Hom. Recorder, Nov., 1932.
M. CHARCOT was consulted some weeks before his death by a Paris merchant regarding a peculiar condition of mind and nerves that afflicted him and his family and which also seemed to affect every new servant of the family. The family were all extremely irritable, so much so that hardly a meal passed without some explosion and a scene. The least provocation was the signal for an out break; the father would storm, the mother would scold and the children would cry.
A general hysteria seemed to control the whole family. The father was afflicted with tremors and involuntary gesticulations and was extremely irritable; the mother was subject to sudden attacks of migraine and was terribly sensitive-a sudden noise, a too bright light, or any sudden impression would at times bring on attacks of general pain. The daughters were hypochondriacal and hysterical.
The boys were emaciated and nervous, and the youngest child, a little girl of eight years was suffering from incoherent muscular movements and St. Vitus Dance. In the middle ages the family could have been termed bewitched and benedictions and exorcisms resorted to for their relief, and they might have ended their lives on the wheel, at the stake, or by drowning in a vat.
An inquiry into the condition of the home developed the fact that the father was a coffee manufacturer and merchant, being extensively engaged in the roasting and packing of coffee extracts and essences. The family lived in apartments above the factory and sores, and the furniture, clothing and rooms were all well impregnated with a strong coffee odour.
A removal to the pure air of the seashore and a change of habitation on return restored the family. Charcot diagnosed the trouble as chronic caffeinism.
The active principle of coffee is called caffeine and is similar to that found in tea, viz.
Coffea is a general stimulant of cerebral activity. It increases the kidney or urinary secretion, it increases the function of the skin and uterus. The increase of brain power after coffee is undoubted. Coffee prepares for work, both mental and physical. It affects especially the reasoning power. Unusual activity of mind and body is a condition produced by coffee, and hence is a guiding condition of its homoeopathic use.
It produces over-sensitiveness, nervous erethism; all the senses are more acute, sight, hearing, smell and taste are finer; the sensorium is more vivid, hence the great susceptibility to pain. Pains are felt intensely, seem almost insupportable, driving to despair. Talcott says, “when absolute and unutterable exaltation of sensitiveness is reached, then Coffea is the remedy.” Great sensitiveness with general excitability, ecstasy, full of ideas. Reads fine print easily, music sounds loud and shrill.
It is useful in onesided headache, as if a nail were driven into the bone, worse in open air, and in toothache relieved only by taking ice-cold water in the mouth.
The genitals are very sensitive, cannot be touched, itch voluptuously on account of the painful sensitiveness.
Coffea is a most useful remedy in labour. The pains are insupportable, and the patient feels them most intensely. Protracted cases where there is great nervous irritation. Hahnemann tells of a patient who suffered from after-pains and loss of blood, and a craving for coffee, which stopped both, though in health she could not support coffee.
Itching of anus. Spasmodic stricture of rectum, spasm of sphincter ani. Pain constitutes a very prominent and characteristic indication for Coffea, being always most intense.
Nervous palpitation with irregular intermitting pulse. Coffea acts on the nerves of the heart, Cactus acts on its muscles. Trembling of hands. Palpitation especially after surprise, pleasant news, joy, etc. It will often relieve the last moments of the dying, particularly those suffering from abdominal complaints and consumption.
Coffea is very useful in sleeplessness, because the patient is full of ideas, great mental activity, especially after pleasant surprises, sleeplessness owing to excessive agitation of body and mind and here it must be given high. Sleeplessness from the bad effects of to good news!.