Sodium chloride. Common Silt. (NaCl). Dilutions.
NATRUM MURIATICUM, or common salt, is more widely distributed in nature than any other substance except water. It is present in all the tissues and fluids of the human body, and is the most important of the chemical substances found in the blood-plasma, being present in the proportion of 0.7 per cent. It is the great regulator of osmotic tension in the organism, and by this means performs one of its chief functions, viz., keeping the blood-serum at a uniform specific gravity. There are about 11 oz. of salt in the human body. Any excess of this quantity introduced into the system is at once excreted by the kidneys, or, if the excreting power of the kidneys, or, if the excreting power of the kidneys is impaired, is deposited in the tissues where, by its power of attracting water, it causes generalized or localized oedema. Salt is a powerful stimulant of metabolism, increases the capillary circulation of fluids, both of blood and lymph, and is a diuretic. It also acts as a stimulant to motor activity. Two grammes of salt daily in the food are all that is required to replenish the daily waste, but many people take more than this. Usually the excess is simply drained off by the kidneys, but if their salt-excreting function is in any way impaired retention of salt-excreting function is in any way impaired retention of salt in the tissue (not in the blood) results, and symptoms of salt poisoning follow. The first symptom is a progressive hydration of the tissues, which causes the patient to gain weight before any perceptible oedema can be detected. Manifest oedema follows and distends the subcutaneous tissues so that they pit on pressure by the finger, and, more serious than this, oedema of the viscera of the viscera occurs, and may be shown by dyspnoea, attacks of eclampsia, headache, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, or attacks of eclampsia, according as the incubus falls on the lungs, digestive apparatus or the nerve centres. Death has occurred from oedema of the lungs and from oedema of the brain causing coma.
Sodium chloride modifies the toxicity of microbial excretions and is attracted to toxins present in the tissues; at the same time it attracts water, and it is in this way that the presence of toxins in the tissues causes oedema. Salt solutions are absorbed but little in the stomach, and largely in the bowel; the more hypotonic they are the quicker are they absorbed.
The above are the effects that natrum muriaticum produces in the system by means of its physical properties. To obtain its dynamic effects we must study the results obtained from its provings. From this source we learn that it produces what may be called a salt cachexia, a scorbutic condition in which there is general emaciation, beginning at the neck and spreading down wards-an alteration in the distribution of fluids in the body, and in the secretions and excretions; circulatory disturbances, general muscular weakness, and mental depression. These general states are correlated with symptoms dependent on the various organs and parts of the body that in their character and mode of appearance are distinctive. It will save space and avoid repetition if the specific way in which natrum muriaticum affects the different organs is considered at the same time as its therapeutic application.
Salt has been used in doses of an ounce twice daily in “epidemics” of malarial fever, and has been recommended to be drunk in the form of a tumblerful of salt and water every morning before breakfast as a remedy for bilious headache. Saturated solutions of salt have been employed for treating wounds with purulent discharge; a hypertonic solution causes a flow of lymph from the surface of the wound, which brings with it the micro- organisms and toxins which are the cause of the suppuration. A solution of salt isotonic with the blood is in frequent use as a rectal, subcutaneous or intravenous injection to prevent the collapse that results from depleted circulation, such as collapse from profuse haemorrhages, or from the draining away of fluids in infantile diarrhoea and in cholera.
When we leave the administration of natrum muriaticum given, as above, for its physical action in the system and consider its dynamic influence, we find it of the greatest value for symptoms arising in anaemic, cachectic conditions, and where there is a scorbutic deterioration of the blood. Such states are often present in old malarial cases that have been treated by large doses of quinine, in depressed health brought on by grief, emotional strain and overwork, and in the condition of ill-health induced in many people by the prolonged and excessive ingestion of salt with food. It is remarkable that a high potency of salt can cure these cases although crude salt continues to be taken. The disturbances of function arising from the above causes embrace almost all the organs of the body, which, however, do not show serious organic lesions; there is produced a condition of chronic ill-health that does not tend to a fatal issue.
Mind-Patients for whom natrum muriaticum is indicated have many mental symptoms; they are melancholy and depressed, given to weeping in solitude with little or no cause for it, and are angry and irritable if anyone attempts to console them. They brood over old insults or injuries. They are over-sensitive, can bear no noise, are disinclined and unfit for mental work, as they have difficulty in concentrating the mind on anything, are of weak memory, and often absent-minded. These symptoms are very characteristic, especially the depression with easy shedding of tears (ignat., puls., sepia) and dislike of consolation, and they will be present in every well-indicated case requiring the medicine.
It should be useful in manic depressive insanity, and such symptoms as “weeping alternately with laughing,” or at the same time, “laughter at unsuitable times,” “great irritability followed by tearfulness,” would indicate it in dementia praecox.
