(From The Homoeopathic Recorder, July, 1890).
THIS drug, Sanguinaria canadensis, the blood root, is closely allied to its botanical relatives, Opium and Chelidonium. It is indeed, a lesser opium, depressing the cerebral functions, causing stupor, irresistible desire to sleep, frightful dreams, while, like Chelidonium, it produces constant pain in the right hypochondrium and, later, a bright yellow, bilious stool, with, however, more nausea and vomiting than either of its relatives cause.
Its physiological action, in general, and from large doses, is upon the membranes of the stomach and air passages where it produces irritation and inflammation. This irritant action evidently extends to the pneumogastric and causes derangement of the liver and digestive tract.
But the study of this abnormal physiology, while of some use to the student in grouping medicines for study, is of little or no use in aiding his knowledge of their symptomatology. The moment one begins to catalogue the characteristic symptoms of a drug, its physiological action is forgotten.
For instance, with Sanguinaria, the following picture of the migraine, which is so often cures, is not made any more clear or more easily remembered by the foregoing statement as to its physiological action: the day of the sick headache, “The Typical American Sick Headache”, may begin with irritability, “She could break things in pieces without cause”; or there is anxiety followed by bitter vomiting. There is often terrible vertigo on rising or turning the head quickly, with a rush of blood up into the head, whizzing in the ears and flushed face.
The actual pain may begin without these preliminaries, as an aching on awaking in the morning; beginning in the occiput and spreading rapidly upwards, settles over the right eye; it increases with the day, being worse about non and declining in the afternoon. Such periodical neuralgias are apt to be worse under Sanguinaria every seventh day (as under Sabad, Silica and Sulphur) and are accompanied by vomiting of bile, dread of light, motion or noise, and are relieved by sleep and a profuse flow of urine.
The location of the pains may vary somewhat, occasionally the vertex, temples or the forehead (always right side) being affected, but the constant and characteristic condition is the aggravation, increasing and ending with the daylight. Enlarged veins about the head and soreness of the scalp generally accompany the Sanguinaria conditions. The pains are like electric shocks, boring, tearing, or, more commonly, bursting.
Spigelia is worthy of comparison here as causing a similar headache, beginning at one point and radiating in different directions; generally worse upon the left side, and, like Sanguinaria, increasing and decreasing with the daylight. The pains of Spigelia are tearing, jerking and severe as in Sanguinaria and more apt to come on in stormy weather. Iris versicolor and Melilotus also cure similar severe nervous headaches.
Sanguinaria has a record in the cure of nasal polypus when accompanied with pain about the root of nose and frequent attacks of acrid fluent coryza. It may then be used locally in a dry powder, dusted upon the parts and with the internal administration of potencies.
In colds or during influenza, when there is much soreness in the roof of the mouth, extending to the pharynx, right side of throat and even down to the lungs, as if parts had been scalded or burnt feeling, there is rheumatic soreness of the muscles of the palate, much dryness down the air passages, loss of taste and smell, Sanguinaria is doubly well indicated.
With, or without, these catarrhal symptoms, the cough which I have seen Sanguinaria cure is a constant dry hacking, from tickling behind the sternum, awakening from sleep.