  • Hemostatic: Checking blood flow.
  • Hemostatic: Checking blood flow.
  • Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  • Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.

Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum) Medicinal Uses

Aconitum heterophyllum is regarded as nonpoisonous, antiperiodic, anti-inflammatory and astringent. It is used in cough, diarrhea, dyspepsia, as a tonic after fevers, febrifuge, antispasmodic.

The roots are a bitter Tonic, stomachic, digestive, alleviates dysentery and bilious complaints. It helps in periodic and intermittent fevers as a Tonic, dyspepsia, and cough. It is Non-poisonous plant and used in a variety of traditional medicines.


An equal quantity of powders Atis root Aconitum heterophyllum), Vach (rhizome of sweet flag), Haritaki (fruit rind of chebulic myrobalan), Chitrak (root of leadwort/Plumbago zeylanica), Yavakshara (salt of potassium and sodium), Pippli (Piper longum) fruit, and rhizome of costus (Saussurea lappa) is mixed. This is taken twice/day with warm water at a dose of 3 to 6 g.

Mumps, Parotitis

The decoction of equal part of roots of Asvagandha (Withania somnifera Linn.), Musli, Atibala (Sida rhombifolia Linn.), Ativisa (Aconitum heterophyllum Wall) and stem of Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) in a dose of 14 to 28 ml, is given three times a day.


Pulverized Aconitum heterophyllum, (6 Ratis), may be administered three or four times, at intervals of two or three hours.

Digestion improvement

The decoctions of dry ginger, Cyperus rotundus, Aconitum heterophyllum, and Tinospora cordifolium mixed together, digest all faults of undigested food, and excite the power of digestion.

Diabetes, leucorrhoea, as carminative

Aconitum heterophyllum root mixed with Ajuga parviflora leaves and Podophyllum hexandrum roots are dried in shade and powdered. The powder is given half teaspoonful twice a day early in the morning and at night after meals up to three months for the treatment of diabetes, leucorrhoea and as carminative.

Chronic fever, diarrhea

The aqueous extract of the root 5-10 ml is given twice a day, early in morning empty stomach and at night after meals for 7 to 28 days in chronic fever, in diarrhea and as cold efficacy.

Loose motions with mucus

A mixture of equal parts of Triphala, Cyperus scariosus and Aconitum heterophyllum are taken in Dose 3 g twice daily.

Fevers, loose motions, gastroenteritis, vomiting, coughs, colds

Make a fine powder of 50 g each of Pippali, Cyperus scariosus, Aconitum heterophyllum, and Pistacia lentiscus gall. Give in a dose of 1 gram with honey.

Aconitum heterophyllum Ativisha Dosage

The recommended dosage is 500 mg to 1 gram.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects, and Warnings

Some of the species of genus Aconitum, Aconitum ferox and Aconitum spicatum are deadly poisonous due to alkaloid aconitine. However, among the reported ~250 species of Aconitum, A. heterophyllum is the only non-toxic species with therapeutic potential.

The pharmacological properties of Aconitum heterophyllum are attributed to the non-toxic active constituents i.e. aconites, including atisine comprise the major alkaloid constituents of this plant species.

It was found that while atisine has a hypotensive effect at every tested dose, the plant extract as a whole showed a hypertensive property. Hypertension produced by high doses of aqueous extract was attributed to the excitement of the sympathetic nervous system. Aconitum heterophyllum is nonpoisonous. It does not contain the toxic aconitine group of alkaloids and is safe even for infants, to whom it is often prescribed as an antidote to poisons.

  • It may cause dryness in the body.
  • Its heavy dose has a narcotic effect.
  • Aconitum heterophyllum has the ability to make the sympathetic nervous system more sensitive to physiological stimuli.
  • Like other Aconitum species for this, no purification process is mandatory.
  • The root can be purified by boiling in milk or cow urine before use.

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