IN the scheme of things remedies seem to be placed where and when they are wanted. Dulcamara climbs the hedges in the time of hot days and cold nights. Arnica grows in the Andes, and mountainous regions, where it eases and helps to remedy the effects of great fatigue, and falls, and bruises, -Fall-kraut, “Fall herb”, as the Germans call it. The snake remedies come in especially for snake bites, and for the violent and rapid diseases of tropical climates. And not for nothing does Colchicum autumnale flower in the autumn, for it is a grand remedy for the diarrhoea and dysentery of autumn, as well as for the acute rheumatism of that season.
HERING (Guiding Symptoms) tells us that it was proved by Hahnemann and many others, but his proving is not to be found either in Materia Medica Pura, or in the Chronic Diseases. It would doubtless be found in Stapf Archiv.: but it has probably never been done into English, since ALLEN (Encyclopedia) quotes none of its symptoms from Hahnemann.
Old school has greatly used-and abused-this drug: and this is what HALE WHITE (Materia Medica), teaches students and the medical profession in regard to Colchicum. He heads his small chapter: `The sole value of this drug is that it is a specific for gout.”
He speaks of its action (which we know to be its curative action given in small doses, and when symptoms in patient and drug agree). Loss of appetite: purging: nausea: colic. Great abdominal pain. Vomiting. Profuse diarrhoea with passage of blood. Great prostration, the skin cold and bedewed with sweat. Respiration slow. Death due to collapse. (These, as we shall see, are exactly its homoeopathic uses.)
In regard to its therapeutics, he says, “Colchicum is hardly ever used except for gout. It is often very useful for dyspepsia, eczema, headache, neuritis, conjunctivitis, bronchitis and other conditions occurring in those suffering from gout, and probably related to it.
“It is a true specific; how it acts is not known.”
But one seldom sees the real old-fashioned gout of our grandfathers. One remembers meeting it once, in a woman who begged for help one Sunday, when she could not get her regular doctor. She showed a swollen, red, shiny foot; intensity greater about the big toe; with much pain and tenderness. For a moment one thought of some septic condition, but was enlightened and relieved when she said that she “got these attacks of gout.” The remedy that put her right (by the next day, as one learned) was not Colchicum at all, but Burnett’s beloved Urtica urens.- tincture of stinging nettles. It was because of his successful use of this simple herb in gout, that he won the name, so one is told, of “Dr. Urtica”, in the London clubs of his day. He used to give some five drops of the strong tinctures several times a day, in HOT WATER.
One gleans at once, by glancing down the Black letter symptoms of the provings that the great spheres of Colchicum, besides joints (which it inflames and stiffens; wandering from joint to joint, often), are stomach and intestines.
It has the most intense nausea, excited by the sight, or smell, or even thought of food (Arsenicum, Sepia, Cocc.). This characteristic symptom has led to its successful use, as in Dr. Nash’s classical case, of the old lady collapsed and dying of diarrhoea, with sixty case, of the old lady collapsed and dying of diarrhoea, with sixty-five stools in the twenty-fours hours passed into the bed; so weak that she could not lift her head from the pillow (also a Colchicum symptoms); and so nauseated by the smell of food that all doors had to be kept shut between her and the kitchen. A dose of Colch, 200 (she never needed a second) stopped the drain, incidentally, taught Nash the value of potentized drugs.
Diarrhoea, then, and dysentery, especially of the Autumn, and colitis, especially membranous colitis, in which it is often useful.
Colchicum is a remedy of metastases, as when gout leaves the joints and attacks heart or stomach: of such cases we hear less in these days; but in rheumatism or heart or kidney troubles of the children of gouty parents, or grand parents, it should be useful- symptoms agreeing.
In common with Dulcamara, another autumnal remedy, it is useful in ailments from cold damp weather and from suppressed perspiration.
In common with Bryonia it dare not move: and its temper is irritable in the extreme.
In pleurodynia it compares with Arnica: as also in its bruised sensations.
