Tree Of Heaven
IN our old garden at Wyvenhoe, years ago, there were two magnificent Ailanthus trees, whose memory has helped to rivet attention to this little-known, but invaluable remedy.
Its dramatic history, as a medicine, is only recorded, so far as we have been able to discover by Dr. Hughes, but since this serves to impress on the mind what Ailanthus is good for, and its peculiarities of malevolence, i.e. its magnificent curative power in some desperate cases of acute disease, it is worth repeating.
Dr. Hughes tells us that one of our most accomplished physicians “supplies the first chapter”. His own child was seized with all the symptoms of early malignant scarlet fever; vomiting, severe headache, intolerance of light, dizziness, hot red face, inability to sit up, rapid small pulse; drowsiness, yet great restlessness; much anxiety. Two hours later the drowsiness had become insensibility, with constant, muttering delirium, and the child did not recognize the members of her family. She was now covered, in patches, with an eruption of miliary rash, with efflorescence between its points, all of a dark, almost livid colour; eruption more profuse on forehead and face than elsewhere. The father gave his child up for lost. But in few hours a change came about which gave a new aspect to the case. Enquiry ascertained that she had largely sucked the juice of the stalks of the Ailanthus. The doctor ends his tale by suggesting that we have here a possible aid in the first stage, with symptoms of cerebral intoxication.
The was written in 1864: but, published in a journal little known, seemed to have made no impression. Later, our Dr. Pope, realizing the significance and value of these facts, called attention to them, and his remarks soon bore fruit:-for Dr. Chalmers, in 1868, found himself in the midst of an epidemic of malignant scarlatina. New, at that time, to the use of homoeopathic remedies, he was disappointed at their action here. His attention was called to Ailanthus, and he procured some, and at once found he had the agent he needed. The fever was characterized by a dark coloured and partial eruption, and the constant effects of the medicine were shown in the change to a rash more bright-hued and general, with marked diminution in the frequency of the pulse, with more regularity and firmness, and with restoration to consciousness. Other doctors, later, who had had large experience with the drug in scarlatina, a corroborated the favorable reports of its use. But an australian doctor said that he found in necessary of discontinue it when the eruption began to fade, or it might cause a pemphigoid rash during and after desquamation. It has also been suggested in cases of cerebral and spinal congestion. Its effect on head and mental faculties being very like the dull heavy head with confusion and incapacity for labour, from brain fag or over worry; while the pains in the back, all up the spine, and the contractive feeling in chest and abdomen, with numbness and tingling in upper and lower extremities are the symptoms of spinal congestion.
Ailanthus is also suggested, says Hughes, in bad cases of measles where the rash fails to come out, or recedes suddenly, or is livid; in diphtheritic and other low forms of sore throat; and in epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis.
We have quoted at some length, though endeavouring to condense. because of the importance of the drug, and the little that one can learn in regard to its fascinating history elsewhere.
Allen’s Encyclopedia gives a few provings, besides those of the dramatic symptoms of poisoning case which emphasize its place in acute, malignant, deadly and rapid cases of disease. The lividity of the scanty eruption, that fails to appear as if should, the drowsiness and, soon, muttering delirium, with vomiting, headache, intolerance of light, hot red face, rapid, small pulse; great restlessness and anxiety let us see how the provings bear out what we in a lesser degree learn from the poisoning.
Mentals. Great anxiety. Inability to concentrate: cannot add up a row of figures correctly. Loss of memory; mental alienation. Stupor, delirium, insensibility, after suppressed scarlatina.
Tottering gait; staggering; giddy, with nausea, retching and some vomiting. The figures on the ledger began to dance up and down on the column. Apoplectic fullness of head. Electrical thrill starts from brain and goes to extremities. Tingling left arm and hand with dull headache.
Pupils widely dilated. Photophobia.
Face and forehead dark mahogany, in suppressed scarlatina.
Tongue dry, parched, cracked. Covered with whitish coat, brown in centre; or moist and covered with white fur; tip and edges livid.
Thick, oedematous, and dry choky feeling in throat; may become chronic.
Constant efforts to raise lumps of mucus. Throat tender and sore on swallowing, and on admission of air. Parotid and thyroid glands tender and enlarged. Throat livid and swollen with deep, angry-looking ulcerations. Tonsils studded with ulcerated points.
Nausea similar to that of pregnancy.
Tenderness over liver: tympanites. Burning in stomach and bowels. Feeling of insecurity, as if he would be attacked by diarrhoea any minute. Frequent watery dejections, expelled with great force. Dysentery; frequent painful stool; little faecal matter: much bloody mucus.
Deep exhausting cough, with asthmatic expansion of lungs; excessive soreness and tenderness of lungs.
The eruption is described above: dark, almost livid; more profuse on forehead and face. Intolerable pain in the back of neck, in upper part of back, and right hip-joint.
If odour gives any indication, Ailanthus should prove a good remedy in malignant puerperal fever.
BOGER has some black-type symptoms that emphasize points; Rapid prostration. Advancing malignancy and stupor. Foetor and stupor. Face and throat dark and swelled. Deep ulcers stud the tonsils. Eruption in dark sparse patches. Scarlatina suppressed. Affects especially Blood, Throat, Skin, Mind.
KENT says : This remedy is especially suitable in low, zymotic forms of fever-diphtheria, scarlet fever, blood poisoning; typhoids, especially where characterized by capillary congestions in spots-red, mottled spots. Malignant scarlet fever; where the regular rash does not come out, but red spots appear; bleeding from gums and nose, and dreadful tumefaction of throat. Face is purple, besotted; eyes congested-even bleeding from eyes. Stupefaction: Stupid and bemused. Throat oedematous with purple patches. Blood decomposing rapidly. Blisters may from at finger- tips and other parts of body. Foetid odours from mouth and nose. When a case suddenly assumes this prostration, with rapid heart, foetid, purple or blue patches, blood poisoning is going on. A remittent or a diphtheria may suddenly take on this form.
Cannot concentrate; cannot answer correctly; semi-conscious with great anxiety; finally, complete unconsciousness. In quite number of such case in Brooklyn, many patients were saved by it. It seemed able to change the character of the malignant form of scarlet fever into a mild kind.
It has been observed in addition, that hair falls out; flashes of light play before the eyes on closing lids at night countenance indicates much distress. Face dark as mahogany; purple, puffed, besotted. This remedy corresponds to most malignant types. With these zymotic states there is pain at the back of the neck and head, no matter what the name of the disease
Feeling of a rat running up the leg occurred in one of my provers.
Kent says again: “When you go to the bed of scarlet fever, you should not call to mind the names of the medicines you have heard recommended for scarlet fever. Let the appearance of the patient bring to mind such remedies as appear like this patient, regardless of whether they have been associated with scarlet fever or not.
“You may see what looks like an Aconite rash, but there is such scanty zymosis in the nature of Aconite, that it is no longer thought of. Belladonna is not suitable, for the Belladonna rash is shiny and smooth. Pulsatilla has a measly rash with often a low form of fever, but not so low as the typhoid state. In the prostration, worse after sleep, general stupor and delirium, almost at a glance you see Lachesis; the type of such forms of disease. Or in scarlet fever where the child keeps picking the skin from lips and nose, lies pale and exhausted, no rash to speak of, and urine nearly suppressed-and in a moment you think of Arum triph. Or, purple appearance, horrible foetor, sore throat, and the child cannot get water enough, wants a stream running down its throat all the time, an you may safely trust to Phosphorus. There is always something to tell the story, if you will only listen, study and wait long enough.”
(We make no apology for repetitions. They serve to impress unusual facts and symptoms on the mind, and make prescribing easier.).