Zinc, an element. (Zn,) Atomic weight, 64.9. Trituration of the metal.
The provings of zinc were made with the metal, the oxide, the acetate, the sulphate and the phosphate; the first two and the last, being insoluble, were made with triturations; the acetate and sulphate, which are soluble, with fluid dilutions. Symptoms arising amongst workers in brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, are included, and also those observed in cases of accidental poisoning and in illnesses produced in persons from drinking water contaminated with zinc.
The soluble salts of zinc form insoluble albuminates with the tissues and thereby have an astringent action. Those in most common use in orthodox general practice are the sulphate and chloride; the former is the more astringent, the latter the more irritant, and has frequently caused corrosive poisoning. The sulphate has a harsh, metallic taste, and when taken in small doses by the mouth causes nausea and inclination to vomit; in large doses it brings on violent vomiting and purging, abdominal pain and collapse. In workers in zinc a condition known as ‘brass-founders’ ague” is induced. This is manifested by pains in different parts of the body and general weakness, the prolonged rigors, associated with nausea and a sensation of contraction of the thorax, followed by a short stage, with acceleration of pulse, headache, coughing and soreness of the chest. The rigors give place to profuse perspiration and sleep, from which the patient awakes in his usual health. These attacks are liable frequently to recur.
Intravenous injections of zinc have shown that it depresses the central nervous system, and to a less extend the heart and voluntary muscles, causes irritation and congestion of the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, and inflames the kidneys.
Zinc is excreted mainly by the walls of the stomach and intestines, to a much smaller extent in the bile and urine.
The finer symptomatology of zinc brought out by the provings will be more conveniently dealt with in the therapeutic section.
In general orthodox practice zinc has been given internally, usually in the form of the sulphate, as an emetic. The sulphate, oxide and carbonate have been used in the treatment of various brain diseases, such as epilepsy, chorea and hysteria. Externally, the soluble zinc preparations (except the chloride) have been employed as astringents, in the form of a lotion, to ulcers, as an eyewash in conjunctivitis, and as an injection in gonorrhoea. The insoluble salts have been used in power or ointment for ulcers and diseases of the skin. The chloride, which is a powerful caustic, has been applied in the form of paste, or in a pencil to destroy malignant growths, chancres and gangrenous sores, and it has been used in very dilute solution as a disinfectant.
Digestion.-In homoeopathic practice, instead of being used as an emetic, zincum is employed to alleviate disorders of the alimentary system, which occur, not so much as a primary disease, but which may come on in the course of illnesses when the nervous system is involved in the case, and is the part mainly affected. The symptoms that most indicate zincum in gastric complaints are nausea, with increased flow of saliva and yet thirst; a sweetish, metallic or bitter taste, drawing and smarting in the roots of the teeth which are painful when eating and feel long and loose; the gums bleed easily; the tongue is dry and coated at the root, a sensation of crawling may be felt in the inner surface of the cheek. The throat is dry, sore and painful between the acts of deglutition, but during swallowing a cramp like pain may be felt externally in the muscles of the neck; pain is felt in the posterior part of the hart palate and velum palati while yawning; the patient has an aversion from meat, fish, sweets, wine, brandy and warm food; there may be anorexia, but irresistible hunger is more characteristic, with hurried eating and drinking; sweet things and wine upset the stomach and sour eructations occur after milk. Nausea is referred to the stomach, with retching and vomiting of bloody mucus, and there are burning, a sense of pressure and stitching pains in the epigastric and stomach regions; a sensation as of a worm creeping up from the pit of the stomach into the throat has been described; cramping pains occur in the hypochondria, associated with dyspnoea, and oppression of the chest comes on after eating, which brings on or aggravates all the stomach symptoms; there is great fulness and distension of the abdomen from flatulent colic, which is made worse by wine to wards evening or during the night, and causes loud rumbling and the passing of hot, moist, foetid flatus without relief; stitching and griping pains occur in the abdomen, especially after a meal. Itching and crawling, as of a worm, is felt in the anus, and there is burning after stool; there may be diarrhoea with stupor as in typhus, but the more usual condition is obstinate constipation, with which the stools are small, hard, dry and crumbling, and, on account of loss of power in the rectum, are passed with the exertion of much pressure. Zincum has been found useful in atonic dyspepsia, with flatulence and an “an-gone” sensation at 11 a.m. (sulph., sepia), in lead colic, in enteralgia of drunkards, in flatulent colic coming on in the evening, in cholera infantum, associated with a hydrocephaloid condition, in chronic dysentery and in worms. These symptoms referable to the alimentary tract are not due solely to the action of zinc on its mucous membrane, but more to irritation, with subsequent depression of the nervous supply to its involuntary muscle.
