HYDRASTIS is one of the drugs required for the most serious types of abdominal trouble, usually a very acute gastritis, a gastric ulcer or a gastric carcinoma. The cases are always very serious, and the patients feel extremely ill. They are despondent rather than anxious about themselves, and very often feel so uncomfortable that they would be thankful to die. They are completely worn out and exhausted.
As a rule, they are pale and have rather a greasy appearance. Many of the Hydrastis patients I have seen have had very marked back heads on the skin-a condition that one tends to associate with that kind of greasy complexion.
These patients complain of a horribly flat taste-nothing tastes good at all-and they very often complain of the tongue feeling as if it had been burned. The whole throat feels raw and sore, and they have the same rawness and soreness in the stomach.
As a rule, you are told that the patient vomits practically everything taken, except possibly a little milk and water. They complain of an acute burning pain and, associated with it, a feeling of emptiness. With this emptiness there is complete loathing of food, and the sinking sensation seems to be worse if they take any food; it does not relieve them at all.
With this burning pain in the stomach, the patients very often have violent pulsation in the epigastrium, accompanied by acute palpitation.
All their distress is aggravated by taking bread, or any vegetables.
Very often in these cases there is an early development of jaundice, with a rather hard, somewhat tender liver. Owing to this torpid, heavy liver, there is often a dragging sensation and a good deal of burning pain in the hepatic region.
These patients have frequent attacks of colic-generalised colicky pains-in the abdomen, and they usually suffer from extreme constipation; it is almost impossible to get their bowels to act at all. Occasionally, however, one meets Hydrastis patients who have bouts of diarrhoea, in which they pass very bileless, almost colourless stools.
It is very similar to the picture described under Arsenicum, but without the Arsenicum distress, thirst, fear of death. In Hydrastis you have the despondent, dead-beat patient, instead of the anxious, thirsty Arsenicum patient.