CHELIDONIUM is one of the most satisfactory medicines because its indications are so clear. It is mainly indicated in cases of gastric catarrh, either acute or chronic, gastro-duodenal catarrh or catarrhal conditions of the gall bladder.The textbooks say that Chelidonium patients are very heavy and lethargic, but I have seen quite a number of Chelidonium patients who were neither heavy nor lethargic. They have a certain amount of difficulty in concentration, and a good deal of forgetfulness; they are very often depressed, and are liable to have a good deal of anxiety; but normally I have not found the dull lethargy which is described in the textbooks.
Very often there is much restlessness, and the patients will complain of a strange and very distressing abdominal sensation, which is so acute that it makes them feel they will go crazy. They dislike any mental effort, and they dislike having to talk-I have noticed this very strikingly in quite a number of Chelidonium cases.
The patients as a whole are sensitive to heat, they are warm blooded. This is worth remembering because their local gastric digestive symptoms are aggravated by anything cold and relieved by heat, although the patients themselves are aggravated by heat.
The tongue in Chelidonium cases is sometimes helpful. Many cases have a peculiarly pointed, narrow tongue, very often with a yellowish coat. And one surprising thing is that in spite of the tongue being narrow, it shows the imprint of the teeth at the sides.
Mostly, the patients complain of a very unpleasant, bitter taste-although sometimes it is just a horrible, spoiled taste- associated with the collection of a good deal of tough mucus in the mouth. With the complaint of a bitter taste, they are liable also to have attacks of sudden acute salivation.
The discomfort of which these patients complain is distinctive. They feel as if they had something tight round the upper part of the abdomen, almost like a band or a string. That is a constant sensation. It varies a little and sometimes goes on to a feeling of general abdominal fullness, particularly-again-in the upper part of the abdomen and more marked on the right side.
With the general feeling of distention, is the complaint of acute, shooting pains which stab through from the front and usually go through to the back in the region of the right scapula. These sudden shooting pains are quite frequently accompanied by a colicky sensation and are not infrequently followed by an attack of pretty profuse vomiting, the vomit consisting of anything from glairy mucus to bile-stained material. It is unusual in Chelidonium to get much in the way of bleeding.
If there is much pain in the right half of the abdomen, it is usually aggravated by the patient’s turning over on to the left side : it causes an increase of the feeling of distension and drag in the upper part of the abdomen. In the more acute colicky attacks, the pains are relieved by external warmth, aggravated by any abdominal pressure or by motion, and are made rather better by drawing up the legs and relieving the tension of the abdominal muscles.
Chelidonium patients have a good deal of flatulence, and they get great relief from bringing up wind. The striking characteristic of Chelidonium is the marked relief of pain from taking warm fluids – any warm, bland fluids, but particularly warm milk. Sometimes there is a craving for sour things, stimulants or beer, but any of these aggravate the pain.
They develop a marked aversion to meat, to fish in any form and to coffee. They always have a definite susceptibility to tobacco; smoking will bring on an attack of acute distension in the abdomen and may produce an attack of acute pain. The patients feel hungry, and get a certain amount of relief immediately after eating, particularly if the food is warm.
There are two main types of Chelidonium cases. In one the gall bladder is infected, and the patient is definitely jaundiced, has a bileless stool and a bile-stained urine. The kind of case in which Chelidonium is helpful is the one in which the patient is having irregular rigors, with rises of temperature, acute gall bladder pain and a feeling of general heat and exhaustion. In these cases, the rigor is liable to occur about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
There is a tendency for a second rigor to take place in the early hours of the morning, usually about 4 o’ clock. So far as the more chronic catarrhal condition is concerned-gastric catarrh and gastro-duodenal catarrh-the maximum discomfort is liable to occur in the latter part of the afternoon from about 4 o’clock to 9 o’clock.
Contrasting with that first acute infective case, there is another type of Chelidonium case, in which there does not seem to be the same degree of infectivity, but in which you appear to get more organic disturbance, sometimes running to a definite carcinoma, associated with a much more earthy appearance of the skin, very often with a slightly jaundiced tinge in the eyes, definitely dark stools and urine that is free from bile. That type, when associated with the Chelidonium food modalities, responds very well indeed to Chelidonium.
Apart from the occurrence of bileless stools in Chelidonium, there is not infrequently a history of alternating attacks of constipation and diarrhoea. Quite often digestive attacks of this type are associated with sudden changes of the weather; if the weather suddenly becomes too hot or too cold, the Chelidonium patient is liable to have an upset.
There is one other point which is sometimes a help in a Chelidonium diagnosis. Associated with the gall-bladder or liver upsets, the Chelidonium patient is very liable to develop severe, troublesome neuralgia of the right side of the head and face, particularly spreading down behind the right ear. I have never been able to explain the neuralgia, but I have come across it several times without any local focus.
Chelidonium does not appear to have any definite solvent effect on gallstones themselves. It does diminish the congestion of the common duct and, if the stones are of manageable size, they are passed. I myself have never seen them dissolved under the administration of Chelidonium.