Nervous System.-Zinc is a drug that acts almost solely on the nervous system, irritating and then depressing the brain and spinal cord. It does not do this by promoting active hyperaemia of the nervous tissues, like belladonna, but they suffer a loss of their vitality, going on to paralysis. Reflex action is increased from weakness of control by the higher centres, and to this is probably mainly due the convulsions that occasionally occur in children during dentition and from worms, and also the jerking and disorderly movements which are so common, and make zincum a suitable remedy for chorea, hysterical twitchings, globus hystericus, reflex symptoms arising from floating kidney, and hysterical retention of urine. The epileptic fits for which zinc is useful are without aura, a circumstance which suggests that they are probably more of reflex than cortical origin.
Mind.-The depression of the brain produced by zinc renders it of great value in cases of brain fag, whether due to over- study, over-taking of the brain in business, night watching or fatigue. With this condition there is a weak memory, over- sensitiveness, especially to noise, and to people talking; the patient is low-spirited, cross, easily offended, mental operations are difficult to him, “he repeats all questions before answering them,” the mind becomes stuporous, especially in the afternoon and evening; in extreme cases unconsciousness supervenes. It is a medicine for threatened “paralysis of the brain,” in fevers, such as scarlet fever or typhus. It is especially indicated when these states of cerebral depression come on when there is insufficient vitality to bring out eruptions or to continue normal discharges, and when exanthematous diseases do not develop. It is not a question of their being suppressed by some outside influence, as is the case with cuprum, their failure to appear is due to lack of power within to throw them out. The patient is too weak to develop the exanthemata, the menstrual function fails, expectoration stops, urine is suppressed, foot-sweat dries up, the lochia cease, and milk does not appear after parturition. Zincum will re-establish these functions with relief to all the symptoms.
It is useful in the brain affections of children; indications are crossness in the evening, grinding of teeth, rolling of the head, sudden screaming as if from pain when unconscious (apis); these symptoms may accompany dentition, worms, or exanthematous fevers.
Mental diseases for which zincum may be useful are Huntingdon’s chorea, stupor, energia, general paralysis of the insane (stage of fits, of paralysis), Korsakow’s disease, encephalitis lethargica, exhaustion psychosis, confessional states and alcoholic confusion.
Head.-Cerebral depression may be accompanied with many head symptoms, such as vertigo, with a tendency to fall to the left when walking, pressure on the vertex worse after dinner, dizziness, with nausea and vomiting of bile, unilateral headaches, with tearing and stinging pains, worse from wine, in a warm room and after eating; “pressure in the root of the nose, as if it would be pushed into the head” (kali bich.), is a characteristic pain. There is a sensation in the scalp as if insects are crawling from the occiput to the forehead. A neuralgia for which zincum phosphoricum is the remedy, is a severe pain in the forehead, associated, with frequent stabs going through the brain from before backwards to the occiput. It is a medicine for migraine.
Eyes.-With brain affections the eyes are very sensitive to light, and during a severe headache there may be blindness, which passes away when the headache goes. The upper lips are heavy. Conjunctivitis occurs, with pains worse at night, the inner canthi are particularly affected, there is frequent lachrymation, with burning in the eyes and lids, and a feeling of dryness and pressure in them. Zincum cures pterygium, conjunctivitis with granular lids and ectropion and ectropion with thickened eyelids. It is useful for strabismus occurring after brain troubles.
Ears.-In the ears zincum causes cracking noises and stitching pains and is useful for earache in children.
Face.-The eyelids will look bluish, and the face pale and waxy in brain affections, or redness may alternate with pallor.
Urine.-The bladder exhibits the nervous weakness produced by zincum, in that urination may be involuntary during walking, coughing or sneezing, or there may be inability to pass water though the bladder feels full the patient can pass it only while sitting leaning backwards.
Sexual.-The male sexual organs present symptoms showing mingled irritability and weakness, they are easily excited, there are long-lasting violent erections, emission during an embrace is too rapid, or difficult or almost impossible; there is copious discharge of prostatic fluid, spermatorrhoea and nocturnal emissions without dreams occur, one or other testicle is retracted and the testicles feel as if bruised. There is temporary relief after an emission, especially of the backache. Zincum is of benefit in many cases of sexual weakness with erethism and in testicular neuralgia.
