THE main uses one finds for Phytolacca are in very severe gastric ulcers, gastric carcinomas and, occasionally, rectal carcinomas.
It is a little difficult to give a clear picture of Phytolacca patients, but in most cases they are very depressed, gloomy and rather indifferent. In addition to their local symptom they always feel very tired and often complain of generalised bruised pains, a sort of aching pain all over. They are also very liable to severe bone pains which are particularly troublesome in bed at night.
With rectal carcinomas, they are particularly liable to get a most troublesome backache, a throbbing type of pain in the lumbar or sacral region. This also tends to be much worse at night and is particularly bad in a warm bed.
The patients are sensitive to cold; they feel chilly, are very sensitive to damp and to cold rooms. And yet, in most of their complaints they have an aggravation from getting overheated in bed at night.
The appearance of the tongue is a little suggestive. As a rule it has a very coated base-a yellowish, dry base-and with a very red tip. Usually the patients have been liable to attacks of sore throat, they have rather large tonsils, and there is often a bluish appearance of the back of the throat and of the pillars of the fauces. They complain of a raw, rough sensation in the throat, and of severe stiffness in the neck as if the muscles at the sides of the neck were rigid.
In their gastric disturbances, the main complaint is of pain in the pyloric region. After food they get a feeling as if the whole stomach were contracting-they express it as feeling as if the stomach were being pinched together-and they tell you that soon after a meal they feel a sinking, hungry sensation and then begin to get the pyloric pain, become sick and vomit. The vomit may be variable but-certainly with carcinoma-it usually consists of a quantity of blood-stained slimy mucus.
In carcinoma cases, there is usually a good deal of pain in the region of the liver. The liver is sensitive to pressure, and the pain is very much worse when the patient is turned over on to the right side.
As a rule, the gastric discomfort is relieved by hot drinks.
In rectal carcinoma, there are one or two suggestive symptoms. The patients complain of a good deal of generalised abdominal discomfort, a feeling of rumbling in the abdomen and an almost constant urging to stool. With this urging, they pass only a little blood-stained mucus, or else they pass little shreddy discharge which look almost like the lining of the mucous membrane and are stained with blood. With this rectal condition, they get very acute neuralgic pain in the rectum and anus. This pain tends to spread forwards into the perineum.
These are the main points about Phytolacca. If the patients have always been liable to get enlarged inflamed glands- particularly of the glands of the neck- or they have been liable to attacks of recurring mastitis, or acute sensitiveness and swelling of the mammae at the menstrual periods-these are extra indications for Phytolacca in the more pyloric ulcers.
The range of Phytolacca is rather limited, but it does fill a definite gap where one is dealing with these malignant conditions which are very difficult to fit with a drug.