Head-Natrum muriaticum is valuable in a certain kind of headache. It is situated mostly in the forehead and temples and may be unilateral, something seems to press down on to the eyes, making the eyelids feel heavy and difficult to keep open. The head feels full and constricted, the pain is throbbing or beating, as with hammers, is worse from movement and better from quiet and lying down. It usually comes in the morning on waking, increases as the day goes on and gets better towards evening. It is relieved by sleep and perspiration of the scalp. The headache is often periodical, is very apt to come on in association with the menstrual period and may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting and by vertigo and vanishing of sight. Sometimes there is perpendicular hemiopia. There is also an occipital headache, extending down the neck to the shoulders, for which natrum muriaticum is the remedy. Another kind of headache for which it is useful is one associated with eye- strain. This is a reflex headache from strain or spasm of the ciliary muscle. Fiery zigzags may be ” seen ” before headaches.
Eyes.- Natrum, muriaticum is a remedy for granular lids, ciliary neuralgia coming on with the sun, stricture and fistula of the lachrymal duct and for strabismus due to weakness of the internal recti, also for affections of the eyes and lids caused by abuse of the application of lunar caustic.
Face-The face of the natrum muriaticum patient is pale, sallow, dirty looking and shines as if greasy, the lips are dry and cracked, a crack in the middle of the upper or lower lip is often present and the upper lip is swollen (calc., sep). Vesicles are formed round the lips, herpes labialis.
Nose-This drug has a marked influence on the secretions of mucous membranes, it either diminishes the secretion and causes dryness or it increase increases it and renders it more watery secretion is very common. Thus in the nose there is either a sensation of great dryness and a feeling of obstruction, with discharge of thick mucus like the clear white of egg, or there is violent coryza, with loss of smell and taste and much sneezing. This makes it a good remedy for a common cold and it is frequently indicated for that complaint.
Digestion-In the mouth the gums are swollen and bleed easily, as in scurvy; the tongue has a sensation of dryness but is not really dry; there is a sensation of a hair on the tongue (sil), which has the appearance of being mapped; vesicles, ulcers and bubbles of frothy mucus appear on the tongue, which is otherwise clean. The saliva tastes salt (merc.), there is bitter taste in the mouth (bry., merc., puls., sulph.), and the patient is thirsty.
In the throat there is a hawking of salty mucus and a sensation of a sore plug with a feeling of constriction. The throat looks very dry and glazed and there may be a sensation as of a splinter in it (alum., arg., nit., help., nit. ac). The sore throats left behind after cauterization with nitrate of silver are cured with natrum muriaticum in attenuation and it is very useful for many sore throats in the chronic stage, especially when the feeling of a sore lump is present.
The appetite is often excessive and yet the patient emaciates (iod.), but he feels full and uncomfortable after food and is most easy when the stomach is empty. He is averse from bread, coffee and smoking; there may be violent thirst, and hiccough is common.
In the abdomen are borborygmi and pricking pains, mainly in the region of the umbilicus, which are relieved by watery, copious diarrhoea. But more frequently there is constipation with a sensation of contraction of the anus and difficult expulsion of a hard, dry, crumbling stool, with pain as of splitting of the anus. Natrum muriaticum is one of the leading remedies for constipation coming on at the seaside, for constipation in anaemic subjects and in those who have malaria.
Urine-In the urinary sphere there is characteristically cutting and burning in the urethra after urination (canth.); the urine alternates between being scanty and high coloured with sediment and being profuse, frequent and colourless. The former predominates. Weakness of the sphincter, which allows urine to escape while walking or from any sudden jar, like coughing or laughing (puls., caught, sep.) is noticeable. A curious symptom with regard to micturition, very distinctive of natrum muriaticum when it occurs, is inability to pass water if another person is present. This is really a mental not a bladder symptom.
Sexual-In the male sexual organs it has been most used for spermatorrhoea and seminal emissions, and it meets both the local affection and the general feebleness resulting from it.
In the female sexual organs the most prominent symptom indicating natrum muriaticum is a pressing down sensation of the uterus after rising in the morning; the patient feels she must sit down to prevent prolapse (sep.). The menses are scanty or absent, or they may be too early, too profuse, and last too long. Headaches of the characteristic natrum muriaticum variety often accompany the menses.
Respiratory-In the respiratory system it is the larynx that is chiefly affected; in it there is an accumulation of mucus, with hoarseness and hawking, or it is dry, with an irritating, tickling cough, excited by sensations in the throat or epigastrium; it causes pain in the forehead at each cough, and also an escape of urine from the bladder; it comes on in the morning or in the evening on lying down in bed, is relieved by sitting up (puls.), and there are stitches and sore pains in the chest. Sometimes there is lachrymation with the cough, which would be an indication for this remedy in whooping cough.
