Chelidonium majus: Greater celandine. N.O. Papaveraceae. tincture of the fresh plant.
CHELIDONIUM belongs to the poppy family, and contains alkaloids resembling those found in opium. Four have been distinguished, viz., chelidonine, and a-, B and r- homochelidonine. They produce moderate depression of the central nervous system, and narcosis. Applied locally, they cause insensibility of the skin and cornea through paralysing the terminations of the sensory nerves. They slow the heart by a direct action on the cardiac muscles and cause the respiration to be slightly slowed and deepened.
These alkaloids have not been used separately in medicine and the fresh plant from which the tincture is made contains acrid juices which disguise and counteract the local sedative action of the alkaloids. All our therapeutic knowledge of chelidonium is gained from the provings and accidental poisonings and from clinical practice. From these sources we learn that it acts powerfully on the liver and its neighbouring organ, the base of the right lung. It is also affects the kidneys and disturbs the circulation. Probably the effect on the mind and head is secondary to its action on the liver, though as its alkaloids slightly depress the nervous system, the brain may be to some extent directly influenced.
Mind.-Chelidonium causes a state of anxiety and agony of conscience, as if the prover had committed a great crime and must crime and must run away, or he feels that he cannot think and has lost his intellect, his thoughts are distracted and he forgets what he intended to do. The temper is excited, he displays ill-humour at every trifle, is quarrelsome, irritable and peevish; daily outbreaks of anger occur without provocation.
Vertigo comes on with headache and is usually in association with pain in the liver and bilious vomiting.
Head.- The head pains are mainly frontal or occipital. In the forehead is a pressive pain that extends to the orbits, which feel sore on moving the eyes, or there is a tight pain as of a band stretched across the forehead, or a tearing pain over the right eye. The occiput feels cold and heavy or benumbed, and seems to be drawn back to the neck by a shortening of the muscles of the nape. To one prover it seemed that when he tried to sit up the back of his head was fastened to the pillow so that he could not raise it. The hair on the scalp feels as if it bristled.
Eyes.- There are neuralgic, tearing pains in and above the eyes. The eyeballs ache, worse on moving them (bry., actaea). Pricking, burning pain is present in the inner corner of the left eye, which is red and inflamed. The sight is dim from fluttering and dazzling before the right eye, the upper lid of which quivers.
Lachrymation occurs in the open air. The whites of the eyes look a dirty yellow. The ocular symptoms evidently depend on liver disorders.
Ears.-In the ears are roaring noises, a sensation of wind rushing out of them, boring stitches in the right ear, and a feeling of fullness in both, as if stopped up, causing diminished hearing.
Face.-The skin of the face has a yellow tinge, is sallow, or is darkened as if sunburnt; the discoloration is seen especially in the forehead, nose and cheeks. Dark red patches occur on the cheeks and intermingle with the yellow colour. Violent, tearing pains are felt in the right upper maxilla and the right cheek bone feels swollen. Groups of pimples or pustules appear on the cheeks and forehead. Flushes of burning heat overspread the face. Tearing pain is felt in the teeth, especially in the right upper molars, and it may extend to the right ear.
Digestion.-The taste is described as sour, salt, bitter insipid or pasty; better water collects in the mouth; mucus and saliva are increased in the mouth and fauces. the tongue is thickly coated yellow with redness of the edges, which are indented by the teeth. The throat feels raw and sore and there is a sensation of something solid in it which must be swallowed down, but which must be swallowed down, but which returns. The appetite was in most of the provers greatly increased; there is desire for wine, milk, vinegar, sour food and warm drinks, and an aversion from cold food and drinks, cheese and meat. Sour, salt or bitter eructations are common and there is a sensation of warmth of burning from the mouth to the stomach. There may be nausea and disgust for food, but nausea in many cases is not incompatible with an increased appetite (arn) and is relieved by taking food. The stomach is distended, with sensations of pressure and constriction or a feeling of English with gnawing, grinding pain which is relieved by eating. The stomach is externally very sensitive to touch and pressure and this sensitiveness extends over both hypochondria. The liver region is tender to pressure and is the seat of stitching pains that shoot towards the back and to the right scapula.
A dull pulsation is some times felt in the liver region. In the abdomen are flatulent rumblings and cutting or griping pains, all of which are felt mostly in the neighbourhood of the umbilicus, but the most characteristic abdominal symptom is a sensation as if a tight cord were constricting the abdomen at the level of the umbilicus. Spasmodic, drawing pains occur in the groins. In the rectum are burning, itching and crawling sensations and a pressure urging to stool, which, if constipated, is knotty like sheep dung, and if diarrhoeic, as is usual, is slimy, light-coloured, greenish or bright yellow. The anus contracts spasmodically after each evacuation. Itching and cutting pains are felt in the anus, and pressure and crawling in the perinaeum.
Sexual.- In the male sexual organs are drawing pains in the spermatic cords and testicles, itching and a moist vesicular eruption on the scrotum, and crawling in the glans penis.