In women the menses are too early and profuse, and lumps of coagulated blood pass away; the flow is most profuse at night. Leucorrhoea of bloody mucus often occurs for three days before or after the menses, or both before and after. Pruritus vulvae, associated with varicosis of the labia, is present and induces masturbation; there is present and induces masturbation; there is irresistible sexual desire at night. A characteristic of zinc in the female sexual sphere is a boring pain in the left ovarian region, which is entirely relieved during the menstrual flow (lach.); the menstrual pains of actaea are worse during the flow. Backache accompanies the uterine disturbances. A symptom indicative of zincum in affections of the sexual organs as well as in children in delirium, is that the patient is continually pressing against the pubes, or applying the hands to the genitals. Zincum is a remedy for erotomania and masturbation in women of the nervously depressed and restless type. It is useful for puerperal convulsions coming on coincidently with the disappearance of a long-standing eruption, or if the lochia suddenly cease; also for sore nipples and sore and swollen breasts occurring when the menses do not appear.
Respiration.-There is a form of asthma for which zincum is the remedy; it comes on every evening after eating, with flatulence, and is increased when expectoration stops, and decreases when it recommences. There is a nightly cough with yellow, blood-stained or sweetish-tasting sputum (stannum), worse after eating sweets, drinking wine, and during the menses. Pains in the chest are common and are mostly stitches, or as if the chest is cut to pieces or constricted. Often there is a sensation of emptiness behind the sternum.
Circulation.-In the cardiac region there is pain as if the heart is compressed. The pulse is irregular, small, and frequent, or it is scarcely perceptible. The heart has an irregular, spasmodic action-sometimes one violent thump is felt. Pulsation is present in the blood-vessels throughout the body.
Back and Limbs.-The cardiac pains are mainly due to and are associated with spinal irritation, which with the alternate condition of spinal depression gives rise to a variety of pains and sensations in the back and limbs. The neck muscles feel too weak to support the head, especially when the head is bent forwards as in reading and writing; there are burning pains between the scapulae and burning in spots all down the spine, the last dorsal vertebra is a frequent site of pain; pain in the small of the back is marked, and is felt on turning over in bed at night, and when sitting down and rising from a seat, and is better from continuous walking (rhus tox.). There is great weakness of the limbs, especially in the bends of the knees, and they are apt suddenly to give way. Trembling of the limbs, notably of the hands and feet, and numbness and blueness of the hands are common. The skin of the hands is dry and cracked, chilblains itch and swell, varices occur in the legs, and foetid perspiration collects on the feet and about the toes. There is a feeling in the toes as if they are frost-bitten, the feet are cold. Very characteristic of zincum is fidgetiness of the feet, the patient cannot keep them still but must be continually moving them, especially in the evening and at night in bed. An erysipelatous inflammation over the tendo Achillis and ulcerative, boring pains in the heels have been observed, worse while walking and relieved by sitting. The pains above the joints, which are usually sharp and lancinating, are always in a direction transverse to the limb. Twitching and jerking occur in the muscles, the whole body jerks at night in sleep. Pains seem to have their seat between the skin and the flesh. Zincum has been used in the beginning of locomotor ataxia for the lightning pains.
Skin.-Formication of the skin occurs in any part of the body. The skin is pale, shrivelled and has a bluish tinge.
The trophic nerves share in the general depression of the nervous system, and the body and its organs waste; there is great emaciation. In advanced cases there is a tendency to drowsiness and stupor, from which the patient can be roused, but into which he immediately relapses. Sleep is restless and interrupted by dreams and by jerkings in the body and limbs, and the patient wakes in fear. Zincum is useful in intercostal neuralgia and in neuralgia following herpes zoster. One of the provers developed spasmodic twitchings of the muscles of the face concerned with laughing, and fits of uncontrollable laughter in hysterical subjects have been cured with this remedy. The state of nerves, the nausea and vomiting, and its aggravation from wine have indicated zincum in chronic alcoholism, for which it has been successfully used.
(1) Depression or irritability of brain and spinal cord.
(2) Non-appearance of eruptions and discharges that should normally occur.
(3) Heaviness, stupor and unconsciousness
(5) General weakness, fainting attacks.
(6) Intolerance of wine.
(7) Tremblings, jerkings, formication.
(8) Bluish tint of skin.
(9) Vomiting in connection with brain disorders.
(11) Increased reflexes.
(12) Fidgety feet.
(13) Craving hunger and “goneness” at 11 a.m.
(14) Burning pains in spots along the spine.
(15) Transverse direction of pains above joints.
(16) Brain fag, nervous exhaustion.
(17) Hysterical, nervous and sexual complaints.
From touch, jarring, riding, rest sitting, lying, motion, walking, exertion, eating and drinking, evening and night, sugar, wine, milk, 11 a.m. to 12 noon (sinking in stomach), over-heating (rheumatism), chill when heated, warm room (relieves conjunctivitis), open air (excessive headaches and drowsiness). Covering (during sweat).
From emissions, onset of discharges or appearance of eruptions, open air (headache and drowsiness), while eating, vomiting, perspiration, menses backache and pain in left ovarian region), walking (backache).