There are indications for Arsenicum alb. in a variety of pathological conditions; in an acute gastritis, an acute gastro- enteritis, a gastric ulcer, or a gastric carcinoma. But no matter what the pathological condition is, unless you get the other Arsenicum indications the drug is not going to help. For instance, an acute gastro-enteritis, with vomiting and diarrhoea, as the result of food poisoning, may call for Arsenicum.Not all such cases, however, call for it, and unless the other indications are present, Arsenicum will not do any good. For instance, one essential symptom in these Arsenicum cases is an intense burning pain, whether the lesion be in the stomach or the bowel. These burning pains are relieved by either external heat applied to the abdomen, or by taking mildly warm fluids; and definitely aggravated by cold.
In general make-up the Arsenicum patient is always extremely distressed, very anxious, very worried and very much afraid. Always restless, always thirsty, and craves cold drinks as the mouth is burning hot. Any vomit is again burning hot, and scalds the throat. But if the patient takes a cold drink, it will increase the abdominal pain. The patient himself is always chilly.
There are one or two points which are useful to remember. In an Arsenicum gastritis, the patient will complain of intense burning pain in the stomach, may vomit up a little fluid or may vomit up a quantity of fluid, and the fluid may be anything from mucus to bile or blood, but it is always associated with the same burning character of pain, and the same extreme sensitiveness of the stomach to pressure.
When treating a case of that type, there is one thing to remember : the Arsenicum gastritis is particularly aggravated by milk. So never put that patient on to a milk diet. The best plan with your Arsenicum cases is to put them on to water, nothing else, for forty-eight hours. Although they do not like sweet things, and they rather jib at glucose, they stand it quite well.
There is an odd thing in this connection. In children one occasionally sees an Arsenicum gastritis in which the patient seems to be singularly tolerant of sweetened, condensed milk, although they cannot tolerate ordinary milk. I cannot explain why this is so, but in practice it is the case.
Owing to its periodicity Arsenicum is often helpful in treating recurring bilious attacks.
Arsenicum patients with gastro-intestinal upsets feel so awful, so ill, and they are so afraid, that they get a definite craving for stimulants of all kinds-alcohol, coffee, tea, anything that may stimulate them-and all stimulants aggravate their pains. Mostly they have an aversion to food of any kind, and a particular loathing of anything fatty or greasy.
In Arsenicum cases the stools are very varied-acute watery diarrhoea with just little flecks of mucus in it, acute bile- laden stools, absolutely clay-coloured stools associated with an acute hepatitis, or a tarry stool associated with a gastric ulcer or a gastric carcinoma.