In women the menses are more profuse, and in the only female prover whose periods are recorded in the Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy they were four days early. They are usually stated to be too late, too profuse and too long-lasting. There may be burning in the vagina, recurring daily at the same hour.
Urinary.-In the renal region there is dull, deep-seated pain, relieved by lying on the abdomen, or a shooting pain proceeding in the direction of the ureters and followed by the passage of turbid urine. A spasmodic pain with urging is felt over the pubes and there is increased frequency in passing water. The urine is pro fuse, pale, clear, and foaming like beer, or is lemon-yellow and turbid on standing, with the deposit of reddish- yellow crystals of uric acid; it has a resinous odour. In one of the provings, tube casts, increased uric acid and diminished sodium chloride were noted.
Respiratory.-The larynx feels swollen and narrowed and there is hoarseness. Paroxysms of cough arise from irritation in the throat and a sensation of dust in the trachea. The cough is hollow, violent and dry, or racking, with difficult expectoration of large lumps, accompanied by pain behind the sternum. The breathing is oppressed, the chest feels constricted, as if encased in a cuirass. There is a violent pain at each breath all round the lower angle of the right scapula, worse from any movement, stitches in the chest on inspiration, a deepseated pain in the whole right side of the chest and soreness and stitches in the lower part of the right side.
Circulation.-The patient is subject to violent palpitation and the pulse is full, hard and accelerated or quick and small, or slow.
Back and Limbs.-Drawing pains and stiffness are felt in the muscles of the neck, especially of the right side. A constant pain is present under the inferior angle of the right shoulder- blade, which may extend into the chest or stomach and cause nausea and vomiting. There is a drawing pain through the vertebral column that passes forwards to the chest the thence to the abdomen as far as the umbilicus. A feeling as if broken occurs in the last lumbar vertebra, or there is a sensation as though the lower lumbar vertebrae would separate when bending forwards. The limbs feel heavy, stiff and lame, they are often cold. Wandering pains occur in the joints, especially in the right knee-and tarso-tibial-joints. The pains are worse from walking and the limbs generally feel bruised all over and are very sensitive to touch. Pricking sensations like needles are felt under the heels.
Sleep.-The chelidonium patient is drowsy and sleepy during the day but is restless in bed before midnight, he dreams of journeys, corpses, deaths and funerals.
Chill, Fever, &c.-He is weary and disinclined for exertion, he may have an “all over” feeling as in influenza, he is chilly internally, the hands and feet are cold, with distension of their veins, the right foot is icy cold (lyc., one foot hot, the other cold). There may be frequently repeated cold shivering after drinking water. After lying down in the evening internal heat comes on, which begins in the hands and spreads to the body. The head and face may become hot while the rest of the body is cold, and this condition often comes on about 4p.m. The patient usually wakes in the morning covered with a gentle perspiration.
Skin.-The skin is yellow or yellowish-grey, it itches, and there are red and painful pimples and pustules on different parts.
Chelidonium has been used chiefly for liver complaints, for congestion and soreness of the liver with jaundice, for gastro- duodenal catarrh with bilious vomiting and diarrhoea, for simple catarrhal jaundice, for acute and chronic hepatitis, and for cholecystitis and gall-stone colic, when indicated by the pains running backwards from the right hypochondrium to the right shoulder blade.
Headache.-It is useful in periodical sick headaches brought on by getting over-heated, with relief from vomiting of bile and from lying quietly in a dark room, and with aggravation from motion. It is also efficacious in prosopalgia and in supra- orbital neuralgia on the right side.
Respiratory.-Chelidonium is one of the principal remedies for right-sided pneumonia, especially of the base of the right lung, and when associated with hepatic derangement and the characteristic bruised aching at the inferior angle of the right scapula. It has been found useful in the catarrhal bronchitis of children and in whooping-cough, and for the frequent short, dry cough often present when the stomach and liver are disordered.
It has been employed in intermittent fevers recurring in the afternoon or evening. Chelidonium is pre-eminently a medicine that affects the right side and the hepatic region of the body, and unless the liver is in some way affected it is not likely to be the appropriate medicine.
(1) Dull, continuous pain, at inferior angle of right scapula (kali c., merc.-under the left, chenop., sang.).
(2) Right foot icy cold, left foot natural.
(3) Desire for and relief from warm drinks.
(4) Jaundiced skin.
(5) Symptoms predominantly right-sided.
(6) Weariness, drowsiness.
(7) Hepatic affections.
(8) Inflammation of lower lobe of right lung.
(9) Right supra-orbital and infra-orbital neuralgias.
(10) Blondes. Spra subjects disposed to liver complaints.
From touch, change of weather, warmth, open air, motion, 4a.m. and 4p.m. Right side.
From eating (stomach pains); rest, lying on face (pains in kidneys an bladder); warm food and drink (liver, stomach and chest symptoms); eructations (stomach); local heat (rheumatic pains).