Let NASH speak:
This remedy has one of the most positive and reliable characteristic symptoms in the whole materia medica, and one which cannot be accounted for from any pathological standpoint that I know of-“The smell of food cooking nauseates to faintness.” I mention this here because there is a seeming desire on the part of some to base all their prescriptions on pathological indications. I have no objection to their doing so if they can, and succeed in curing their patients. But I claim full recognition for the value of those subjective, sensational symptoms and the modalities which cannot be accounted for. Indeed, I feel quite sure that the well -verified subjective symptoms are oftener to be relied on in curing our patients than all the pathological conditions we know.” And he gives the case, alluded to, of his old lady.
He points out that Colchicum has two opposite symptoms, viz. burning and icy coldness in stomach.
He and Kent both point out the value of Colchicum for great meteoric distension of abdomen. “In the 200th potency it is a good remedy for the bloating of cows that have eaten too much green clover.”
In regard to its use for rheumatism, articular, migrating, and gouty, Nash has often found it less successful than our other rheumatic remedies.*Other doctors esteem it greatly in acute rheumatism; with a red blush over affected joint; with tendency to wander from joint to joint: with hyperaesthesia and pains worse form cold and damp. BUT, in any of these troubles, or others, “should I find its prime characteristics present” (nausea from smell of food and cooking) “I should certainly give it and confidently expect good results.”
FARRINGTON, on the contrary (Clinical Materia Medica), says: “I am persuaded that Colchicum has not the place in practice it deserves. True it comes to us from the allopathic school as a remedy highly recommended for gout. We ought not, however, from the exorbitant use of the drug by that school, go to the opposite extreme, and neglect it as a remedy altogether.”
He speaks of its use in debility, particularly debility following loss of sleep can hardly drag one leg after the other– appetite gone, bad taste in mouth, nausea:–the debility starts from or involves digestion as a result of loss of sleep. In typhoid: pupils wide, almost insensitive: cold sweat forehead: when patient attempts to raise head, it falls back again, the mouth wide open. Face cadaveric: features sharp and pointed, nose looks squeezed, tongue heavy and stiff, protruded with difficulty (Lachesis), may be bluish especially at base. Almost complete loss of speech and breath cold. Restlessness and cramp in legs. But it has not the fearfulness and dread of death of some other typhoid drugs.
Allied to Carbo veg. in coldness of breath, tympany and great prostration.
Tympanites: stools watery and frequent, and involuntary:– contain “shreds”;– watery, bloody. In dysentery, if there is tympany, Colchicum is far preferable to Cantharis or Mercurius.
Then Colchicum in joints and gout-extremely sensitive to slightest motion. The patient exceedingly irritable and oversensitive to every little external impression-light-noise-strong odours:-and pain seems unbearable (Chamomilla)
Then metastasis of gout or rheumatism to chest. In valvular heart disease or pericarditis following rheumatism, it is indicated by violent cutting and stinging pains in chest, especially about heart, with great oppression and dyspnoea. Chest feels tightly bandaged.
GUERNSEY (“Keynotes”) says this remedy is to be thought of when we see a patient suffering from the effects of night watching (Cocc. is classical here.-ED.) from the effects of hard study: Arthritic pains in joints, especially when knocking the joints makes the patient scream with pain, or when stubbing the toes hurts exceedingly. Affects largely the periosteum and synovial membranes of joints: small joints. Redness, heat and swelling of parts affected.
After evacuation, relief; but sometimes a terrific spasmodic pain of the sphincter ani comes on after stool.
KENT-we will briefly epitomize. He says, it is singular that traditional medicine used Colchicum so much for gout: in all old books it was recommended for this malady. The provings corroborate the fact that Colchicum fits into many conditions of gout but traditional medicine does not tell us what kind of gout to give it in, or what kind of rheumatism. It was merely a medicine of experience. “If it is a gout, try Colchicum.” What to do with the patient when the remedy failed never came up. It was, “Give the prescription and keep at it,’ and drugs were administered till the patient, growing steadily worse, passed from one doctor’s hand into another.