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Planta Med. 2010 May;76(8):825-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1240688. Epub 2009 Dec 14.

Toxicity assessment of nine types of decoction pieces from the daughter root of Aconitum carmichaeli (Fuzi) based on the chemical analysis of their diester diterpenoid alkaloids.

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  • 1Teaching Division, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China.


Various processed types of FUZI (the daughter roots of the highly toxic plant Aconitum carmichaeli Debx, FZ) decoction pieces (the herbal materials processed according to the specifications of Chinese medicine manuals; " YINPIAN" in Chinese transliteration) are widely used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases, but their toxicities are not known. Nine types of FZ decoction pieces, including one raw slice and eight processed forms, were therefore prepared, each in 7 to 10 batches, to assess for their toxicity. Altogether 84 FZ samples were quantified on the amount of highly toxic diester diterpenoid alkaloids, i.e., aconitine, mesaconitine and hypaconitine by a newly developed HPLC method with HPLC-DAD and LC-MS techniques. The comparison of the processed FZ to raw slices of the root showed that the amount of each analyte in the processed FZ was drastically decreased. The sum of the three toxic compounds in the 8 types of processed FZ was only 3.91-34.80 % of this value in the FZ raw slice. This implies that the toxicity of processed FZ was decreased significantly. The amounts of toxic components in the 8 types of processed FZ varied significantly, often by a power of ten, indicating that the dosage of these herbs, when prescribed for clinical uses, should be cautiously set in order to avoid poisoning incidents.

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