Circulation-The symptoms referable to the heart that indicate natrum muriaticum are a fluttering over that region, sometimes described as like the beating of a bird’s wing, palpitation on exertion or on lying on the left side (nat, carb., phos), painful stitches in the cardiac region, a cold sensation in this part, and an intermittent pulse (digit., kali carb.). It is a good remedy for palpitation of the heart in anaemic persons, but is also valuable in organic cardiac disease, and in the functionally disturbed heart of exophthalmic goitre.
Neck and Back-In the neck, natrum muriaticum causes rapid emaciation and weakness of the muscles that support the head. In the small of the back there are aching pains, as if the back would break, which are relieved by lying down on something hard (rhus tox.), and are sometimes associated with violent throbbing in the affected part.
In the limbs there are pains as if sprained in the shoulders and hips, and tension in the bends of the limbs, especially in the hams, where the tension seem to be painfully contracted; various drawing and stitching pains; muscular weakness, restlessness of the legs, and a lame feeling in the ankle-joints. Disturbances of sensation occur in the limbs, they feel as if they had gone to sleep, there is tingling, especially in the tips of fingers and toes, the skin of the hands and about the nails is dry and cracked, and the joints crack on movement, are stiff and swell. Natrum muriaticum is useful for weak, paralytic conditions of the limbs occurring from fevers and debilitating diseases, and also for rheumatic and gouty affections.
Sleep is disturbed by vivid dreams, especially of robbers, the patient wakes in fright from a dream, which seems so real that he will not rest till the house has been searched. This liability to dream of thieves and burglars is a prominent feature for this remedy in illness.
Fever-One of the chief complaints for which natrum muriaticum is useful is chronic intermittent fever, especially when it has previously been suppressed by quinine. The natrum muriaticum intermittent commences with a chill occurring usually about 10 to 11 a.m., and begins in the feet or the small of the back, with cold, blue extremities, great thirst, nausea or vomiting, and a bursting headache. With the heat the headache increase, and thirst is still violent. Profuse perspiration follows and relieves all the symptoms, but leaves the patient prostrated. During apyrexia there are stitches about the liver region, emaciation, a sallow complexion, loss off appetite, and herpes on the lips.
The skin complaints for which this drug has been employed are and oozing, scabby eruption on the nape and forehead at the margins of the hair, and a similar one in the bends of the elbows and hollows of the knees. One the broad flexure surfaces the eruption is scaly. It is useful for an itching nettle rash coming on from violent exercise. The hair falls out.
Natrum muriaticum antidotes nitrate of silver, quinine, and bee sting. It is antidoted by spir. nit. dulc of no medicine is it more true to say that a prescription should not be made from a single symptom or because it has been found useful in a named disease, but if several of the characteristics of the drug are present in a case there is no medicine that can be given with greater confidence. It acts best in potencies from thirty upwards.
(1) Craving for salt and salt food; and to be alone.
(2) Ailments begin or are worse at 10 a.m., or in the evening.
(3) Relief of complaints from perspiration.
(4) Depression of spirits and weeping aggravated by consolation.
(5) Dreams of robbers; dreams seem real on waking.
(6) Better when the stomach is empty.
(7) Exhausted in the heat of the sun and in summer.
(8) Cachexia, with skin sallow-looking, greasy and dirty.
(9) Cracks or fissures in the middle of the upper or lower lip.
(10) Cold sensation over cardiac region, fluttering, palpitation.
(11) Sensation of a hair on the tongue (sil)
(12) Eruption at the flexures of the joints and at the margins of the hair.
(13) Periodical throbbing headaches (before, during or after menstruation). Headaches; on waking, from sunrise to sunset.
(14) Secretions, watery and white; fluent coryza.
(15) Late learning to walk and talk.
(16) Dryness of mucous membranes, with splinter-like pains and tendency to erosion.
(17) Chronic catarrhs of the head and throat.
(18) Herpes round the mouth and on the lips.
(19) Anaemia from loss of vital fluids.
(20) Emaciation, especially about the neck.
(21 Diseases resulting from malnutrition; infantile marasmus.
(22) Ailments from grief and distressing emotions.
(23) Intermittents and fevers that have thirst during the chill and bursting headache; intermittents after treatment with quinine; also non-malarial periodicity.
(24) Exophthalmic goitre.
(25) Ailments caused by excessive taking of salt.
Though a chilly subject, from heat of the sun, warm, stuffy rooms, from sunrise to sunset, exertion after food, 10 to 11 a.m. or in the evening, at the seaside and from sea air, at the menstrual period (headaches), and from draughts.
From open air an washing in cold water lying down on something hard (backache) (sepia), while fasting, from perspiration.